Salvatore Pane

Tag: Dan Chaon

2013 AWP GUIDE

I’ve been blogging about AWP for the last four years. You can check the previous guides here (2012, 2011, 2010). So I’m not going to ramble on too much with advice. You know how I feel about AWP. For me, it works best when I plan less. There’s too much to do, and every year it seems like I have more obligations and more friends and writers to meet. I’m never able to do even a fourth of what I’d like to, and often, my favorite moments of the conference have nothing to do with writing. Some of my favorite moments from last year were catching up with old classmates over a tray of deep dish pizza, or the time Kevin Tassini and I dragged Katie Coyle all over Chicago to look for video games. Just go and have fun. Be productive, but don’t overstress.

If you want to see me at AWP, there’s a few options. I’m doing a book signing at the Braddock Avenue Books table from 10:30 to 11:45 on Thursday. Come on down. Buy my book. Hug me? I’ll probably do a few more, and I’ll keep you posted here or via Twitter. I’m also participating in a panel on Thursday from 9-10:15am in Room 108 of the Plaza Level:

R109. Landing the Tenure-Track Job without a Book: What to Expect in the Job Market. (Kevin McKelvey, Salvatore Pane, Keya Mitra, Robert Long Foreman) In a competitive academic job market, how do you make yourself stand out without a book? Writers will discuss their diverse paths to tenure-track jobs and how to develop pedagogy for newer fields such as graphic novels and established fields like professional writing, screenwriting, composition, editing, and publishing. Panelists will discuss publications and teaching loads, how a visiting or contract position can turn into a permanent job, and whether or not you need a PhD.

If you want to see me read, come to this:

tpa

 

So let’s party. Let’s hang out. Let’s be cool. Below is my list of all the panels I’m interested in attending. Remember, these aren’t the “best” panels–I don’t even know what that would mean exactly. These are just the ones I’m going to try and make. Just relax and be cool. I’ll have an off-site guide posted soon.

THURSDAY

12:00-1:15

Room 200, Level 2

R167. Only Half as Crazy as We Seem: Exploring Unconventional Strategies for Indie Lit Startups. (Steve Westbrook, Matty Byloos, Carrie Seitzinger, J.A. Tyler, Skyler Schulze) At present, the notion of developing an independent literary startup tends to be perceived as a naïve dream or a bad business idea. Defying conventional wisdom, contributors to this panel discuss their recent experience of founding successful new journals, presses, and a reading series. As they examine how their efforts toward sustainability intersect or contradict industry lore, they offer strategies for developing alternative funding structures, distribution models, and marketing techniques.

Room 206, Level 2

R172. Literary Writers Writing Popular Fiction: What’s Up With That? (Ed Falco, Julianna Baggott, Lise Haines, Benjamin Percy) What exactly are we saying when we refer to a novel as literary or serious fiction, as opposed to popular or commercial fiction? Can clear distinctions be made? What do these commonly used terms—literary, serious versus commercial, popular—mean to writers? Is it possible to write a commercial novel that is also literary? Writers who have published literary works as well as novels that might be considered popular fiction explore these and other relevant questions.

Room 313, Level 3

R185. Too Much or Not Enough? Expectations in the Introductory Multi-Genre Creative Writing Classroom. (Carrie Shipers, Laurel Gilbert, Heather Kirn Lanier, Casey Thayer) Five teachers from two-year colleges will discuss best practices for teaching introductory-level multi-genre creative writing classes. What are the unique challenges of teaching creative writing in this setting, and how do we respond to them? Panelists will address how much (and what kind) of writing students should do; the appropriate role of reading student and published texts; expectations for revision; and the efficacy of full-class workshop.

1:30-2:45

Room 102, Plaza Level

R187. Party Down: Effective Fundraising Events on the Cheap. (Steph Opitz, Maribeth Batcha, Paul Morris, Eric Lorberer) Fundraising events don’t need to be fancy dinners and formal wear—learn from folks from One Story, PEN America, and Rain Taxi about producing effective and novel small fundraising events and strategies on a budget.

Room 104, Plaza Level

R189. Nothing but the Truth: Perspectives on Creative Nonfiction in the Classroom and Beyond. (Catherine Cortese, Michael Martone, Diane Roberts, Robin Hemley, Debra Monroe) Creative nonfiction continues to grow in popularity among readers and students of writing. The genre, however, lacks a standard definition. Some believe the slippery nature of perception affords writers infinite liberties, while others see the genre as one that artfully deploys stable facts. This disparity makes the genre tricky to write and trickier to teach. The writers on this panel will discuss the freedoms and constraints of the genre in their classrooms, as well as in their own work.

Room 200, Level 2

R196. From Parts to a Whole: Turning a Bunch of Essays into a Unified Book. (David Giffels, Chuck Klosterman, Sean Manning, Chuck Klosterman, Meghan Daum) Why do some books of essays feel like collections of B-sides, outtakes and orphans, while others carry the thematic and narrative satisfaction of a good concept album? Drawing from their own experiences, this panel of successful authors discusses vital techniques for conceiving, organizing, developing, and enhancing a collection of creative nonfiction essays into a unified whole. We will address how to balance recurring themes, maintain voice and tone, how to build bridges, and other topics.

3:00-4:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

R218. Does Place Still Matter? The Relevance of Regional Fiction in the 21st Century. (Brett Boham, Stewart O’Nan, Susan Straight, Alex Espinoza, Michael Jaime-Becerra) Attempts to categorize American literature often begin and end with region. Southern fiction. New England poetry. Midwestern novel. But to what extent is regionalism a useful lens through which to understand contemporary American literature? How do so-called regional writers conceptualize place? And has the expansion of the American counterculture and social media forever changed the landscape of regional fiction? Panelists will discuss the advantages and limitations of thinking regionally.

Room 105, Plaza Level

R220. All the Young Dudes: A Reading from Four Debut Collections. (Jared Yates Sexton, Eugene Cross, Andrew Scott, Jensen Beach) It’s said that everyone has stories, but publishing those stories, particularly a book-length collection of them, is proving more confounding a process than ever. Join four emerging writers with debut collections for a short reading from their work, followed by a Q&A session detailing how they got their first book deals, their experiences in attracting presses and navigating contracts, and an array of advice for aspiring scribes.

Room 200, Level 2

R226. Second Sex, Second Shelf? Women, Writing, and the Literary Marketplace. (Christine Gelineau, Erin Belieu, Bobbie Ann Mason, Lydia Diamond, Meg Wolitzer) Statistics suggest a gap still exists. But is there a problem, and if there is, what is its nature? What changes/remedies/metamorphoses can/should be imagined? Do you think about this issue differently in terms of your writing and in terms of your career? Accomplished writers, who happen to be women, theorize and report out of their own experiences and analysis of the current literary scene.

Room 206, Level 2

R231. The New Kids in the Class—Teachers Under 35. (Michael Croley, Laura van den Berg, Erica Dawson, David James Poissant, Holly Goddard Jones) Five professors discuss their transition from graduate student to faculty member and the advantages and difficulties their age has posed in negotiating—and finding—their teaching styles with undergraduate and MFA students as well as what role(s) they take on in their courses and departments. The session offers insights and best practices regarding the first few years on the job in and out of the classroom, while also discussing how gender may affect the perception of a young teacher.

Room 305, Level 3

R238. Oh, Grow Up: Writing Kids’ Voices in Literary Fiction. (Alexi Zentner, Alison Espach, Aryn Kyle, Haley Tanner) A lot of literary writers are writing young adult novels, but what about writing the voices of young adults and children in literary fiction? Five novelists talk about how to create believable young voices in adult fiction, how to avoid the imitative fallacy, the power of narrative distance, and how to balance grown-up needs while having kids in the story.

Alice Hoffman Bookfair Stage, Exhibit Hall D, Level 2

BF16. Major Jackson’s Ploughshares Issue Reading. (Ladette Randolph, Major Jackson, Maggie Dietz, Emily Bernard, David Huddle) Ploughshares literary magazine editor-in-chief Ladette Randolph will host a reading to celebrate Major Jackson’s guest-edited issue. Jackson will read from his work and speak briefly about his experience selecting work for the magazine. He will be joined by contributors from his issue, including Maggie Dietz, Emily Bernard, and David Huddle.

4:30-5:45

Hynes Ballroom, Level 3

R244. Alice Hoffman & Tom Perrotta: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Grub Street. (Christopher Castellani, Alice Hoffman, Tom Perrotta) Internationally best-selling writers Alice Hoffman and Tom Perrotta, authors of over thirty books between them, read from their recent fiction. After the reading, Grub Street artistic director and novelist Christopher Castellani moderates a discussion that focuses on how these authors continually appeal to wide audiences with novels and stories of great depth, subtlety, and cultural relevance. The discussion will also touch on how these authors use humor and magic in their work, the creative roles they’ve played in their film adaptations, and other topics related to the craft of fiction.

Room 104, Plaza Level

R248. Eros in the Classroom. (Heather McNaugher, Michele Morano, BK Loren, Eileen Myles, Barrie Jean Borich) More than a few academic careers in literature and writing were ignited by a crush on a teacher. But desire in the classroom is constructed, often for good reason, as threatening and inappropriate; we therefore don’t acknowledge or talk about it. This panel, inspired by Michele Morano’s recent Ninth Letter essay, “Crush,” speaks plainly and honestly about the overlap of desire and pedagogy, and how the writer-teacher has constructively channeled it into her/his creative work.

Room 200, Level 3

R255. Thoreau’s Granddaughters: Women Writing the Wild. (Suzanne Roberts, Cheryl Strayed, Pam Houston, Gretchen Legler, Li Miao Lovett) Do women approach writing both the wildness of the land and the wilderness of their own bodies differently from men? Do women have a uniquely feminine vision of what it means to be wild? Are they judged by a different set of aesthetics? These five women panelists, including memoirists, novelists, and poets, will discuss their literary influences, the joys and challenges, and the internal doubts and external criticism they face in writing the wild.

Room 208, Level 2

R262. What to Do Before You Debut. (Randy Susan Meyers, Nichole Bernier, Jane Roper, Carleen Brice) Authors are often naïve about their role in finding readers, and they are rarely taught the iterative steps involved in the process of a book launch. Panelists will share specific methodologies, from best practices for websites, publicity, marketing decisions, and working with publishing houses, to assessing the line between awkward hawking and reasonable audience building. Timelines, methods, and tools offered will be balanced with discussion of the art of finding comfortable promotional voices.

Room 309, Level 3

R270A. Southern Writers in Exile. (Michael Croley, Richard Bausch, Michael Griffith, Steve Yarbrough, Brad Watson) Writers who identify as southern don’t often stray far from home, but as some have moved into teaching positions, they find themselves now living all over the country, out of their comfort zones. This panel explores how that distance has affected each writer’s approach to their craft and teaching, as well as what it means to be a southern writer no longer living in the South, and what role regionalism plays in the landscape of American literature.

FRIDAY

10:30-11:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

F134. Courage, Craft, and Cunning: From MFA Thesis to Published Book. (Jayne Anne Phillips, Will Schutt, Christa Parravani, Ryan McIlvain, Akhil Sharma) This panel features poets and fiction writers whose manuscripts began in their MFA thesis and progressed through revision and invention to first books published by respected presses. Each will read for four minutes, discuss mentorship in their MFA programs, and compare notes on structuring first books, publishers, and the cunning (as in artful, resourceful) required of writers whose lives embrace far more than writing. Audience Q&A will follow.

Room 109, Plaza Level

F139. The Geek in Me: Writing from the Cultural Fringe. (Ethan Gilsdorf, Lizzie Stark, Peter Bebergal) Geek and fringe subcultures such as Dungeons & Dragons, Larping, psychedelia, punk rock, and comic books can be ideal portals through which to examine the self, construct narratives, and comment on the culture at large. In this session, three panelists whose books mix memoir, pop culture, and ethnography discuss best practices for breaking into subcultures conducting fringe culture reportage and using that research to tell powerful and poignant stories about the human condition.

12:00-1:15

Room 101, Plaza Level

F161. Experimental Fiction Today. (John Parras, Daniel Green, Alissa Nutting, Ted Pelton, M. Bartley Seigel) Editors, writers, critics, and teachers discuss recent trends in experimental fiction and how such work enriches the publishing landscape, the creative writing workshop, and the direction and function of literature itself. What are some of the more exciting trends in innovative fiction? What are the special challenges and rewards for writers testing fiction’s limits? How does fabulist work work? If all literature is innovative, what distinguishes the experimental from other types of fiction?

Room 200, Level 2

F171. Does the World Need Another Literary Magazine? (Tom Bligh, Catherine Dent, Dave Essinger, Karolina Gajdeczka, E. Ethelbert Miller) Undergraduate literary journals encourage students to take responsibility for the shape and form of their work and to learn about publishing through firsthand exposure to the process. Panelists share unconventional wisdom on ways to help print and online journals survive and thrive while sustaining enthusiasm and maintaining high standards. Editors discuss the advantages to joining the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) and explain how to start your own FUSE chapter.

Room 202, Level 2

F173. How to Build a Successful Kickstarter Campaign for Your Publishing Project. (Meaghan O’Connell, Benjamin Samuel, Mat Honan, Joshua Mandelbaum, Laurie Ochoa) Kickstarter moderates a panel of editors from Electric Literature, Words Without Borders, Slake, Longshot, and Tomorrow Magazine for an instructional and informational session on developing a successful Kickstarter campaign for your periodical or publishing project. We’ll walk you through the process step by step and discuss how to best represent your brand, set a fundraising goal, shoot a video, create rewards, engage backers, and promote your campaign.

Room 210, Level 2

F180. The Urge Toward Memoir. (Elisabeth Schmitz, Jill Kneerim, Michael Thomas, Jeanette Winterson, Lily King) Novelists Jeanette Winterson, Emily Raboteau, Michael Thomas, agent Jill Kneerim, and editor Elisabeth Schmitz discuss the writer’s urge toward memoir. What defines memoir and is it any more “true” or less creative a process than fiction? Panelists will talk about a favorite memoir and the forms they invented for their own.

1:30-2:45

Room 206, Level 2

F205. A Point of View on A Point of View. (Daniel Menaker, Amy Hempel, Bret Anthony Johnston) Point of view is the lens through which a writer conveys the vision of a story. But what is it about point of view that makes an editor pick an unknown writer out of a pile of unsolicited submissions? And what is it about point of view that makes a series of short stories cohere into an original and memorable collection? In A Point of View on A Point of View, distinguished editor Daniel Menaker and much-anthologized writers Amy Hempel and Bret Anthony Johnston turn a lens on the lens itself.

3:00-4:15

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F219. Don DeLillo & Dana Spiotta: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by The Center for Fiction. (Noreen Tomassi, Don DeLillo, Dana Spiotta) Celebrated novelists Don DeLillo, author of Underworld, Libra, and White Noise, and Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia, present readings, to be followed by a discussion moderated by Noreen Tomassi, Executive Director of the Center for Fiction.

Room 108, Plaza Level

F227. Write Short, Think Long: Exploring the Craft of Writing Flash Nonfiction. (Kathleen Rooney, Sue William Silverman, Peggy Shumaker, Judith Kitchen, Ira Sukrungruang) In celebration of this popular emerging genre, as well as the publication of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers, edited by Dinty W. Moore, five of the book’s twenty-six diverse contributors gather to discuss what makes good flash nonfiction memorable and unique, and to offer up ideas and techniques for writing, publishing, and reading the brief essay form well.

Room 202, Level 2

F233. Women on the Road: Exploration, Inspiration, and Imagination in Fiction. (Tara L. Masih, Mary Akers, Jessica Anthony, Midge Raymond, Laura van den Berg) An exploration of crafting stories and novels that place characters in distant regions and countries, and how travel abroad helped shape the countries of the panelists’ imaginations. Panelists will share travel experiences and photos, inspirations, readings, and the process of creative observation. Tips will be offered on using research to fill in travel gaps, both in contemporary and historical contexts, and on negotiating the complexities of writing about cultures different from one’s own.

4:30-5:45

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F250. Alison Bechdel & Jeanette Winterson: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Emerson College MFA. (Alison Bechdel, Jeanette Winterson, Elisabeth Schmitz) Alison Bechdel, author of the graphic memoir Fun Home and the ground-breaking comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and Jeannette Winterson, author of Written on the Body and the memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, present readings from their work followed by a discussion moderated by Elisabeth Schmitz, Executive Editor at Grove/Atlantic, Inc. The events will be introduced by Emerson College’s Steve Yarborough, author of the novels Safe from the Neighbors and The End of California.

Room 202, Level 2

F263. Blue-collar College Students and the Creative Writing Degree. (Jerry Wemple, Lawrence Coates, Claire Lawrence) Faculty from creative writing programs in rust belt regions that traditionally serve students from blue-collar backgrounds ponder what, exactly, they are preparing their students for, since most undergraduates will not become “professional” writers. The panelists discuss what they are trying to accomplish in their programs, what their graduates feel they’ve learned and how they are using that knowledge, and potential revisions to a program after re-assessment at the ten-year mark.

Room 206, Level 2

F266. Bring Out Your Dead: Writing Ghosts (and Zombies) in Literary Fiction. (Rebecca Makkai, Tea Obreht, Lauren Groff, Dan Chaon, Alexi Zentner) The ghost story thrives in literary fiction as well as the oral tradition, defying genre. How do we keep these compelling tales fresh? How do we frighten without resorting to cheap tricks? How do we navigate the borders between spirituality, science, doubt, and a reliable narrative voice? And why are we drawn to these themes again and again? Five writers introduce you to their ghosts and tell you how they summoned them.

Room 207, Level 2

F267. What We Write About When We Write About Music. (Laurie Lindeen, Rick Moody, Will Hermes, Jen Trynin, Jacob Slichter) All art aspires to music because it touches our hearts, souls, senses, and imaginations This panel of writers, musicians, and writing instructors loves, appreciates, knows, and plays music. They have written passionately about music in memoirs, essays, novels, songs, poetry, and blogs. Each individual on this panel would like to share his or her unique path with prose and music, and share their collective beliefs in the emotional, rhythmic importance of musicality when writing and when teaching writing.

Room 102, Plaza Level

F269. The Literary Legacy of Andre Dubus. (Matthew Batt, Andre Dubus III, Melanie Rae Thon, Nancy Zafris, Bruce Machart) Andre Dubus (1936-1999), author of nine volumes of fiction and two collections of essays, including Meditations from a Moveable Chair and Dancing After Hours, was a long-time resident of Haverhill, Massachussets, and is widely recognized as one of the greatest practitioners and teachers of the contemporary short story. Panelists, including Dubus’s son, a former student, a close friend, and a lifelong fan, will discuss their relationship with Dubus and what they learned from his work and life.

6:00-7:15

Room 110, Hynes Convention Center, Plaza Level

F283. Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors (FUSE) Caucus. (Catherine Dent, Michael Cocchiarale, Esme Franklin, Andrew Baker, Sarah Gzemski) Are you an undergraduate interested in editing and publishing or a faculty member working with undergraduate students on a literary journal or small press? Come join FUSE for its annual meeting, which includes national elections and FUSE chapter updates, followed by a roundtable discussion. This year’s topic is the interdisciplinary nature of undergraduate publishing, i.e. how and why to forge good relationships among departments. Bring ideas and journals to exchange.

8:30-10:15

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

F284. Amy Bloom & Richard Russo: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by Lesley University. (Leah Hager Cohen, Amy Bloom, Richard Russo) Amy Bloom is author of the New York Times best-selling Away: A Novel, and Where the God of Love Hangs Out, a collection of short fiction. Richard Russo is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, Straight Man, and Nobody’s Fool. The reading will begin with an introduction by poet Steven Cramer, director of the Lesley University Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing, and will be followed by a discussion moderated by novelist and critic Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others and House Lights.

Hynes Ballroom, Hynes Convention Center, Level 3

F285. Language at the Breaking Point, Sponsored by Blue Flower Arts. (Kwame Dawes, Jorie Graham, Terrance Hayes) Pulitzer Prize-winner Jorie Graham and National Book Award-winner Terrance Hayes stretch language past the barriers of mind and limitations of personal experience to reinstate a kind of dignity to the world. Their creative tensions puncture the commonplace allowing the familiar to dislocate, laying bare our tenuous connection to life. Yet grace and a vivid, wakeful presence abide. Their poems demonstrate how the excavation of language itself can shape new possibilities for imagination to evolve.

SATURDAY

9:00-10:15

Room 303, Level 3

S123. Puritan Scar, Scarlet Letter: Contemporary Writers on Hawthorne’s Masterwork. (John Domini, Amy Wright, Heidi Julavits, Jennifer Haigh) No novel so established Boston as a literary center as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1850), and few have left such an indelible trace across the American project since. Hester Prynne’s struggle raises core issues of outsider and community in all their moral contrariness. As art, too, the novel sets a rare challenge, working cross-gender and cross-genre, at once romance and realism, transcendental and ambiguous. Panelists assess the impact the book had both locally and worldwide.

10:30-11:45

Room 111, Plaza Level

S137. The Art and Craft of Short-Form Nonfiction. (Sarah Einstein, Joni Tevis, Brian Oliu, Chelsea Biondolillo) Can you write an essay in 140 characters? In 750 words or fewer? And can you get it published once you have? Join the managing editor of Brevity, two authors of short-form collections, and a graduate student working in this exciting new form as they share techniques and strategies for writing and marketing short-form nonfiction—from the lyric to the expository.

Room 200, Level 2

S138. The Lake Effect: A Celebration of Fifty Years of Creative Writing at Syracuse University. (Sarah Harwell, George Saunders, Arthur Flowers, Brooks Haxton, Christopher Kennedy) Syracuse University’s creative writing program celebrates its fifty-year anniversary with a reading by current faculty. The faculty will read from their own work as well as highlight work from a diverse and celebrated group of alumni and past faculty. Readers will include poets Brooks Haxton, Christopher Kennedy, and Sarah Harwell and fiction writers Arthur Flowers and George Saunders.

Room 207, Level 2

S144. Agents, Editors, and the State of Publishing. (Mary Gannon, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Jennifer Joel, Chuck Adams) Agents and editors share behind-the-scenes perspective about what authors need to know about the changing industry of publishing. How have e-books, e-readers, and self-publishing affected the industry? With the closing of Borders and the growing influence of Amazon, how have changes to distribution channels affected the way publishers market books, and what does this mean for authors? How have the best practices for submitting work to agents and editors changed?

Room 302/304, Level 3

S148. Breaking the Jaws of Silence. (Sholeh Wolpe, Kim Addonizio, Tom Sleigh, Quincy Troupe, Yusef Komunyakaa) Poets are a threat to despotic regimes as light is a threat to darkness. In a project to benefit PEN USA’s Freedom to Write program, prominent American poets raise their voices and call on poets to bear witness, to collectively engage, to activate, to call, to give texture, to demand, to caress, to shatter, to build, and to never let the world forget.

Room 306, Level 3

S150. If These Walls Could Talk… Oh Wait, They Do! (Eleanor Henderson, Stewart O’Nan, Tea Obreht) The whole world is a stage, but as fiction writers we get to choose where and when to set a story. That decision can influence everything else in the novel, for better or worse. Four novelists talk about the pressures that settings, both urban and rural, can place on our fiction, and how and why to make choices about landscape.

12:00-1:15

Room 209, Level 2

S172. From the University of Nebraska Press: Readings from The Prairie Schooner Book Prize Anniversary Reader. (Hilda Raz, Shane Book, Brock Clarke, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Susan Blackwell Ramsey) A perfect time capsule of the diverse, experimental trends in American poetry and short fiction over the last ten years, The Prairie Schooner Book Prize Anniversary Reader pulls together excerpts from all twenty winning books of Prairie Schooner’s Book Prize Series. The Press will launch this anthology at AWP 2013; come listen to four of the most successful winners read and hear Hilda Raz, legend and influential founder of the Book Prize Series, discuss finding work that speaks to our living moment.

Room 302/304, Level 3

S174. Write Where You Know: When Setting Serves as a Main Character in a Novel. (John Roche, Jennifer Haigh, Thomas Kelly, Richard Russo) Richard Russo’s bestselling novels, including Pulitzer-winner Empire Falls, uniquely capture a sense of place, whether it’s dying blue-collar towns in upstate New York or New England enclaves. Thomas Kelly, the author of three novels praised for their authentic depiction of New York City, and Jennifer Haigh, whose four novels include Faith, set in Boston, will join Russo in discussing the importance of setting in their fiction, at times to the point where place itself becomes a main character.

Room 306, Level 3

S177. Reading by Grand Central Authors. (Benjamin Percy, Julianna Baggott, Ed Falco) Discover three of the strongest voices in contemporary fiction at a reading by Grand Central’s finest. Julianna Baggott is the author of Pure, the first book in a postapocalypic series which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Ed Falco’s most recent novel, a prequel to The Godfather titled The Family Corleone, is based on material excerpted from screenplays by Mario Puzo. Benjamin Percy’s new novel, Red Moon, is an epic and terrifying story of lycans set in the American West. Prepare for a thrilling night—and take the cannoli.

1:30-2:45

Room 306, Level 3

S204. How to Lose Friends and Alienate Loved Ones: Exploitation vs. Documentation in Creative Nonfiction. (B.J. Hollars, Roxane Gay, Marcia Aldrich, Ryan Van Meter, Bonnie J. Rough) Not every story is flattering, nor is every character. Nevertheless, nonfiction writers continue to document their lives and the lives of others, often at the risk of violating personal relationships. How should writers navigate between revealing the true nature of their subjects without alienating the people themselves? Join four writers as they explore the fine line between documentation and exploitation, among other ethical dilemmas inherent in writing of friends, family, and loved ones.

3:00-4:15

Room 103, Plaza Level

S211. Video Games, Fan Fiction, and Comics: Alternative Genres as Legitimate Literature. (Leslie Salas, Jim Miller, Elaine Phillips, Kirsten Holt) Alternative forms of narrative are often perceived with disdain or suspicion even though they address the same plots, themes, and conditions of respectable literary forms. Comics have begun to break away from this stigma, but what about more mainstream genres, such as fan fiction and video games? How do all three of these alternative forms both threaten and reinforce ideas about originality and narrative? This panel will make the case for alternative genres as creative literature.

Room 200, Level 2

S219. A Reading by Matthew Batt, Jen Percy, and Rob Currie, Jr. (Matthew Batt, Ron Currie, Jr., and Jacob Paul) Matthew Batt, author of Sugarhouse, Ron Currie, Jr., author of God Is Dead, Everything Matters, and Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, and Jacob Paul, author of Sarah/Sara, will read from their recent work, all of which deals with, in the face of catastrophic loss, the sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing ways we try to mend our lives.

Room 210, Level 2

S228. Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love and Money. (Elizabeth Benedict, Stephen McCauley, Stephen Elliott, Maud Newton, Steve Almond) Grace Paley’s advice to writers: Keep your overhead low. But when teaching doesn’t lead to tenure, how do literary writers cobble together a living and a life while writing work that matters? Panelists who have had unconventional careers largely outside the academy examine their decisions and discuss the role of money, literature, and serendipity in their creative pursuits: editing an online literary magazine, writing soft-core porn, and creating advice columns, TV shows, and yoga books under a pseudonym.

Room 302/304, Level 3

S229. Z.Z. Packer & Meg Wolitzer: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. (Cheryl Strayed, Z.Z. Packer, Meg Wolitzer) Fiction writers will give a reading followed by a conversation about race, literature that happens to be written about women (as Wolitzer puts it in a recent New York Times essay), and the realities of the contemporary publishing landscape, moderated by Cheryl Strayed, VIDA board member and author of Wild. AWP participants are encouraged to join a brief Q&A period to be held afterwards.

4:30-5:45

Room 302/304, Level 3

S256. Smart Girls. (Terry Ann Thaxton, Terese Svoboda, Bobbie Ann Mason, Kelly Cherry, Elissa Schappell) Girl does not denote age but power—no men in it. No ladies-first either. A girl’s got gumption. A pre- and post-feminist name for great girl lit. Different from the chick kind, the just-hatched; we’ve been around, we’re serious. This is for women and men who go for it, featuring readings from our books that qualified us for The Smart Girls club. We represent a diversity of age, region, and genres.

8:30-10:00

Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Level 2

S263. Augusten Burroughs & Cheryl Strayed: A Reading & Conversation, Sponsored by the Wilkes University Low-Residency MA/MFA Program in Creative Writing. (Bob Morris, Augusten Burroughs, Cheryl Strayed) Augusten Burroughs, author of memoirs Running with Scissors and Dry, and Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling memoir Wild and the voice behind the Rumpus’s beloved “Dear Sugar” column, will present readings of their work, followed by a discussion moderated by columnist and commentator Bob Morris, author of the memoir Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad. The authors will be introduced by playwright and novelist Bonnie Culver, director of the Wilkes University Low-Residency MA/MFA Program in Creative Writing.

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2012 AWP Guide

And so it begins again. In less than two months we will be reunited in Chi-town to discuss our websites, publications, and favorite Nintendo games. xTx will play Dark Tower. Devan Goldstein will cry. Brian Oliu will rock a track suit. I will undoubtedly ramble about mid-nineties Spider-Man stories to vaguely interested new friends.

A-W-P!

This is my third year writing a guide, and it’s my fourth time attending. Each year has been significantly better than the last. What began as an excuse to hang around an exotic city with my friends has turned into the conference where Facebook Comes to Life! Here are all those people that post things that I click a button to like! And most of them are great people too! And they’re all fun to drink with. Let me recap what I basically said in last year’s guide. There are two AWPs. There’s the day AWP where you engage in thought provoking panels and strike up conversation with interesting people in the bookfair who work for journals and presses. Then there’s the night AWP where you attend reading after reading and everything is in a bar and everyone’s going nuts. It’s the worst. It’s the best. It’s AWP.

In the unlikely event that you’re interested in hanging out with this champion (crickets), here are three times/locations you can definitely find me.

Thursday
7

Convocation in Chicago
Location: Beauty Bar
Cost: Free
PANK, Annalemma, and Mud Luscious will once again host a holy meeting of literary minds. Convocation in Chicago will feature performances by Scott McClanahan, Daiva Markelis, Jac Jemc, Robb Todd, Sal Pane, Brian Oliu, Aubrey Hirsch, Matt Bell, xTx, Chris Newgent, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, Casey Hannan, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Brandi Wells, Doug Paul Case, Ryan Bradley, Myfanwy Collins, Sarah Rose Etter, Laura Ellen Scott, Molly Laich, and Allyson Boggess.

Friday
7
Stymie Magazine Presents: A Really Big Show
Location:Theory Sport.Dine.Lounge; 9 W. Hubbard
Cost: FREE
Stymie Mag is coming to AWP 2012 and we’re throwing a party, or at least a reading with words, beverages, and good times at Theory Sports Lounge. We couldn’t be more excited and hope you are too (and that you’ll mark the date/time on what we’re sure is an already busy AWP calendar)!

Featuring:
Cynthia Hawkins, Tim Kahl, Jeanie Chung, James O’Brien, Lauren Becker, Alex Moody, Steven Kowalski, Joseph Baron-Pravda, Diane Durant McGurren, Shaindel Beers, Sal Pane, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Joe Ponepinto, J. Bradley, Megan Cass, Elijah Burrell, Ilan Mochari, Tyler Gobble, Mark Cugini, and Maria Nazos

Saturday
10:30am-11:45am
S143. Vampire by Vampire: Genre Writing and the Creative Writing Workshop
(Jeffrey Condran, Aubrey Hirsch, Alissa Nutting, Salvatore Pane)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
At a time when many students’ visual literacy is as highly developed as their traditional literary skills, when genre fiction dominates publisher and best-seller lists, and when many writers of literary fiction are open to narratives that reach beyond realism, instructors are often under pressure to include genre traditions in the fiction workshop. Four fiction writers teaching at colleges with diverse missions share stories and discuss strategies for including genre conventions in the workshop.

Below are the panels I’m thinking of attending. Let me be extremely clear on this. These aren’t the top however many panels of AWP. These are just the ones I’m most interested in seeing. That means there’s a huge fiction/comics/pedagogy/small press bias. Also, I’ll be rolling out a guide to the outside events sometime in the near future. Get pumped.

Thursday
9-10:15

R103. A Writing Life, After the Workshop
(Ilana Shabanov, April Newman, Daniel Prazer, James Lower, Sheree Greer)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
This intensive presentation covers what your MFA program might have missed: how to organize and sustain a writing life in today’s economy. Our event showcases planning ideas, technology solutions, and tools writers can use to take control of their career and maintain a writing lifestyle long-term. The approach is engaging to the audience, displaying websites and tools available to writers to promote their work. The audience members will come away with resources and an action plan for their writing life. A Q&A session follows.

R104. The Constant Critic Anniversary Panel: Poetry Reviewing in the 21st Century
(Karla Kelsey, Ray McDaniel, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Vanessa Place, Jordan Davis)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
In 2002, Fence publisher Rebecca Wolff began the Constant Critic, an online-only poetry book review website. The venues for poetry criticism have dramatically altered in the past ten years, but the ,CC, has remained. This panel, staffed by the site’s five critics (two of whom have been with the project since the beginning) discusses what it means to have a lengthy presence in one venue along with issues surrounding the rapidly changing world of poetry publication, dissemination, and criticism.

R108. Reports from the Trenches: Teaching Novel and Novella Workshops
(Richard Sonnenmoser, Sabina Murray, Katherine Karlin, Cynthia Reeves)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Workshops focused on long-form narratives are difficult for many creative writing teachers to imagine. This panel focuses on issues related to the effective teaching of novel and novella workshops for graduates and undergraduates. Panelists who have been in the trenches of long-form workshops will discuss course design and suggested readings and give advice about the problems specific to workshops focused on longer forms.

R111. Of, By, and For the People: Indie Lit in the Second City
(S. Whitney Holmes, Jacob S. Knabb, James Tadd Adcox, Amanda Marbais, Jonathan Fullmer)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Editors from a range of Chicago publications—online and print, established and upstart—discuss why independent literature thrives in Chicago, how their organizations contribute to a dynamic local literary community, and how their publications contextualize the city’s contemporary literary landscape for readers outside of Chicago. Panelists invite questions about how to get involved in the literary and publishing community in Chicago and offer advice for fostering such a community in any city.

R117. The Business of Publishing Your Novel with an Independent Press: Author and Publisher Perspectives
(Dennis Johnson, Joe Meno, Adam Levin, Christopher Boucher, Leigh Stein)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Melville House publisher and co-founder Dennis Johnson leads a practical discussion of the publishing process with four authors in various stages of their literary careers: Joe Meno has had seven books published since 1999, Adam Levin’s first novel was a 2010 critical hit, and Christopher Boucher and Leigh Stein have debut novels appearing in 2011 and 2012. Topics include acquisitions, editing, big house versus indie publishing, publicity, marketing, tours, social networking, and the changing role of the author.

R119. Flash Points: Publishing Flash Fiction in an Evolving Landscape
(Glenn Shaheen, Roxane Gay, Nancy Stebbins, Edward Mullany, Adam Peterson)
Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Editors from PANK, NANO Fiction, matchbook, SmokeLong Quarterly, and the Cupboard discuss trends they see in the flash fiction submitted to their journals. What are some tropes they’re tired of? Things they wish they’d see more often? Are prose poems and flash fiction pieces scrutinized differently when submitted? Join the editors as they attempt to (briefly, of course) characterize the landscape of contemporary flash fiction and give advice to those who are submitting their shortest work.

10:30-11:45

R127. Ideas That Always Work; Solutions That Never Fail: Best Practices for the Creative Writing Workshop
(Christopher Castellani, Ethan Gilsdorf, Lisa Borders, Jill McDonough)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Every workshop has problems: the dude who won’t stop talking; the lady who keeps psychoanalyzing; the inappropriately dirty/violent/creepy story. Every workshop needs new ideas: unique exercises that always yield worthwhile pages; rules that structure conversation without squashing spontaneity. In this panel, instructors of all genres will share case studies of how they deal with common problems and also reveal their best strategies for maximizing the effectiveness and fairness of workshops.

R130. Angles of Ascent
(Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dawn Lundy Martin, Vievee Francis)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
In this reading, representative voices of eighty poets spanning three generations discuss and read from the anthology Angles of Ascent (edited by Charles Rowell). This landmark project was published by W. W. Norton in February 2012. Toi Derricotte, Major Jackson, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Vievee Francis will discuss the nature and importance of Angles of Ascent in American poetry. This will be followed by twenty minutes of readings and a ten-minute exchange with the audience.

R134. Phoning It In: Publishing through an iPhone App
(Maribeth Batcha, Tyler Meier, Sunyoung Lee, Daniel Pritchard, Chad Post)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Representatives from five leading publishers—Boston Review, Kaya Press, Kenyon Review, One Story, Open Letter—discuss their experiences: the pitfalls, successes, and strategies of publishing digitally.

R142. Ten Years of Literary Politics: Is There Still Room and Interest in the New Marketplace?
(Dennis Johnson, Valerie Merians, Jessa Crispin)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Jessa Crispin, founder of the seminal lit-blog Bookslut, leads a discussion with Melville House founders Valerie Merians and Dennis Johnson on the challenges and importance of publishing political literature in a changing industry. Topics explored include: books of longform cultural and political rhetoric in the age of the Internet, the specific demands of political publishing, and the dedication to activism in the arts.

12-1:15

R153. Writing the American West
(D. Seth Horton, Antonya Nelson, Toni Jensen, K. L. Cook, Claire Vaye Watkins)
Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Best of the West: New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri is an annual anthology of exceptional short fiction rooted in the western United States. Four award-winning contributors gather to read from their recently anthologized work. They will be introduced by D. Seth Horton, the series co-editor

R159. A Novel Problem: Moving from Story to Book in the MFA Program
(Cathy Day, David Haynes, Patricia Henley, Sheila O’Connor, Elizabeth Stuckey-French)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Short stories are often our main pedagogical tools, but the book is the primary unit of literary production. When are apprentice writers ready to write novels, and how do we review them in a workshop setting? How can we create courses and curricula that encourage students to move toward and complete book projects? This panel will explore the challenges of accommodating the novel or the novel-in-stories within the structure of an MFA program.

R164. A Reading from the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop Instructors
(David Lynn, David Baker, Nancy Zafris, Rebecca McClanahan, Geeta Kothari)
Wiliford A, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Held annually in the month of June, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop is a week-long residential writing experience that focuses on the generation of new material in an intimate, creative, and productive setting. This reading by recent faculty offers the opportunity to hear the work of returning instructors and will include an audience guided Q&A about Kenyon’s process-oriented approach.

R170. Villains and Killers and Criminals, Oh My: Representing Evildoers in Literary Fiction
(Reese Okyong Kwon, Matt Bell, Eugene Cross, Brian Evenson, Lauren Groff)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Iago, the Misfit, Milton’s Satan, Judge Holden—some of the most memorable characters in literature have been the evil ones. “The death of Satan was a tragedy / For the imagination,” said Wallace Stevens. If this is true, how can fiction writers profit from the inclusion of villainy, and what might be lost? Join writers as they discuss their experiences incorporating elements of evil into their fiction, providing examples from their own and others’ work.

1:30-2:45

R175. The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment, and Earn
(Christina Katz, Jane Friedman, Seth Harwood, Robert Lee Brewer)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
What can a professor, a journalist, a novelist, and a poet teach you about new media? Using real-life examples from our own experience and that of other tech-savvy writers, we’ll construct a composite of how working writers use technology to invest in their careers, experiment and launch new works, and grow their income opportunities. Whether you need a day job, a part-time job, or just enough gigs to pay a few bills, there have never been so many ways for tech-savvy writers to earn.

R180. East and West: Creative Nonfiction and the Possibility of Post-Orientalist Travel Writing
(Joshua Schriftman, Faith Adiele, Fred D’Aguiar, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Oona Patrick)
Joliet, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
New travel writing too often builds on old notions of race. Developing cultures get reduced to romantic piquancy, and national identities become exotic foils to Western quests for identity: find prayer in one nation; food in another; love in a third. We may know Orientalism when we see it, but does this ultimately help us as writers to avoid it? How can Westerners writing on Eastern experiences use the tools of creative nonfiction to write outside of these old imperialist patterns?

R187. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Reading
(Peter Mountford, Alexander Chee, Bruce Machart, Dean Bakopoulos)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
A reading by four writers who have had books published in 2011 by one of the most esteemed publishing houses in the United States, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The authors will read from their diverse work and discuss the challenges and benefits of publishing literary fiction with a large publishing house and the changing landscape for emerging novelists.

R191. Keeping a Debut Book Alive
(Justin Taylor, Heidi Durrow, Marie Mockett, Joanna Smith Rakoff, Dylan Landis)
Crystal Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
What happens once a publisher says yes? First, champagne—then the author’s hard work starts. In this economy, relying solely on an in-house publicist, especially for a novel or story collection, can hurt a new book from a little-known writer. Four emerging authors reveal how they generated their own buzz. They discuss publicists, websites, mailing lists, social networking, book festivals, blogging, the art of coaxing people to readings, the legendary book tour—and who really pays for it all.

R193. The Bookstore Is Not Your Best Friend: Effective Small Press Marketing Strategies
(Colleen McKee, C.J. Kearns, Erin Wiles, Behnam Riahi, Winnie Sullivan)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Many publishers and authors starting out mistakenly assume that the first (or even only) places they should market their books and journals to are bookstores. While bookstores should be their friends—and often are—they are not necessarily their best friends. In this panel, publishers and PR people from young yet successful small presses discuss alternative venues for readings and book sales, from anarchist bakeries to punk bars, galleries to outdoor fairs, burlesque nights to feminist groups.

R195. Beyond Pulp—The Futuristic and Fantastic as Literary Fiction
(Anjali Sachdeva, Victoria Blake, Kevin Brockmeier, Brian Evenson, Matthew Williamson)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
This panel examines the role of science fiction, horror, and fantasy writing in the world of serious literature. Literary journals’ submission guidelines often include the phrase “no genre fiction,” but these genres include talented writers who wield all the tools of literary fiction. Why are fantasy and sci-fi so often considered trivial? How do publishers separate literary genre writing from pulp fiction? The panel will discuss how literary genre writing is promoted, written, and published.

3-4:15

R208. Periodical Wisdom: Advising Student-Run Lit Mags
(Jay Baron Nicorvo, Jennifer Acker, Don Lee)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Current faculty advisors and publishers of literary magazines discuss the ins and outs of directing a student-run publication.

R212. There Will Be Blood: Writing Violence in Fiction
(Alexi Zentner, Antonya Nelson, Benjamin Percy, Alan Heathcock)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
As writers, we are often told to kill our darlings and to leave blood on the page. But what if we really mean it? Four writers talk about when, why, and how to introduce violence into fiction, how to choreograph a moment of physical savagery, and walking the line between too little and too much bloodshed.

R215. Points of View/Angles of Approach
(Peter Turchi, Robert Boswell, C.J. Hribal, Susan Neville)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Point of view is one of the most complex of the basic elements of fiction, with far more variables and possibilities than general discussions typically acknowledge. The writers and teachers on this panel will discuss “Deep Point of View: what we don’t talk about when we talk about point of view”; “The Reliably Unreliable Consciousness”; “First Person: From I to IIIIII”; and “Don’t Be So Sure: Interrogating the First-Person Narrator.”

R218. The Geometry of the Novel: Making “Shapelier” Fiction
(Peter Grandbois, Debra Di Blasi, Michael Martone, Lance Olsen)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
While Jerome Stern’s classic Making Shapely Fiction focuses on alternative narrative forms, most of the shapes are actually variations of the Freytag pyramid, for example, his “Journey,” “Visitor,” “Bear at the Door,” and “Aha” shapes. This panel seeks to expand Stern’s premise in order to explore not only the power alternative shapes offer in driving longer, book-length narratives, but also the aesthetic beauty of geometries that work with a story, not against it.

R221. What about Blog?: How Blogging Can Propel Your Career and Polish Your Craft
(Sarah Klenakis, Turi Fesler, Claire Bidwell Smith, Rachel Vogel, Caitlin Leffel)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Sure, lots of writers blog, but what can you do to actually capitalize from your daily posts? A writer, editor, literary agent, and blog sponsor come together to discuss what appeals to them when reading online, how you can better attract followers, make money from your blogging, and possibly even find a job. From sharing success stories to blogging “don’ts,” this panel will clarify the murky waters that surround online writing.

4:30-5:45

R233. The Renaissance of Midwestern Literature
(Jason Lee Brown, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Dan Chaon, Mark Wisniewski, Rebecca Makkai)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
There is no doubt that midwestern literature exists, but how do we define and support its eccentricities and its coexisting relationship with other regional literature? Contributors to the new anthology New Stories from the Midwest read excerpts of their work and comment on the burgeoning renaissance of midwestern literature.

R236. What’s Wrong with the Whole Truth?
(Susan Resnick, Philip Gerard, Peter Trachtenberg, Paige Williams, Rebecca Skloot)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Many writers feel comfortable molding the truth to create a more satisfying story, yet still calling their piece nonfiction as long as the emotional core and basic frame of the work remain true. Not the writers on this panel. These authors, journalists, and nonfiction professors will explore the philosophy of factual versus emotional honesty and discuss how to achieve both—beautiful and moving nonfiction writing that is 100% true.

R238. Opening the Circle: Connecting Workshop Pedagogy and Public Audiences
(Sarah Harris, Tim Mayers, Dale Rigby, Drew Krewer)
Wiliford B, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
The CW workshop has been often critiqued, but seldom clearly defined. We argue that the workshop is a valuable space for openness, collaboration, and creativity, and these pedagogical aims can be achieved when the circle of the workshop is opened to include real-world audiences. Presenters will describe current methods of instruction used in the workshop and present attendees with a variety of workshop methods that allow students working in various genres to connect their work with audiences.

R239. Poetry Reading for Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability
(Jim Ferris, Cecil Giscombe, Stephen Kuusisto, Laurie Clements Lambeth, Ellen McGrath Smith)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
A reading by poets featured in the new anthology Beauty is a Verb: New Poetry of Disability. The book originated from a panel of the same name presented at the 2010 AWP conference in Denver. Following the panel, presenters Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen came together to develop the anthology.

R244. The Way the Wind Blows: Trends in Contemporary Short Fiction
(Todd James Pierce, Steve Yarbrough, Kevin Moffett, M.M.M. Hayes, Darlin’ Neal)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
In this panel, five noted short-story authors identify trends in contemporary short fiction. From the research-based stories of Andrea Barrett and Jim Shepherd to the sardonic explorations of Stacey Richter and George Saunders, this discussion will focus on how the form of the short story has evolved over the past ten years, with an eye toward understanding where the form is headed.

7:00-8:15

A Reception Hosted by Chatham University
Private Dining Room 4, Hilton Chicago Hotel 3rd Floor
Join students and faculty from Chatham University for a reception.

Friday
9:00-10:15

F112. The Fiction Chapbook—A Sleeper Form Wakes Up
(Nicole Louise Reid, Eric Lorberer, Diane Goettel, Kevin Sampsell, Abigail Beckel)
Marquette, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
In recent years, the literary marketplace has seen an upswing in publication of fiction manuscripts as chapbooks—a format associated mainly with poetry. A chapbook is the perfect medium for a short story or a clutch of short-shorts, and is capable of bringing an intimacy and aesthetic appeal unattainable by full-length books. Editors from Black Lawrence Press, Future Tense Books, Rain Taxi, RopeWalk Press, and Rose Metal Press, will discuss a range of experiences with this exciting format.

F116. Thirty Years of Award-Winning Short Fiction: The Drue Heinz Literature Prize
(Shannon Cain, Adria Bernardi, Tina May Hall, Edith Pearlman)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
The University of Pittsburgh Press celebrates thirty years of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for short fiction, featuring a panel of four DHLP winners. The authors will read from their work and discuss how they discovered their literary talent, what inspires their writing, what excites them about the writing process, and how their work fits into their daily routine. The audience is invited to participate in a Q&A, and the authors will sell and sign copies of their books following the event.

F119. Literature and the Internet in 2012
(Roxane Gay, Stephen Elliott, Blake Butler, James Yeh)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The literary editors of four leading web magazines—HTMLGiant, the Rumpus, PANK, and the Faster Times—offer a roundtable discussion about how the Internet is changing literature and literary publishing in the 21st century.

10:30-11:45

F138. Apocalypse Now: A Multi-Genre Reading of Apocalyptic Literature
(Brian Barker, T.R. Hummer, Pinckney Benedict, Judy Jordan, Kevin Brockmeier)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Earthquakes, global warming, peak oil, and giant, man-eating ants: every generation has its version of the apocalypse and an abundance of writers who write about it. In recent years, the end of the world has become the subject for a number of literary writers, and a new genre of literature is emerging. Five award-winning poets and novelists read from their apocalyptic literature, examining how their work has been influenced by recent events and by the sense of impending doom we humans share.

F145. The Hollywood Stint: Prose Writers and Writing for the Screen
(Andrew Scott, Douglas Light, Tom Chiarella, John McNally, Owen King)
Red Lacquer Room, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Writing for Hollywood has long appealed to prose stylists such as Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and many contemporary writers. These panelists will discuss writing across genres, what’s required to write for the screen, how their fiction writing skills aid or hinder their attempts to please Hollywood, their dealings with producers, studios, and television networks, and the changing perceptions about screenwriting within creative writing programs.

F147. Home and Away: The Influence of Travel on Writing
(Stephan Clark, Sabina Murray, Jeff Parker, Kyle Minor, Jensen Beach)
Wabash Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Every writer works alone, but some go to great distances to do so. This panel brings together five writers who have traveled extensively—to Australia, Haiti, Hungary, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine—to discuss how travel and living abroad have enriched their fiction and nonfiction, allowing them to tell stories they otherwise would not have known and, paradoxically, better write about their own culture.

12:00-1:15

F149. Ghostwriting the Eulogy: How to Survive and Make Your Name beyond the Academy with a Degree in Creative Writing
(Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, Kim Addonizio, Dana Gioia, Maggie Dietz, Simone Muench)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
With the expansion of programs in creative writing, more and more degreed creative writers are overwhelming the academic job market, causing many of us to seek different ways to make a buck while continuing to write. Ghostwriting, editing, independent scholarship, running a workshop, writing for TV: you name it and the five poets and novelists on this panel have done it. They will share with us the creative ways they’ve found to make a living and some tricks they’ve learned along the way.

F153. A Reading and Conversation with Jaimy Gordon and Rebecca Skloot
(Jaimy Gordon, Rebecca Skloot, Donna Seaman)
Grand Ballroom, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
A reading and conversation by best-selling authors Jaimy Gordon and Rebecca Skloot. The conversation will be moderated by critic and editor Donna Seaman.

F154. Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem
(Harold Schechter, Cornelius Eady, Lynn Emanuel, Patricia Smith, Brian Turner)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
What are the moral implications of writing about violence? Where is the line between portraying violence and exploiting it? The danger of writing about violence is that we might wind up aestheticizing it. If there is a difference between sensationalism and truth, when do we put down the pen and do something to help the victims? Or is writing about violence a form of action, an effective way of addressing the problem? Panelists will address these questions and more.

F156. Measuring Creativity: What Do Grades Have to Do with Artistry?
(Cass Dalglish, Heather Gibbons, Kate Green, Ellen McGrath Smith, Cary Waterman)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Creative writing teachers constantly face the inadequacies of conventional grading as they work in an unconventional field that often defies prescriptive norms. Five faculty members with diverse backgrounds—lecturer, instructor, assistant professor, and professor from community college, private college, and public university settings—will offer meaningful assessment tools for the survival of students and teachers alike, including self-evaluation, scoring machines, grade contracts, and chapbooks.

F160. Works in Progress Mix Tape
(Ken Chen, Nami Mun, Don Lee, Prageeta Sharma)
Marquette, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Participants read new work and the life behind their literature: private writing rituals, relationships with mentors and peers, favorite books, songs on iTunes repeat and performance-enhancing alcoholic drinks, social media and other procrastination devices. Ask nicely and they’ll talk about writing as Asian Americans when only 5% of the authors reviewed in the New York Times are writers of color. Presented by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.

F166. Short but Not Too Sweet: Three Emerging Writers Read from Debut Story Collections
(Megan Mayhew-Bergman, Emma Straub, Stuart Nadler)
Crystal Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Long live the short story! Writers are often discouraged from pursuing short story collections, but this panel will prove they are still viable. Come hear emerging writers read from their debut story collections. The panelists will then engage in an honest, lively, and practical discussion about what it takes to get a short story collection published and open the floor for questions.

1:30-2:45

F178. National Book Critics Circle Celebrates Award-Winning Authors
(Jane Ciabattari, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jennifer Egan, Jane Smiley, Isabel Wilkerson, Darin Strauss)
Grand Ballroom, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
A reading by Bonnie Jo Campbell (AWP Prize, 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist in Fiction), Jennifer Egan (2011 National Book Critics Circle and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), Jane Smiley (1992 National Book Critics Circle Award and Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), Darin Strauss (2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction), and Isabel Wilkerson (2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction and Pulitzer Prize Winner in Journalism).

F181. Reinventing Realism: The Craft of Alice Munro
(Catherine Brady, Rachel Hall, Kim Aubrey, Michael Byers, Alice LaPlante)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Alice Munro has much to teach about the elegant execution of craft fundamentals. She also deserves her due as a daring innovator who’s inexhaustibly curious about the possibilities of form and the conventions of fiction writing. Panel participants will discuss Munro’s use of time in narrative; consider her methods of characterization, including her depiction of thought; and discuss her manipulation of point of view in the service of dynamic plotting.

F182. Let’s Work Together: Pedagogies of Rhetoric in the Creative Writing Class
(Richard Greenfield, Minal Singh, R.J. Lambert, Robert Houghton, EmmaLee Pallai)
Lake Huron, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Exploring the intersection of creative writing and composition, this panel will discuss pedagogy practices where the writing of composition texts integrates creative writing pedagogy with an emphasis on rhetoric. We will also discuss the benefits of utilizing rhetorical analysis as the basis of discussing creative writing texts in workshop as well as informing composition of the creative writing text itself. Each member of the panel will provide assignments or exercises as examples.

F189A. Anytown, USA: Representing Place in Fiction
(Ron Hansen, Ladette Randolph, Eric Goodman, Sherrie Flick, Robert Vivian)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
How do we define place in fiction? Does the location matter? How do place and region shape the writing and vise versa? This panel aims to answer the larger question of how to define place while also representing the sometimes misunderstood middle coast, featuring authors whose fiction is set in the Heartland, a place many times more clearly defined by what it is not than by what it is. Each author will share a unique approach to representing place in writing.

F196. Between Song and Story: A Reading from the New Autumn House Nonfiction Anthology
(Sheryl St. Germain, Debra Marquart, Michele Morano, John Price, Jane Fishman)
Wabash Room, Palmer House Hilton, 3rd Floor
Readings and discussion from the newly published Autumn House anthology of essays, Between Song and Story: Essays for the 21st Century. This anthology is the first of its kind to focus on the lyric and formally adventurous essay. Five contributors, including one of the editors, will read and discuss their essays, focusing on formal strategies that challenge the traditional essay form.

3:00-4:15

F208. Will Write for Food: Writers Working Outside Academia
(Chloe Miller, Alison Hicks, Patricia Lewis, Valerie Martinez, August Tarrier)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
During the past two years, openings in English departments declined more than 40%. Creative writing tenure-track openings declined more than 30%. At the same time, the demand for writing opportunities is widening, encompassing community-based, travel, and virtual writing communities. Panelists will discuss writing lives outside academia, including entrepreneurial ventures in online teaching and mentoring, editing and coaching services, workshops and retreats, and community engagement projects.

F218. Gender Interrupted: Poetry of the Alternatively Gendered
(Stacey Waite, Joy Ladin, Ely Shipley, Samuel Ace)
Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
This reading features the work of alternatively gendered poets and writers, work that re-imagines and redefines the terrain of gender itself. In this unique and first-of-its-kind reading, the voices of transsexual, transgendered, and intersexed writers make their contribution to the rich and diverse aesthetics and politics of queer writing in the 21st century.

4:30-5:45

F232. Writing Games: Gaming, Digitally, and Creative Writing Pedagogy
(Stuart Moulthrop, Lane Hall, Anne Wysocki, W. Trent Hergenrader, Matthew Trease)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
This panel discusses relationships among writing, digitality, games, and the creative writing classroom. Addressing Surrealist parlour games, Oulipian constrained writing techniques, Candyland, Uno, animation, and videogames, panelists consider the possibilities of games and digitality for developing generative writing exercises and helping students understand how textual experimentation fits within the craft of writing.

F238. Chapbook Publishing in the 21st Century
(Genevieve Kaplan, Lucas Southworth, Kristy Bowen, Elizabeth Wilcox, Ander Monson)
Wiliford B, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Even as print traditions are evolving rapidly, chapbook publishers embrace and promote a somewhat antiquated literary form: the printed chapbook. Chapbook editors and publishers participating in this roundtable will offer perspectives on the business and art of the chapbook, centering their discussion around advantages of the printed chapbook format, aesthetics and innovations in chapbook publishing, and methods for success for new and established chapbook publishing ventures.

F245. Finding the Time—And Money!—to Write
(Angela Veronica Wong, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Kirstin Chen, Farrah Field, Kim Liao)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
All writers struggle with this quandary: either we have time to write and no money, or money and no time. But there are ways you can have both! Get practical advice and aesthetic inspiration from five writers under thirty-five who have all received grants, residencies, and fellowships propelling their careers forward. Especially useful to emerging writers battling the post-MFA slump, all genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, scholarly research/writing) and many varieties of funding sources are addressed.

Saturday
9:00-10:15

S103. Connecting with Readers via Your Website and Social Media
(Michele Wolf, Kim Addonizio, Leslie Pietrzyk, Matt Bell, Paul Lisicky)
Boulevard Room A,B,C, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
Having a vibrant, user-friendly Web presence—via your own website (supplementing a publisher’s and/or employer’s page for you), blogging, Facebook, and other social media—has become a key asset for engaging readers and students, being part of the conversation, and expanding interest in your work. Learn how to create an appealing, fun-to-click site that best represents your books and passions, what resources and social media contact that readers most appreciate, and what pitfalls to avoid.

S104. Midwest Gothic: Dark Fiction of the Heartland
(Jodee Stanley, Brian Kornell, Dan Chaon, Cathy Day, Michael Czyzniejewski)
Continental A, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
From the stories of Sherwood Anderson to contemporary Midwestern fiction, authors have explored the darkness that lies beneath the placid exterior of an often-dismissed region of America. Five Midwest-based writers and editors will discuss how the prairie landscape and traditionally Midwestern character traits, including politeness, stoicism, and a wariness of the unknown, combine with traditional Gothic literary elements to create a rarely discussed subgenre of fiction, Midwest Gothic.

10:30-11:45

THIS IS WHEN MY PANEL IS, DOPES.

12:00-1:15.

S165. Mine Is Clouds: Revisiting the Life and Work of Richard Brautigan
(Shawn Mitchell, Joe Meno, Sean Lovelace, Theresa Williams)
Empire Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
A forefather of flash, a witty poet, and a great American surrealist, Brautigan has influenced artists ranging from Haruki Murakami to Neko Case and from Aimee Bender to Tobias Wolff. But despite having sold millions of books during his lifetime, he remains less known compared to other Beat and cult writers. At this panel contributors to the forthcoming tribute anthology, Mine Is Clouds, will consider Brautigan’s importance today and celebrate his life and legacy with a reading of his work.

1:30-2:45 

S180. Writing Visually: Using Comics in the Writing Classroom
(Anne Panning, Matt Madden, Hillary Chute, Jarod Roselló, Jessica Abel)
Lake Michigan, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
Many incorporate reading comics in their classes these days. But how can you use comics to teach writing? On this panel, two teaching cartoonists and three literature and writing professors will discuss ways to introduce the practice of comics into the creative writing classroom and how that can benefit students’ writing—of prose as well as of comics. Approaches include the Bechdel method of writing comics without drawing and using panels to visually activate prose (or poetic) writing.

S183. Ambitious Fiction: Tackling Big Ideas, Lots of Characters, and/or Lush Language
(Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jane Smiley, Achy Obejas, Allen Gee, Brian Bouldrey)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
Everyone admires a spare, economical story or novel that moves forward with seemingly little effort. But some stories just can’t be told simply. They may have a large cast of characters. They may involve big, even complicated, ideas. They may call for a lush, rather than frugal, style. What is involved in biting off a big storytelling mouthful? This group of fiction writers will discuss their choices to sometimes write rich, rather than minimalist, fiction.

S189. A Reading Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of Product, the Center for Writers Literary Journal
(Kent Quaney, Michael Knight, Andy Plattner, Mary Miller, Damian Dressick)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi has just published the 25th anniversary edition of its student literary journal, Product, and as a celebration of this landmark will present a reading to showcase some of the best writers the program has produced. Noted alumni Michael Knight and Andy Plattner, recent graduate Mary Miller, and current student Damian Dressick will represent the Center for Writers in a reading exemplifying the artistic standard of the program.

S190. Unrequited Love: Renewing Your Vows to the Troublesome Novel
(Elizabeth Brundage, Stewart O’Nan, Jenna Blum, Alice Elliot Dark, Carole DeSanti)
Honoré Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, Lobby Level
Unpublished novels are like unrequited love affairs, they linger in the hearts and minds of writers for years to come; many of us have one stashed in a drawer. And yet often within the existing work, a new novel can be rescued. This panel will explore strategies of revision, encouraging a fresh perspective, a renewed faith in the text. Other topics will include structural elements such as characterization, pacing, thematic possibilities, and our enduring commitment to the sentences we make.

S192. You + Me = We: Collaborative Authorship as Pedagogical Practice
(Lily Hoang, Sequoia Nagamatsu, EmmaLee Pallai, Adam Crittenden, Kelsie Hahn)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Authors often work together to create scholarly articles, novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, and beyond. Collaboration allows all parties to parlay their strength to the page, be it research, sentence structure, concept, or more. It also provides a rich learning experience improving not just writing skills, but also interpersonal skills. This panel will discuss ways of incorporating the collaborative model of authorship in the composition and creative classrooms.

3:00-4:15

S206. Orion 30th Anniversary Reading
(Jennifer Sahn, Amy Leach, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Benjamin Percy, Luis Alberto Urrea)
Waldorf, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
For thirty years, Orion has used literature to bring our relationship with the natural world alive, in the belief that the arts connect people to the world, inspire action, and provide a way of thinking about a better future for people and the planet. Join Orion’s Editor-in-Chief and four of the innovative and exemplary writers who have helped make Orion one of the most respected magazines dedicated to the intersection of literature and the environment.

S215. Men from Venus, Women from Mars: Writing from the Perspective of the Opposite Sex
(Reese Okyong Kwon, Jennine Capó Crucet, Alan Heathcock, Kyle Minor, Kevin Wilson)
State Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
The old canard that fiction writers should write what they know would seem to prohibit writing from the point of view of characters of the opposite sex. Meanwhile, some of the most believable and compelling men in literature have been created by women, and vice versa. What is the appeal of writing from the head of an opposite-sex character, and how does one do so credibly? What politics should we consider? Panelists will offer perspectives, tips, and examples of effective embodiment of the other.

4:30-5:45 

S220. Ear Candy: Teaching the Pleasures of Poetic Meter
(Liz Ahl, Jeff Oaks, Annie Finch, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Tara Betts)
Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level
Rooted in a diversity of aesthetic and pedagogical perspectives, this panel focuses on the teaching and learning of meter: how, when, and why might one teach meter to young poets? Is teaching meter like teaching other elements of poetic craft and technique? Is meter akin to music or language when it comes to learning and teaching? How can we help our students sing out rather than slog through? How might activities like scansion, reading aloud, or imitation, help poets develop an ear for meter?

S223. Poetry Reading: Pitt Poetry Series
(Ed Ochester, Toi Derricotte, Ross Gay, Julia Spicher Kasdorf, David Wojahn)
International Ballroom South, Hilton Chicago, 2nd Floor
Series Editor Ed Ochester will introduce the poets as they read from their new books from the Pitt Poetry Series of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

S225. Home Sweet Home: Short Story Collections and Small Presses
(Caitlin Horrocks, Amina Gautier, Shannon Cain, Adam Schuitema, Kelcey Parker)
Lake Erie, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor
With trade publishers less willing to take a risk on story collections and agents and editors advising writers to just finish a novel, where can the story writer turn? Five debut authors discuss their experiences with the small, independent, and university presses that are increasingly the most welcoming homes for story collections. They’ll discuss how they found their publishers, what small publishers can (and can’t) offer story authors, and how these presses are helping collections thrive.

S233. The Art of the Short Story Collection
(Mary Rockcastle, Richard Bausch, Laura van den Berg, Tiphanie Yanique, Daniel Libman)
Wiliford C, Hilton Chicago, 3rd Floor
In the successful short story collection, the individual stories must move, delight, and entertain, and the collection as a whole must do so as well. What makes a collection of short stories a satisfying whole? How should it be put together? What should the writer consider when deciding upon content, placement, length, title? How easy or hard is it to sell? Robert Bausch, acknowledged master of the short story form and author of eight collections of short stories, joins three authors of very different, all successful, debut short story collections. Each will talk about his/her process in creating, shaping, and publishing the short story collection.

S236. Why Independent Publishers Matter / Independent Publishers and the Changing Industry
(Michael Miller, Tom Roberge, Jeff Shotts, Laura Howard, Eric Obenouf)
Grand Ballroom, Palmer House Hilton, 4th Floor
Bookforum editor Michael Miller, along with selected editors and publishers from various independent presses, will discuss the changing landscape of the publishing industry and the ongoing rise of independent publishers: why they are leading the way and what this means for the future of the industry as a whole.

The Summer of Third Person

Third person doesn’t come easy to me. I’ve always written, or at least, I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write–my favorite “toys” as a kid aside from my Nintendo were my collection of notebooks where I’d write novel after novel, most of them bad continuations of video game plots. But like lots of idiots and jerks, I didn’t SET OUT TO BE A WRITER OR WHATEVER until after I finished Cather in the Rye in high school and thought, shit yeah, I want to do what this Salinger dude did right here. So I saved up money from my job in the mall at KB Toys and I spent a week that summer at Susquehanna’s Writers Camp where I met Tom Bailey and Gary Fincke and that pretty much put me on the path that led to SU and then Pitt and then teaching. And in those early years, I mostly wrote first person stories. Pieces that aped whatever writers I was biggest on at the time, be it Ray Carver or Richard Yates or Bobbie Ann Mason or DJ Pancake or whoever.

In grad school, I attempted a third person novel during the summer between my first and second years. This was back in 2008 I guess, and I’ve referred to it a few times on this blog, and it’s pretty much the most terrible thing anyone has ever written ever. If I ever get too cocky–which is frequent because I have a monster ego–I open that file on my computer and am reduced to protoplasm by just how bad practically every piece of it is. Cathy Day will now tell you otherwise (and I love her for that), but at the time, when she was reading what was most likely the 85th draft of that beast of a book a few weeks before my second year of grad school came to a close, she suggested that I just start fresh and write something closer to my own experience, closer to the kind of ludicrous first person voice I was then using on overindulgent facebook photo albums.

So I followed her advice and for the next two years worked on Last Call in the City of Bridges, formerly The Collected Works of the Digital Narcissist, formerly The Digital Graveyard, a first person novel. So that’s done. And it got me an agent, the super smart Jenni Ferarri-Adler, and it’s pretty obvious to me that Last Call is the wellspring from which everything good in my life has emerged from if that makes any kind of sense at all.

At this point in my life, my development I guess, I feel like I can handle first person, or at least a very specific breed of first-person fairly well. I understand how it works and how to manipulate it. But during the revision process of the novel–pretty much the entirety of 2010 and a few months immediately before and afterward–I really wanted to spend some time trying to master third person, to add another tool to my writerly toolbelt. I attempted this through short stories.

Here, here, here, here, and here. These are the most successful ones though there is still a ton of room for improvement–like there always is. But I really wanted to use short stories during this period as a time to develop a third person voice with the idea in the back of my mind that once Last Call in the City of Bridges was truly finished and sent off to publishers, I could begin a third person novel.

Finally, that time is here. And I’m really happy to say that I am in a new novel, that I’m past the 50 page mark–I’m superstitious about novels and won’t even admit I’m doing one until it’s past that mark, otherwise I’m afraid I’ll jinx the whole thing. And it’s in third person! That’s not to say that everything’s great. I’m pretty good at keeping to a schedule where I write every day 9-12 or so and then edit in the afternoons, and often there are times when I’ll reread what I’ve written and just feel like every paragraph, every description, every sentence, every word is dead, dead, dead. But then there are times when I feel like I’m onto something, when I sense that flicker of a heartbeat that this book, this thing is growing with strength even though I’ve abandoned a mode of writing–first person again–that I feel so utterly comfortable with.

Recently, I came to a decision that for the rest of the summer–and maybe even awhile afterward–I’m only going to read third person novels. I’ve just finished Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply and I’m planning on Roth’s Sabbath’s Theater and then Egan’s A Visit From the Good Squad next (I know it’s not all third but I really want to read it). There are some collections I’ve agreed to read this summer for review purposes, and I’ll do those too, cheat a bit I guess. But this all kind of goes back to being superstitious about novels. I don’t want to read any first person while I’m in this book. I don’t want to disrupt the third person sensibility in my head that for me is so difficult to cultivate and maintain. But what I’m really curious about is if anyone else does weird crap like this? Do you ever avoid books that are totally unlike what you’re working on right that minute? Or are most writers the opposite, are you trying to get out of your own head/world when you’re reading? Secondly, third person novels! Recommend that shit to me. I always keep a big reading list on my computer but a lot of that is currently null-and-void thanks to the temporary first person/second person/short story ban. Tell me what I need, damn it!

Writing Routines

One question I was surprised so many students had for me this semester was how exactly I begin writing in the morning. We talked a bit about getting on a writing routine during workshops, but I knew how hard this was to do, especially in college when there’s so much going around you at any given minute and you’re so busy anyway. I didn’t have many good answers for them. “I don’t know,” I’d say. “I get up, and then I write. That’s pretty much it.” And I know that’s a luxury afforded to me by working at a university, but I don’t think that’s what they were getting after. I think they wanted a routine.

I’ve been thinking about this more and more now that the semester’s over, and I remembered being consumed by similar questions when I was an undergrad. I thought if I could just nail the right writing routine all my prose would shine. Andre Dubus III visited Susquehanna one time and said he read a poem, or a few pages from a short story, before he sat down to write. So I tried that for awhile back in college. I’d bring Among the Missing or the Collected Stories of Richard Yates or any of the Carver collections and read a few pages, make some notes, and then get started. But that never worked for me because I’d inevitably end up reading the rest of the story.

These days, my routine is far simpler. I wake up, I make coffee, I check e-mail, I drink coffee. When I’m a third of the way through the first cup, I begin. But actually, now that I think about it, there are two videos I watch before I really get going. It’s kind of interesting to me that I would never read a poem or short story now like Dubus does (I find it’s too distracting and influences my own prose too much), but I have no problem watching YouTube. I wonder if other writers do this, especially ones around my own age.

This video. THIS VIDEO! If I could get all my writing to feel like this I’d be set for life. It has this eerie quality. A sadness to it. From the music. But also there’s this nostalgia, the hyper cliches of American children. Then the robot at the end gives it this bizarre humor followed by the apocalyptic mushroom cloud. And of course, the Japanese announcer. So you can’t really get at the true meaning, you can only scratch at it. No crying until the end. Guaranteed masterpiece. I love this video. I love everything about this video. It mostly inspired this story I wrote up at Dark Sky.  And I still watch this video before I write, still remind myself that this is the tone I’m going after: the tone of a 1980’s Japanese Nintendo commercial. I can live with that.

Then there’s this:

This one immediately brings me back to childhood, to endless potential, to singing this song in the shower. Watching it now, there’s such an amazing mix of iconic American imagery–the constitution, Mount Rushmore, Lincoln, the Twin Towers–juxtaposed with utter nonsense–Hulk Hogan doing air guitar in front of the Statue of Liberty. Sometimes I watch this one, because if I can just hit that perfect note of sincerity mixed with an oh I was just kidding please don’t take this seriously attitude, I’d be set. Plus, the song just pumps me the fuck up.

So to sum up, Earthbound Zero and Hulk motherfucking Hogan. You’re welcome, reality.

Summer Reading List

A few days ago on HTML Giant, Christopher Higgs posted his summer reading list and asked readers to do the same in the comments section.  I’ve been constructing elaborate summer reading lists for awhile now. Check out this stack that I (mostly) devoured over a three week period last summer.

But a curious thing happened when fall rolled around: I didn’t delete the reading list file on my hard drive. I just kept adding to it and adding to it, updating with way more titles than I could consume in any given month. And now, with a new summer upon us, I have a list that has ballooned to 33 separate entries. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a huge problem, but reviewing has taken a big chunk out of my reading for pleasure time. Oh, and this doesn’t even include all the graphic novels I’ve saved up for the summer (I have a different file for those with only 18 entries).

Prose

Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
God Jr. by Dennis Cooper
After the Workshop by John McNally
Samuel Johnson Is Indignant by Lydia Davis
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
Something else by Jay McInerney (not Bright Lights, Big City)
The Half-Known World by Robert Boswell
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
Something else by Joe Meno (not The Great Perhaps)
Dalva or Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Netherland by Joseph O’Neill
Emperor of the Air by Ethan Canin
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Morre
The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter
Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell
Something by Paul Auster
The Terrible Girls by Rebecca Brown
This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell
We’re Getting On by James Kaelan
End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley
Solar by Ian McEwan
Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin
Stories II by Scott McLanahan
American Subversive by David Goodwillie

Comics

The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman
RASL vol. 1 by Jeff Smith
Young Avengers vol. 2 by Allen Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung
Asterios Polyp by David Mazzucchelli
Omega the Unknown by Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple
The Flash book 1 Blood Will Run by Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins and Ethan Van Sciver
Fantastic Four vol. 1 by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo
Daredevil vol. 1 Ultimate Collection by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack and Alex Maleev
Daredevil Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Black Summer by Warren Ellis and Juan Jose Ryp
Batman Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
New X-Men vol. 1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely and Ethan Van Sciver and Leinil Francis Yu
Global Frequency vol. 1 Planet Ablaze by Warren Ellis
Marvel 1602 Premiere HC by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Superman/Batman vol. 1 Public Enemies by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness
Wolverine: Enemy of the State by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and and Kaare Andrews
The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J. M. Ken Niimura

Obviously, this list is way too ambitious for any human to complete in a single season. But I’ll take a crack at it. I imagine that most of the graphic novels will fall by the wayside as I already read three or four comics a week each Wednesday. However, if you think I’m missing something absolutely crucial, please let me know. And feel free to post your own lists in the comments sections.

An Online Panel on Literary Journals (Part 1 of 3): Huh? What? Stop.

I just returned home from Denver and AWP late last night. I’m still collecting my thoughts and trying to wrap my mind around the event, and I’m not sure if I’ll make a proper post. In case I do, I don’t want to spoil the good material now. In case I don’t, highlights include: drinking with Kirk Nessett and his dog, meeting Justin Taylor and Roxane Gay, meeting two separate people who actually referenced entries on this blog, an awesome poetry reading in honor of Black Warrior Review, and great readings and panels all around.

Aside from that, this post will have nothing to do with AWP. Instead, I’m going to do my own online panel. So if you missed the shenanigans in Denver, dear readers, worry not. For awhile now, I’ve wanted to say something about literary journals. Not THE STATE OF THE LITERARY JOURNAL (I’ve already done that), but how one goes about submitting, choosing where to submit, publishing, and all the other difficulties that come with lit mags. Obviously, with only three journal pubs under my belt, I am no expert. So I’ve enlisted the help of two University of Pittsburgh MFA alumnus, Robert Yune and Adam Reger. Between the three of us, we’ve  published in different enough places (and have different enough methods) to be of use to the general reader/aspiring writer. Robert will be guest blogging the next entry later in the week, and Adam will follow after that. But for now, you’re stuck with this guy (I promise, this won’t take long).

I used to be the Fiction Editor of Hot Metal Bridge, and it was always very apparent to me when a submitter had never read our journal in their life. Our publishing tastes were quite eclectic at HMB, and we had no problem running flash fiction from an emerging writer about an obscure Tick henchman alongside a novel excerpt from the wonderful Dan Chaon. That being said, we still wanted fiction. Sometimes I received poetry. Sometimes I received scripts. The point is to read the journal you’re submitting to. And that doesn’t just mean figuring out what genres are allowed. HMB always published a wide variety of genres but not all journals are like that. You wouldn’t send the same piece to Ploughshares that you’d send to Electric Literature. One specializes in realistic fiction, and one clearly does not. Get a taste for what the journal you’re submitting to publishes. Do that and you’re already a leg up.

Ok. Ok. I hear you. Everybody knows that. Fine, assholes. What about Duotrope? I’ve been using Duotrope for about four years (I began submitting to the Colorado Review when I should have been submitting to Nowhere), and it’s a fantastic resource for any writer serious about submitting. It tracks all your submissions so you never get confused about when or where you’ve sent stuff out. That’s the part most people know. But what it’s even better for is finding journals. It has entries for every journal you can think of along with acceptance/rejection rates from the Duotrope community. Also, there’s fantastic statistics for ever journal. For example, under Weave, it says that people who submitted there also sent to Caketrain and PANK among others. It also says that people who successfully published in Weave, also published in Night Train and The Collagist. This is invaluable for many reasons.

First off, this gives you a good idea of what other journals to look at. Let’s say you love Flatmancrooked but don’t know where else to submit. Cruise on over to their Duotrope listing and see where else people who’ve submitted there have sent to. Then pick up some of those magazines. Similarly, these listings give you an idea about your current foothold in the literary world. If you can’t get into One Story no matter how many times you’ve tried, why not pick a journal a successful writer published in before they landed One Story? This, my friends, is called coming down the totem pole.

Speaking of totem poles, I know Robert and Adam are going to discuss their methods, so let me get mine out of the way. When I complete a story, I sit on it for awhile, maybe a month, then submit to 8-10 journals. These are usually reaches, but I’ll send some to places I think I have a solid chance with (but to be brutally honest, in the world of lit journals, they’re all reaches).  If the story is rejected 10 times, I give it 10 more chances. After 20 rejections, it’s retired. I’m going to go full disclosure with my stats now, so brace yourself. Right this second, I have 30 submissions floating out there somewhere in the ether. The earliest was sent July 16, 2009; I sent the latest yesterday morning. You have to be a machine when it comes to submitting. You have to be relentless. And you cannot take rejection personally. Alongside those 30 “pending responses” are 3 acceptances and a staggering 147 rejections. That means my acceptance ratio is 2.5%.

2.5%!!!!

Is there anything more depressing than 2.5%? Yes. Yes there is. Every time I sign onto Duotrope I’m greeted with this message: “Congratulations! Your overall acceptance ratio is higher than the average for users who have submitted to the same markets.”

HOLY SHIT! That means I’m winning. That means getting rejected 97.5% of the time is seen as some type of victory to Duotrope. These are the odds we’re up against, and it’s crucial you’re absolutely honest with yourself before you begin this process. Is your work ready for publication? Does it meet the quality of your desired publications? But most importantly, can you handle the rejection? Because like death and taxes, that’s one thing certain for every writer: rejection, a shit ton of it, 97.5% to be exact.

Salvatore Pane’s Guide to AWP

Believe it or not, AWP is less than two months away. Hosted in Denver from April 7th through the 10th, this year’s conference promises to have its share of swoon-inducing moments for the literary inclined (seriously, George Saungers and Etgar Keret are reading at the same event. THE SAME EVENT). But you should take it from me, a past AWP attendee, and really try to not waste your time at the conference if it’s your virgin trial. With that in mind, I present to you my own personal guide on the 2010 AWP Conference.

1. AWP Is Not (even though it kind of is) a Party

This was my experience at AWP last year. I drove eight hours from Pittsburgh to Chicago in a car with three lovable lunatics. I arrived. I marveled at so many people interested in literature gathered together in one place. Then I proceeded to drink for 72 hours. Sure, I saw Don Lee and Dan Chaon in a bar. And Pitt prof Irina Reyn introduced a few of my friends to one of the friendly people over at BOMB who eventually got me my book reviewing (non-paying) gig. I also had the utmost pleasure of seeing Charles Baxter and Stuart Dybek read back-to-back.

But for the most part I partied. I didn’t go out of my way to network, and for the most part, I drank with the three friends I drove with or old pals from college who I hadn’t seen in a while. Sometimes I even drank with other Pitt MFAers who I see on a regular basis. And on the final night, I completely avoided AWP and drank my way through Rigleyville. The bottom line here is that AWP is a social event. There’s a lot of coffee and booze. And a lot of writers, agents and editors to meet. You should enjoy yourself. You should have a good time. But don’t let AWP turn into an all-out vacation, a mistake I made in Chicago. If you want to take a trip with your buddies, take it. If you want to meet some people who could point you in the right path career-wise, then get a little more serious.

Don't spend the entire conference boozin' with this guy miles away from the convention.

2. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

Since I’d never been to AWP before last year, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t realize there would be so many panels, and I had no idea the conference was frequented by so many writers, editors and agents. And the literary journals! So many literary journals. Tables and tables of them for as far as the eye could see.

So I dabbled without accomplishing much of anything at all.  I saw a panel on applying to fellowships which has been invaluable this last year and I got that BOMB reviewer job while purchasing a ton of lit mags. It’s clear now that I could have done a lot more in 72 hours had I simply arrived with a plan. That will not be the case in Denver. I’ve already decided which panels to attend and what my two major goals are. A) Find more outlets for book reviews, and B) An agent approached me about my work last week, so I guess it’s time to begin that type of search. Figure out why you’re going to AWP and accomplish you goals. That may seem like obvious advice, but it’ll feel a lot less obvious when you arrive and are distracted by ten-million things that  seem equally interesting all happening at the exact same time.

3. General Pointers

A couple minor, yet helpful, points. Make sure you head into the book fair on the last day of the conference. There will be a ton of lit mags there and the staffs probably don’t want to pay to ship unsold issues back to wherever it is they came from. That means journals will sold with a heavy, heavy discount. Be on the lookout for major deals. I picked up nearly 20 different magazines for $25 last year on the final day.

Don’t feel like you have to stay at the same hotel where the conference is happening. The AWP hotel is going to be utter madness and pretty expensive. Shoot for one even two blocks away and you’ll have already saved major money before you even arrive.

Head to the conference hotel bar at night. As I learned last year, the major parties are behind closed doors within the hotel itself, but you’ll find a lot of interesting people in the main hotel bar if you wander in after ten. That’s where I met Dan Chaon, Don Lee and the BOMB editor last year.

Do not go to the nightly AWP Dance Party. It's a nexus to hell.

4. OHMIGAWD THE PANELS!

Below, I’ve assembled all the panels I’ve seriously considered attending this year along with commentary in red (Unfortunately: I’ll only be at AWP Wednesday through Saturday morning this year so you’re on your own concerning the last day). Read at your own discretion.

THURSDAY

9-10:15am

Room 111
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R109. Play Ball!: The Language of Sports. (Michael Garriga, William Giraldi, Michael Griffith, Cathy Day, Andrew Ervin) Our national pastimes have the unique ability to transcend lines that normally close off other avenues: race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Jackie Robinson, Nadia Comaneci, Muhammed Ali, Tonya Harding, and Michael Vick have all been touchstones for greater discussions on our society, bringing together speakers and opinions from different demographics. This panel examines the use of sports in fiction, and how it can be utilized for a larger purpose while speaking a common language.

Cathy Day has been a mentor to me for the last three years. Check out her panel!

Room 108
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R106. Reading, Writing, and Teaching the Literary Fantastic. (Sarah Stone, Joan Silber, Melissa Pritchard, Doug Dorst, Sylvia Brownrigg) We’ll explore how fabulous or numinous fiction can be meaningful and believable: from completely alternate worlds to literary ghost stories to essentially realist stories that depict characters’ beliefs about the supernatural. We’ll consider great examples and describe ways for writers and their students to unlock their own inventions and move beyond genre cliches. The panel will include handouts with reading lists and writing exercises.

Sounds pretty interesting for those of us immersed in pedagogy and wackiness.

Room 203
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R113. Grants, Proposals, and Queries: How to Write about your Writing. (H.M. Bouwman, Swati Avasthi, J.C. Hallman, Matt Rasmussen) Writers spend a lot of time on the craft of writing but sometimes not enough on the craft of presentation. Presenting what you write about in short forms is a special skill set that you can develop and hone. This panel (composed of writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) will discuss how to summarize your work and make it stand out in this tight economy by incorporating a sense of voice and purpose into grant applications, book proposals, and queries.

Very interested in this as it’s always seemed so odd to me that writers spend years and years preparing themselves for a novel, memoir, or poetry collection but virtually no time working on the letter that could get them in the door.

Room 303
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R118. The In Sound from Way Out: Submission to Publication. (M. Bartley Seigel, Margaret Bashaar, Aaron Burch, James Grinwis, Jennifer Pieroni, Roxane Gay) Editors from five eclectic little magazines—Bateau, Hobart, PANK, Quick Fiction, and Weave—unpack their editorial projects and processes, quirks and anomalies, across genres, and invite questions to initiate dialogue among panel and audience members.

Great advice here for writers just starting out on the journal submission route. There’s a lot of these types of panels at AWP, but this one has Jennifer Pieroni, who picked one of my pieces for Quick Fiction, and Weave Editor Maragaret Bashaar from Typewriter Girls, a cool group that does literary events around Pittsburgh.

12:00-1:15pm

Room 110
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R153. Going Long: The Long Short Story. (Jill Meyers, Josh Weil, Suzanne Rivecca, Karen Brown, Christie Hodgen) The long short story is a literary form revered but not often published. It offers a generous scope and a larger world for readers; for writers, an opportunity to get messy. Four skillful practitioners of the form gather to read from their works and to discuss the form’s challenges and rewards. What happens when you write beyond the ending?

I’ve been working on a novella in the early stages for a little over a month now. Starting to wonder about what options I’ll have in terms of sending it out into the world. Hope this will address that very issue.

Room 203
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R156. A Pen Behind Your Ear: Gathering, Editing, Publishing, Marketing, and Promoting an Anthology. (Andrea Hollander Budy, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kurt Brown, Camille Dungy, Michael Martone) Five editors of recent anthologies will discuss all aspects of creating an anthology, including making selections, locating and working with a publisher, obtaining permissions to reprint previously published material, working with designers, and attracting readers. As the panelists are also writers themselves, they will also discuss the pleasures and challenges of editing an anthology while trying to maintain their writing lives.

Two things: 1) Who doesn’t want to edit an anthology? and 2) MICHAEL MARTONE!

Rooms 401, 402
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R163. What’s Your Platform? What Agents & Editors Are Looking For in Writers. (Christina Katz, Jane Friedman, Robin Mizell, David W. Sanders, Sage Cohen) Yes, the quality of your writing still matters. But becoming visible and influential is more crucial to landing a book deal than ever, according to agents and editors in every facet of the publishing industry. Aspiring authors need to develop a platform in order to get noticed. Fortunately for emerging writers in all genres, there are more affordable, accessible tools available for platform-development and building, which make this important responsibility a pleasure and not a chore.

This is one of the worst hours of AWP because it’s so jam-packed with stuff. Any of these three panels sound amazing, yet there’s nothing I’m super pumped about at the 10 o’ clock hour. Such overwhelming sadness!

1:30-2:45pm

Room 112
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R177. Following the Paths to Publication: First Books and What Happens Next. (Dan Wickett, Seth Harwood, Anis Shivani, Shawna Yang Ryan, Lowell Mick White) The first book is an important, joyous event in the life of any writer. Yet the process of achieving the first book is rapidly changing, largely through accelerated technologies and increasingly fractured demographics. How can writers successfully react to these changes? What constitutes ultimate success? On this panel, five debut authors will discuss their varied paths to publication, the impact the book has had on their lives, and the larger implications of change in publishing practices.

As you may, or may not, know: I’ve been working on this novel. I have a second draft, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time to start thinking about the next step.

Rooms 401, 402
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R186. Ecotone 5th Anniversary Reading. (Ben George, Robert Wrigley, Benjamin Percy, Kathryn Miles, Cary Holladay, Reg Saner) Ecotone, the award-winning semiannual magazine published at UNC Wilmington, celebrates its 5th anniversary in 2010. In its short life, the magazine has already had its work reprinted in several annuals of the Best American series and in the Pushcart Press anthology, among others. Ecotone seeks to bring together the literary and the scientific, the personal and the biological, the urban and the rural. Please join us for a reading by six of our outstanding and widely acclaimed contributors.

BENJAMIN PERCY! I saw this guy read at Gist Street back in 2007/2008, and he was ridiculous. His voice is just like the guy who does movie trailers. Also, he made fun of my current roommate for drinking a highball I ordered him. Recommended. Oh, and Ecotone is a pretty sweet journal as well.

3-4:15pm

Room 205
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R203. That’s Private!—Using Personal Details About Others’ Lives in Fiction. (Steven Schwartz, Antonya Nelson, Ann Cummins, Sylvia Brownrigg) The measure of nonfiction is how closely one adheres to the truth; the measure of fiction is how much one changes it. But what happens when a writer finds it necessary to include the exact details of someone else’s life? The panel’s four writers will chart their relationships to the private and public. In a genre that assumes transformation, when, why, and how do writers disguise the truth, and when does the unaltered truth make good fiction?

Not sold on this one, but it could turn out to be really interesting, especially if you’re the type of writer that smashes together fact and fiction.

Room 111
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R200. Just Passing Through: The Pros and Cons of the Visiting Professor Position. (David Ebenbach, Jerry Harp, Kevin Haworth, Stephanie Reents, Brandi Reissenweber, David Wright) Tenure-track jobs in Creative Writing are always in short supply. In our current climate many of us are turning instead to visiting professorships, sometimes moving from one visiting position to the next. What are the advantages of such positions? How can you use them to help your writing and your employment prospects? What are the downsides? The panelists, current or former visiting professors, offer their experiences and advice on how to navigate the world of the visiting professorship.

This could (hopefully) be my future. Better gain some knowledge.

4:30-5:45 p.m.

Room 107

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

R219. Literary Laughter: Humor in Fiction Writing. (Teresa Milbrodt, Stephen Powers, E. C. Jarvis, Michael Czyzniejewski) This panel examines humor in our fiction writing and the work of other writers we admire: how we elicit laughter by delving into surreal or bizarre worlds, creating intelligent disjunctures in conversation, or finding moments for literary slapstick. While we explore the function of the comic in these writings, we also ask if humor writing can be taught, or if it is inherent in one’s style or particular way of looking at the world.

Very interested in humor in literary fiction and also whether or not this is a specific aspect of writing that is impossible to teach. Don’t know the names of the panelists but sounds intriguing enough.

8:30-10:00 p.m.

Centennial Ballroom
Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor

R237. Keynote Address by Michael Chabon, Sponsored by the University of Colorado, Denver. . AWP’s 2010 Keynote Address by Michael Chabon.

Pulitzer winner! Former Pitt grad! Friend of Chuck Kinder! You better believe I’m going to this one.

FRIDAY

9-10:15am
Room 203
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F112. University of Arizona MFA Alumni Reading. (Aurelie Sheehan, Robert Boswell, Gregory Martin, Kristi Maxwell, Richard Siken, Padma Viswanathan) The University of Arizona MFA Program celebrates its 35th year with an alumni reading featuring work of fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry. Come hear some of the many exceptional and groundbreaking authors who spent their earliest days reading, writing, and pondering craft in Tucson, a literary oasis in the Sonoran Desert.

I am a huge fan of Robert Boswell. “The Darkness of Love” is one of the very first short stories I fell in love with, and two of his novels, Crooked Hearts and Century’s Son, are among my absolute favorites. If you’re a Boswell virgin, then attend this. If you know him, you’re already going.

Rooms 401, 402
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F119. The Place of Place: Crafting Place as Character in Fiction. (Sejal Shah, Margaret Lazarus Dean, Geeta Kothari, Michael Byers, Jesmyn Ward) It’s a commonplace notion that setting can be so central to fiction that the landscape can become a character—even a central character. But how, in craft terms, does it come to pass that place can inhabit fiction as much as fiction inhabits place? Five fiction writers will discuss their approaches to writing place—both urban and rural—in their works, drawing on settings as diverse as Bombay, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Upstate New York, Cape Canaveral, Washington State, and the American Midwest.

I’ve always been very drawn to setting in fiction and have thought about putting together a panel like this myself. Also, it’s got Geeta Kothari and Michael Byers, both Pitt people.

10:30-11:45 a.m.

Room 110
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F129. The MFA in Academia. (Matt Tullis, Joe Oestreich, Kyle Minor, Emma Bolden, Miroslav Penkov) This panel focuses on first-year experiences of MFA-degree holders holding tenure-track (or comparable) jobs in academia, including finding a job, defending the MFA as schools look for PhDs and generalists, and defending your scholarship in the face of colleagues who may not see it as serious work. It will look at how these attitudes differ greatly from institution to institution, how to move from a visiting to a tenure-track position, and how to carve out writing time amidst a heavy teaching load.

This is something I take pretty seriously: the idea that the “work” of an MFA degree holder is just as valid (if not more so) than the “work” of a PhD graduate. I have a LOT more to say on this subject, but will avoid it for now. Just be aware that this panel exists and deserves serious attention.

Room 111
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F130. Summer Writing Conferences: What they Offer, How to Choose the Best One for You. (James Jordan, Rob Spillman, Wyatt Prunty, Claudia Emerson, Rebecca McClanahan, David Lynn) The director/founders and writer-teachers of the Tin House Writers’ Conference, The Kenyon Review Writers’ Conference, and The Sewanee Writers’ Conference discuss their workshops, faculty, and culture, informing poets and writers about their communities and educational and networking opportunities, including the application process, craft and guest lectures, workshops, selecting a workshop leader, and scholarships. The panel is moderated by a recent participant of these conferences.

I need to know more about summer conferences. A couple people suggested I attend a few this summer, but Jesus H. Christ are they expensive. I’m planning on attending something by Summer 2011, but going mere weeks after finishing graduate school is just not fiscally responsible for me. Hopefully this panel will help me understand more about the whole topic.

Room 303

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F138. The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, & Writers in the Field. (Abby Beckel, Randall Brown, Kim Chinquee, Sherrie Flick, Robert Shapard, Lex Williford) Join five of the twenty-five contributors to this ground-breaking anthology for a roundtable discussion on the history, cross-cultural influences, reemergence, and current practices in the field of flash. These authors also will offer exercises and read examples of stories that will be of use and interest to anyone who writes, teaches, edits, or just generally enjoys the short short form.

Sherrie Flick runs the best reading series I’ve ever been to: Gist Street. And also, I’m a huge fan of flash fiction, and Rose Metal was way ahead of the curve on this shit. This one looks like a highlight, folks.

12-1:15pm

Room 108

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F150. Indie Mags: Publishing Outside of MFA Programs and Other Institutional Support. (J.W. Wang, Aaron Burch, Dave Clapper, Mike Young, Jennifer Flescher, Blake Butler) Independent journals provide an alternative to the established journals affiliated with universities and creative writing programs, and they frequently serve as pioneers in the world of literary publishing. Join editors from Tuesday; An Art Project, Hobart, NOÖ Journal, Juked, Lamination Colony and SmokeLong Quarterly for a roundtable discussion about the workings of independently-published literary journals, what it takes to keep them going, and what these journals mean to potential contributors.

Having served as Editor-in-Chief of an online literary mag with virtually ZERO support from the institution that was supposed to be backing it, this is a definite pet interest of mine, especially in the wake of all the great new online journals that have sprung up seemingly overnight.

Room 110
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F152. An Insurgent Surging: The Case for the Novella Now. (Josh Weil, Michael Knight, Tom Franklin, Cynthia Reeves) This panel will examine the novella as a renegade art form whose time has come. We will discuss the underappreciated rewards the form offers writers, readers, teachers, and publishers. But the focus will be on the craft of writing novellas—challenges, rewards, and the unique approaches that the form—all directed towards answering this question: why is right now the right time to refocus attention on the novella?

*See thoughts above the novella above. Also, Tom Franklin is kind of a badass. I saw him give a personal reading at Tom Bailey’s house a few years back. His collection Poachers is very good.

Rooms 401, 402
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F164. The Future of Book Publishing: How Authors Should Navigate the New Market. (Mary Gannon, Dennis Loy Johnson, Jeffrey Shots, Michael Reynolds, Lee Montgomery, Julie Barer) Editors and agents will discuss the changes that have occurred in the practices and policies of literary publishing—from acquiring books, producing them in all of their incarnations, and marketing them. They will also offer timely advice on how authors should best navigate the changing industry and the new market.

*See thoughts about becoming more professional above.

Granite Room
Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor

F168. Pen, Screen, Action: Digital Storytelling in the Writing Classroom. (Shannon Lakanen, Daniel Weinshenker, Christina Fisanick, Kayann Short) This panel explores the ways writers take creative writing from the page to the screen by incorporating still images, voice over narration, video footage, soundtrack, and nonlinear editing to create digital poetic, narrative, and reflective texts. Panelists will share their experiences teaching digital storytelling in community and college workshops, examples of the work produced in these forums, and the challenges and advantages this multimodal form offers writers and artists.

Shit! I love incorporating digital storytelling into my work and produce a major boner when thinking about using it in the classroom. This one may demand my attention.

1:30-2:45pm

Centennial Ballroom
Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor

F189. The Southern Review 75th Anniversary Reading. (Jeanne Leiby, David Kirby, Sydney Lea, Steve Almond, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Beth Ann Fennelly) Founded in 1935 by Robert Penn Warren at Louisiana State University, the Southern Review celebrates seventy-five years of publishing the best contemporary fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction by the world’s most accomplished writers.

The Southern Review. Steve Almond. I hope he’s selling his independent chapbook.

3:00 p.m.-4:15 p.m.

Room 108

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F196. From MFA Thesis to First Novel—Five Writers Share Their Stories. (Sheila O’Connor, Geoff Herbach, Nami Mun, Valerie Laken, Patti Frazee, Margaret Lazarus Dean) Is the MFA thesis an end or a beginning? How do we know if our thesis project is a viable book or an early draft that still requires radical revision? For books that need revision, how do writers practice the necessary discipline novels require over the long haul? How do emerging writers secure agents and publishers for that first book? Focusing on the challenges and triumphs of seeing theses projects into print, five first- time novelists will share their diverse writing and publishing experiences.

I’m not even going to bother discussing why I so desperately want to attend this one.

Room 109

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F197. What We Hate: Editorial Dos and Don’ts. (H. Emerson Blake, Katie Dublinski, Andrew Leland, Denise Oswald, Daniel Slager, Rob Spillman) You won’t find this in the FAQ. Get it straight from the source. Six distinguished magazine and book editors speak candidly about what they love and loathe and everything in between. What do editors really want from writers? What do they absolutely not want? If you’re positively sure you know the answers to these questions, then don’t come to this panel featuring editors from The Believer, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, Orion, Soft Skull Press, and Tin House.

I’ll probably end up picking the MFA Thesis to First Novel panel, but this one will probably be really great for writers just beginning to prep their work for submission.

4:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m.

Room 203
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F222. Plot as Ritual, Not Representation. (Debra Monroe, Antonya Nelson, John Dufresne, Lynne Barrett) A reader approaches a story expecting what Iris Murdoch called the consolations of form: concordance, development, characters who matter, a past which applies, and an ending which changes our perspective on the beginning and middle. Plot is not an imitation of life’s details as much as an antidote to the random way we experience life’s details. The writer can find tension between details and use it to forge a plot that’s resonant and yet startlingly new. Plot generates, not stifles, a story’s content.

Antonya Nelson? ANTONYA NELSON! If I can see both her and her husband (the aforementioned Boswell), my life will be complete.

Room 304

Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F228. This Story Based on Actual Events. (Jotham Burrello, Randall Albers, Maggie Kast, Sharon Solwitz) At the end of the movie, Europa, Europa, color gives way to documentary black and white, and it hits us: this fiction is based on reality. Does this matter? Does reality affect the reader’s belief in the story? Every fiction creates what Umberto Eco calls its small world, the part of reality needed for its telling. How do fact and fiction mesh in stories with an element of real time or place? Four writers of reality-based fiction discuss this interaction in their works and the works of others.

I kind of just picked this one because I like the movie Europa, Europa. Dark horse panel!

Rooms 401, 402
Colorado Convention Center, Street Level

F229. Navigating Chaotic Changes in Literary Magazine Publishing. (Melanie Moore, Maribeth Batcha, Carolyn Kuebler, William Pierce, Stephanie G’Schwind) Join publishers and editors from American Short Fiction, One Story, AGNI, Colorado Review, and the New England Review for a discussion of the opportunities and challenges in the current “publishing crisis.” As more readers come to expect free content on the internet, how can literary publishers continue to pay writers, sustain their operations, and build their audiences? As paradigms shift, learn how these magazines are adapting their business models and their magazines to succeed.

That is one helluva lineup of journal editors. THIS is the big lit journal panel of the conference. If you go to one, make it this one.

8:30-10:00pm

Centennial Ballroom
Hyatt Regency Denver, 3rd Floor

F234. A Reading by George Saunders & Etgar Keret, Sponsored by Wilkes University Low Residency MA/MFA Program in Creative Writing in association with Blue Flower Arts. A Reading by George Saunders & Etgar Keret.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!?!?!?! Saunders!!!! Keret!!!! AT THE SAME EVENT! I can’t even take this I’m so fucking happy. I didn’t think anything would top the Charles Baxter/Stuart Dybek double-punch from last year, and now they call up George Saunders! Well-played, AWP, well-played indeed.