The Best of Indie AWP: Saturday Edition

To help you get the most out of your AWP conference, we’ve compiled a daily (and nightly) guide for the best readings, panels, and parties from indie presses and lit mags.


Handling Words: Books Arts and the Creative Process

9–10:15am in Room 604
“From Milton to Woolf, literary history abounds with writers who divided their time between desk and print shop. Four contemporary writers, who are also book artists and fine press publishers, reflect upon how their creative process is influenced by the alteration between these roles. Can tactile experiences with printing and binding affect writers’ relationship to language? When the act of writing is made physical through the book arts, how is a writer’s perception of his/her work also changed?”

So You Want to Change the World? Literary Editors on Writing with a Social Purpose

9–10:15am in Rooms 613/614
“Are you interested in crafting literature that speaks to the world’s larger social issues? Do you know where to publish and what editors are looking for? Gain insight from five leading literary publications that focus on the social context, from class to environment, feminism to race. The editors of Guernica, Orion, So to Speak, the Straddler, and will share their experiences, insight, and wisdom on writing and publishing with a social purpose.”

Hip Lit: How Innovative Reading Series Are Revamping the Literary Scene

9–10:15am in Rooms 618/619/620
“How can literature hold its own against mass media and pop culture? Reading series that showcase fine work in inventive ways can build dynamic arts communities and help authors promote and popularize their books among diverse new audiences. In this lively panel, curators and hosts of wildly popular series such as Literary Death Match, The Rumpus, Page Meets Stage, and Rain Taxi discuss how to deploy ingenious PR strategies, curate creatively, turn events into hip hangouts, and keep things fresh.”

So You Want to Build a Platform: But What is It & Why Do You Need One? Women Writers & Editors Speak Out

10:30–11:45am in Room 608
“While women’s voices are underrepresented in print publishing, online activism can balance the scales. Cultivating an online presence is not as easy as DIY and shameless self-promotion tales make it look. Creative thinkers, to highlight minority and emerging voices, develop unique online resources to build ever-expanding communities and celebrate accomplishments. Panelists explore empowerment, utility of web-based writing, maintaining professionalism, and ways to keep viewers returning and sharing.”

The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story: A Reading from Prize-Winning Story Collections

10:30–11:45am in Room 304
“Join the winners of three prestigious short story awards, The Iowa Short Fiction Award, the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, as they read selections from their debut collections and discuss publishing via the contest circuit rather than through traditional publishing channels.”

Writing, Rumpus, and Community

10:30–11:45am in Room 305
“Since going live in 2009, the Rumpus has been a place for unknown writers to find an audience and for established writers to find new ones. It redefined the advice column and has become one of the foremost publishers of personal narratives and book reviews online. This panel will discuss the Rumpus’ first five years and its plans for the future.”

We Need to Talk: Editors Discuss How They Communicate with Writers and How Writers Can Improve the Channels of Communication

1:30–2:45pm in Room 3B
“Accepting a piece is the easy part — the hard part is suggesting changes in an effective way. In this panel, four editors will discuss their strategies, old and new, for communicating with writers and translators in order to improve a piece — including the snail-mail editor’s letter, Skype, a volley of track-changes comments, and of course, the long lunch in New York. Specific situations like dramatically expanding or shortening a piece and working with literature in translation will be discussed.”

Celebrating 20 Years of Extraordinary Fiction at Riverhead Books

1:30–2:45pm in Rooms 618/619/620
“Since its founding, Riverhead Books has published the freshest, most memorable and diverse new voices in literary fiction. Riverhead authors have won Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Critics Circle Awards, Story Prizes, and been named to Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35, and the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40, among many other distinctions. Four of Riverhead’s acclaimed writers will read and discuss their work with Riverhead’s director of publicity.”

The Business of Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

3–4:15pm in Rooms 618/619/620
“Leading industry professionals discuss the business of literary publishing today. A legendary independent publisher, a successful literary agent, and an award-winning executive editor talk about the nuts and bolts of the publishing industry. From conception and submission through editing, production, marketing, and beyond, these four will demystify the process from the inside out.”

A Tribute to the Poetry of Raymond Carver

3–4:15pm in Room 302
“Raymond Carver is widely considered a master of the short story form, and yet Carver was also, from the time he began writing in 1957 and until his death in 1988, a poet. Carver’s partner, Tess Gallagher, describes the poems as the spiritual current running through the stories. While this is true, the poems also ask to be reckoned with in their own right. This panel gathers three poets, a poet/eco-critic, and Carver’s biographer in order to praise the poetry of Raymond Carver.”

Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Depression: Troubleshooting the Seven (Deadly?) Sins of the Writing Life

3–4:15pm in Room 303
How do you stay inspired and hopeful without succumbing to envy of your fellow writers’ successes? How, over your career, do you recharge your batteries, deal with rejection, and not be thrown off by early successes? Is ambition a bad thing? How do you deal with disappointment and despair? In this panel, a diverse group of writers working in many genres discusses the perils of these “Seven (Deadly?) Sins of the Writing Life.” Attendees are invited to share issues for the panel to troubleshoot.

Where are We Now?: The State of GLBTQ Small Press Publishing

4:30–5:45am in The Willow Room
“Over the last ten years GLBTQ presses have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared. With the emergence and increasing popularity of online publications and eBooks, the opportunity for marginalized writers/writings has increased exponentially. This begs the question: what is the current state of GLBTQ publishing? This panel, representing four GLBTQ presses, will explore this topic and discuss what kind of writing they are looking for, concluding with audience Q&A.”

Uncreative & Unoriginal: Notes on Conceptual Writing

4:30–5:45am in Room 400
“The poet Kenneth Goldsmith posits conceptual writing as a response to the digitization of language. For Goldsmith, the unparalleled linguistic materiality of our digital age necessitates a different conception of the “poetic.” In contrast to more traditional poetics, conceptual writing de-centers the writing subject with strategies such as collage, excision, and appropriation. This panel asks what conceptual writing might teach us about beauty, originality, and the creative process.”

Collaboration & Emergence: Chapbooks at the Crossroads

4:30–5:45am in Room 607
“Chapbooks are a vital locus of collaboration, a dynamic form where poets, editors, artists, and bookmakers co-produce an object that allows careers to emerge and audiences to expand. A form distinguished by compression, innovation, and local relevance, the chapbook is also a fulcrum in the process of developing the scope of a literary career. Writers and editors from Slapering Hol Press, the small press imprint of the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, explore the potential of this creative nexus.”

Weird Girls (Fabulous Ladies of Fabulist Fiction)

4:30–5:45am in Room 611
“Female writers have been marginalized as have genre writers, so Fabulist female writers are, in essence, writing from the margins of the margins. Four Fabulist writers will share their origin stories and inspirations. They will address the specific rules of writing “weird” and the challenges and/or surprise perks they’ve encountered as risk-takers. They will offer practical advice for writers in any stage of the process who wish to learn more about the Fabulist realm.” (Featuring Marie-Helene Bertino & Amelia Gray)

Small is the New Big: Publishing Story Collections with Independent Presses

4:30–5:45am in Room 301
“Despite the rumors, story collections do sell. The contemporary publishing world is a rich marketplace for fiction writers, with independent presses taking up where the New York houses have left off. This panel explores the benefits of publishing story collections with small presses, the various paths to doing so, the process throughout, and the many opportunities offered for where to go next. Writers publishing with Bellevue, Dzanc, Five Chapters, Press 53, and Starcherone will present.”

AWP After Hours

AWP Mingle with New Directions, NYRB, and Archipelago Books

4–5:30pm at Elliott Bay Book Company
“Join New Directions, New York Review Books, and Archipelago Books for an AWP mingle at Elliott Bay Book Company! Come and chat with us about our exciting upcoming lists over drinks and hors d’oeuvres!”


7–10pm at Left Banks Books Collective
“FREE CRAFT BEER! Readers include: Scott McClanahan, Noah Cicero, Stephen Graham Jones, Heiko Julien, Patrick Wensink, Juliet Escoria, William Boyle, J David Osborne, Jason Rizos, Robert Vaughan, Joseph Riippi, JS Breukelaar, Jeff Jackson, D Foy”

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