Friday, February 21, 2014

Ashland MFA @ AWP Seattle 2014

Ashland MFA faculty members, alumni, and administrators are represented on more than a dozen panels and off-site readings at the AWP Conference in Seattle, Washington February 26-March 1, 2014. Here are the poetry and nonfiction sessions you won't want to miss:

Thursday, February 27
9:00 am to 10:15 am 
R126. What Was Is: The Use of Present Tense in Creative Nonfiction
Room 202, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 2
(Kate Hopper, Hope Edelman, Bonnie Rough, Marybeth Holleman, Ryan Van Meter)
This panel of memoirists and essayists will consider what happens when we write about past events in the present tense. When does present tense provide needed immediacy, and when does it limit an author’s ability to write to the true story? We will explore the benefits, challenges, and drawbacks of using present tense as we craft our lives on the page, and we will discuss how tense affects other craft issues, such as voice, reflection, and structure.

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Sarah Freligh, Book Signing
Stop by Accents Publishing table (AA3) at the AWP bookfair and buy a copy of Sarah Freligh's chapbook "A Brief Natural History of an American Girl" for the low, low price of $5.
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
R209. The I or the Eye: The Narrator's Role in Nonfiction
Room 613/614, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Phillip Lopate, Elyssa East, Robert Root, Lia Purpura, Michael Steinberg)
Be it a personal or lyric essay, memoir, a work of journalism, or criticism, writers of literary nonfiction must decide how to craft their narrators to best suit the subject at hand. Why are some narrators situated center-stage as participants (the I) while others locate themselves more offstage as observers (the Eye)? This panel of writers, teachers, and editors will offer rationales for a range of approaches and suggest strategies to determine how best to present their narrators on the page.

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
R270. Protean Poetics in the 21st Century: Redefining Poetry & Place in a Placeless World of Global Communication
Room 613/614, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Mark Irwin, Susan M. Schultz, Brynn Saito, Paul Hoover, Chad Sweeney)
What are the advantages or disadvantages of writing about a particular place in an age of placeless, electronic communication? How do particular notions of self, place, and image become more mobile, mimicking the medium or electronic manner in which they are conveyed? How has the content and language of poetry changed through the way that we communicate place? Join these five poets for a dynamic discussion and Q/A.

Friday, February 28
9:00 am to 10:15 am
F107. Switching Genres Midstream: Searching for the Right Match
Redwood Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
(Richard Hoffman, Mimi Schwartz, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Renee D'Aoust, Thomas Larson)
Consciously or not, writers will shift from one genre to another in order to make a particular piece of writing work. This panel's five essayists and memoirists will discuss and illustrate how two of their memoirs began as novels, a third memoir started as an essay collection, a linked collection of memoirs began as a poem, and how an essay collection evolved into a memoir. Each will describe how a midstream change in genres became the catalyst for finding the form that best suits the writing.

9:45-10:15 am
Mark Irwin, Book Signing
New Issues Poetry & Prose Table

10:30 am to 11:45 am
F162. Poetry of Wonder and Astonishment
Room 303, Western New England MFA Annex, Level 3
(Chad Sweeney, Sherwin Bitsui, Angie Estes, Sandra Alcosser, Mark Irwin)
One of poetry’s powers is to awaken in us a state of wonder/awe/astonishment, as if in the sudden terrible presence of Rilke's angels, or as Emily Dickinson phrased it, as if the top of your head were taken off. But how is this achieved? How do masters like Levertov, Harjo, Merwin, and Dickinson, as well as newer American poets, approach the craft and vision of wonder? Join this diverse panel of poets for an energetic exploration of wonder and astonishment in American poetry now.

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
F182. The Researcher in the Room: The Ethics of Immersion Writing.
Room 607, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Ana Maria Spagna, Jo Scott-Coe, Joe Mackall, Amanda Webster) 
What are the rules when nonfiction writers immerse in cultures very different from our own? Panelists will discuss their experiences and address thorny questions. How do we frame our intentions with sources, literary audiences, and ourselves? How do we resolve conflicting versions of the truth? Do we ever leave out information to protect privacy or integrity? What consequences stem from our projects? What, in the end, do we owe the people we write about?

F189. River Teeth Anniversary Reading
Room 618/619/620, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Sarah M. Wells, Steven Harvey, Jill Noel Kandel, Jon Kerstetter)
This reading celebrates River Teeth’s fifteen years of publishing the best of creative nonfiction. Four of River Teeth’s nationally recognized writers will read from work originally published in River Teeth. These essays were reprinted in Best American Essays 2013, Best Spiritual Writing 2012, and the Pushcart Prize XXXV.

F191. 45th Year Anniversary Reading: The Ashland Poetry Press
Room LL5, Western New England MFA Annex, Lower Level
(Stephen Haven, Nicholas Samaras, Robin Davidson, Richard Jackson, Catherine Staples)
Ashland Poetry Press (APP) authors with books forthcoming in 2013/2014 will read from their work in celebration of the more than 150 titles published since the 1969 founding of the press. The APP Director will introduce the poets and provide a brief overview of the press's review process and publishing interests, selected poems by older poets, an annual best-manuscript publication prize (500 manuscripts submitted each year), and collections by poets over 40 with no more than one earlier book.

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
F202. From Thesis to Book: The Stretch Run
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
(Mark Neely, Elena Passarello, Marcus Wicker, Celeste Ng, Bonnie Rough)
Most MFA programs require students to produce a “publishable, book-length” thesis. Some theses go straight to publishers, but usually it takes time and hard work before these projects become published books. We’ll talk about how to turn a thesis into a successful book and about our own paths to publication. We’ll also discuss what expectations students and teachers should have for the thesis. Is a publishable manuscript realistic, or should we be thinking about the thesis in different terms?

6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Off-site Event: Plume Reading/ with Anthology Publication.
Tap House Grill, 1506 Sixth Ave. (Between Pike & Pine)
with Jim Daniels, Mark Irwin, Amy King, Jill Rosser, David Rivard, Rosanna Warren, and others.

9:00 pm
Off-site Event: WordFarm and Friends 10-Year Anniversary Confabulation
Hi-Spot Cafe, 1410 34th Ave.
Fast-paced poetry readings from WordFarm poets and friends. Featuring Tania Runyan, Amy McCann, Thom Caraway, Daniel Bowman Jr., Marci Whiteman Johnson, David Wright, Sarah M. Wells, and others.

Saturday, March 1
10:00 am
Bob Root, Book Signing
University of Iowa Press booth, 1901 North Hall of the AWP Bookfair

10:30 am
Mark Irwin, Book Signing
New Issues Poetry & Prose Table

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
S230. Lightening Up the Dark: The Role of Humor in Memoir 
Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
(Mimi Schwartz, Joe Mackall, Phillip Lopate, Suzanne Greenberg, Daniel Stolar) 
Too often we see our lives as simply funny or sad and write in that single mode, limiting the emotional complexity of our narratives. Humor is a powerful tool for changing that—and no need to be Jon Stewart to use it effectively. Our panel of five explores how humor works for them as writers and teachers of memoir and essay. We address how humor deepens perspective, how it seduces readers to our side, and how, by marrying dark material with humor, we create a powerful tension between the two.

S233. Freedom in Translation: Finding Ourselves a New Poetics
Room 3A, Washington State Convention Center, Level 2
(Brad Crenshaw, Gary Young, Stephen Haven, James Brasfield)
Translation re-imagines how language works, revising postmodern poetics that emphasizes conventions linking words to things in the world. Translation insists upon a pluralism of linguistic aims. Panelists working in Asian and Slavic languages will discuss translation, weigh the virtue of literal paraphrase against the value of ambiguity, measure the advantage of cognitive knowledge against the profit gained by an escape from conventional meaning, and exchange control for delight in literary play.

S240. Planning for Surprise: Teaching the Unexpected in Personal Narrative
Room 606, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6
(Patrick Madden, Michael Steinberg, Renee D'Aoust, Thomas Larson, Desirae Matherly)
This panel focuses on the vital role that surprise, serendipity, and experimentation play in writing and teaching personal narratives. We'll explore how we and other writers utilize the surprises that arise while drafting and, in turn, how we teach these strategies to graduates and undergraduates. In place of relying on preset stories and structures, we'll offer examples designed to help nonfiction writers learn to trust their instincts and intuitions as they compose their personal narratives.

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
S280. Beyond the Gild: Lyric Imperatives in the Personal Essay
Room LL5, Western New England MFA Annex, Lower Level
(Robert Root, Kathryn Winograd, Laura Julier, Steven Harvey, Jocelyn Bartkevicius)
Personal and lyric essays are sometimes perceived as antithetical by novice writers in creative nonfiction, the personal essay conscripted to linear narrative and the lyric essay to experimental poetics. The personal essayist may embrace poetic language, yet leave untapped elements such as metaphor, symbol, deep image, and associative logic. Writers, mentors, and editors discuss how to discover these “doorways” to broaden and deepen the revelatory journey into self and world.

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