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Ashland MFA Faculty and Staff at AWP Conference this March

The 2018 AWP Conference & Bookfair will be in Tampa, Florida, March 7-10. According to their website, the conference features over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The bookfair has more than 800 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world. 

If you're heading to this year's AWP conference be sure to stop by booth # 1416 and say hello. And please join us for a social event on Friday evening in the Marriott. Stop in for a drink and appetizers before heading out for off-site readings and after-hours fun. 

Many of our MFA instructors will be presenting at this year's panels. Here's a listing below! 

For more information on the conference and a full schedule of events, visit the AWP website.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Florida Salon 5, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
R174. In Search of Our Essays’ Mother(s): Women and the History of the Essay. (Jenny Spinner, Kyoko Mori, Angela Morales, Mary Cappello, Jocelyn Bartkevicius) While we celebrate this “Golden Age for Women Essayists,” we note that women essayists other than Woolf, Didion, and Dillard are largely absent from historical/critical studies of the essay. Our panelists argue for a more inclusive tradition, taking into account how women essayists have successfully handled the special demands of essaying over the centuries. We will offer perspectives on a diversity of women essayists who have shaped the essay’s history and charted the way to our golden present.

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Florida Salon 6, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
R175. Structuring the Novel: Methods, Approaches, Ideas. (Janet Fitch, Lindsey Drager, Christian KieferMatthew SalessesDerek Palacio) The methods of structuring book-length fiction are as numerous as they are difficult, especially in an era where the very idea of the "novel" is being called into question. Bringing together a diverse group of panelists with very different methods of structure, this panel strives to offer concrete answers to your structuring questions. What method might work best for the novel you are writing? How best to move forward? To outline or not to outline? How much to plan?

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
Room 7, 8, & 9, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
R280. Weaving All Our Tongues: Latinx Editors/Publishers and the Creation of Comunidad. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán,  Raina J. León,  Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano,  Casandra Lopez,  Carmen Giménez Smith) Latinx publishing builds stronger activist, artistic, and scholarly communities. Editors and publishers will discuss the production and maintenance of Latinx, Indigenous, African, womanist, queer/trans, pan-people of color, and multicultural journals, solo/co-authored books, anthologies, and presses. Collaboratively producing diverse texts, panelists will discuss navigating economic, logistical, and institutional challenges, while centering issues of culture, politics, aesthetics, and diversity.

Friday, March 9, 2018

10:30 am to 11:45 am
Grand Salon C, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
F140. Writing Revolution: Not Why, but How. (Gabrielle Lucille Fuentes, Peter Mountford, Nayomi Munaweera) What are the specific challenges of writing about resistance and protest movements? How do we balance ethics, polemics, and aesthetics? How do we portray the labor—emotional and otherwise—of change-makers? When depicting historical movements, what are the obligations to reality and the obligations to the imagination? This panel brings together writers for a craft discussion of how to write fiction about revolution, political violence, and entangled histories.

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Florida Salon 1, 2, & 3, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
F173. Workshops that Work, Workshops that Matter. (Tom Williams, Joy Castro, Beth Nguyen, Matthew Salesses) The workshop is the foundation of creative writing classes, but has it evolved to meet literary culture's diverse current needs? What conventions need rethinking? How do we talk about craft and not ignore its cultural implications? What practices might provide an encouraging and inclusive atmosphere for underrepresented students and limit reproductions of power? Four writers of color who teach share strategies to innovate and invigorate the workshop in ways that benefit all participants.

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
Cody D. Todd Memorial Stage, Sponsored by USC, Exhibit Hall, Tampa Convention Center, Third Floor
F216. Butler University MFA’s 10th Anniversary Reading. (Kaveh Akbar, Doug Manuel, Andrea Boucher) It’s the 10th Anniversary of that scrappy, don’t-count-us-out Butler University MFA program, and we are proud to celebrate our survival—and flourishing—with a reading that features three of our most successful alumni: Kaveh Akbar (Calling A Wolf a Wolf, Alice James Books 2017), Doug Manuel (Testify, Red Hen Press 2017), and Andrea Boucher (Redivider Beacon Street Prize in Nonfiction 2017).

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Room 1, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
F252. Undocupoets Speak. (Suzi F. Garcia, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Janine Joseph, Christopher Soto) In 2015, Undocupoets published an open petition asking for ten highly visible and renowned first book poetry contests to reconsider and remove the language stating US citizenship as a requirement for submission/publication. In fall 2016, they established the Undocupoets Fellowship. Janine Joseph joined them in order to begin this fellowship to help undocumented writers pay book contest fees. Here they will discuss their goals moving forward and the marginalization of undocumented writers.

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Room 11, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
F256. Writing as Migration. (Nancy W. Au, May-Lee Chai, Ploi Pirapokin, Nayomi Munaweera, Achy Obejas) Meaning thrives within the liminal linguistic space between words. For translators, this space is uniquely fraught. How do translators carry the scars of history, intersecting cultures and languages under their skin? What forms of resistance subsist and thrive within the art of translation? How do translators translate the untranslatable? What are the different ways and reasons translators might resist translation?

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
Room 14, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
F290. Whatever it Takes: Get Your Book the Attention It Deserves. (Sean Bernard, Vanessa Hua, Alicia Rabins, Douglas Manuel, Ariel Lewiton) Many authors don’t realize that in many ways, their work actually increases when the writing is done. Four recent first-book writers and one publicist will discuss the pitfalls and successes they’ve encountered in book promotion, sharing how to avoid mistakes both common and unique as well as strategies—from hustling reviews and doing book tours to selling poetry scarves, giving away temporary tattoos, making promotional trailers, and more—in order to usher works into happy existence.

4:30 pm to 5:45 pm 
Room 25, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
F299. Framing Life: Notes on Structuring the Book-Length Memoir. (Heather Kirn Lanier, Kelly Sundberg, Jill ChristmanKate Hopper) Both a book and a life are finite, but one is far unrulier than the other. How can the memoirist contain the messiness of life in a single manuscript? Where might the story begin and end? How can the writer employ or disrupt narrative chronology to keep the reader turning pages? Four writers discuss structural approaches to memoirs they’ve written as well as memoirs they love. Failed attempts and lessons learned will be unabashedly included.

6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Meeting Room 3, Tampa Marriott Waterside
Ashland MFA Meet and Greet (and Eat). Meet our new faculty and help us launch our second decade in style! Cash bar and appetizers provided. We welcome all friends of the program and those looking for a low-residency MFA program to call home. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

9:00 am to 10:15 am
Room 15, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
S126. Profundity as Purpose: Thoughts on Sentences, Vocabulary, and Style. (Christine Schutt, Josh Weil, John Keene, Christian Kiefer, Kim O'Neil) Thrilling! I couldn't put it down! A literary page-turner! Such exclamations speak to a particular set of reader values, namely that writing should be entertaining, concise, clear, and propulsive. This panel speaks to its political opposite: writing that stretches boundaries, considers musicality as important, searches for vocabulary and meaning. Where is today’s writing that takes up the gauntlet of Faulkner, Woolf, Dos Passos, and what can such writing mean in the 21st century?

12:00 pm to 1:15 pm
Florida Salon 6, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
S175. Explorations of Insidiousness: Writing Complicated Political Realities. (Diana Arterian, Douglas Manuel, Todd Fredson, Dexter L. Booth, Sarah Vap) Race, gender, genre, the border, the city, the home. Just as one category seeking to to organize human beings is dismantled, another appears. As one pillar is toppled, a more invisible one is erected in its place. Insidiousness is oil in the engines that power late capitalism. Panelists read new work in which they explore and expose the insidious nature of social constructions within the United States in order to contribute to a larger discourse on the writing and politics in the 21st century.

1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
Room 25, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
S231. This Is Not a Memoir: Thoughts on the Linked Essay Collection. (Sarah Viren, Angela Morales, Kristen Radtke, Ryan Van Meter, Elissa Washuta) What does it mean to publish—or read—a collection of linked essays? How is this nonfiction form different than a traditional essay collection or a memoir? And what characteristics, if any, does it share with a linked story collection? In this panel, writers and editors of linked essay collections will discuss the what and how of writing and publishing a linked essay collection, and why they didn’t just write a memoir.

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor
S237. Draining the Swamp: Writing as Resistance and Social Responsibility in a Post-Truth Era. (Keith Kopka, Ruben Quesada, Heather June Gibbons, Arisa White, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo) Writing has always served as a form of social and political resistance. From the ghettos of war-torn Warsaw to the American civil rights movement, writers have historically been a voice for the unrepresented and catalysts for social change. This panel will explore how our current social and political landscape has galvanized this traditional role of the writer, ways to get involved with current movements, and the importance of writing as a political act.

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm
Room 25, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

S262. What I Found in Florida: Essays From the Sunshine State. (Jim Ross, Jill Christman, Corey Ginsberg, Katelyn Keating, Lucy Bryan) This reading will feature five writers whose essays appear in the What I Found in Florida anthology, forthcoming from University Press of Florida (2018). Travel with these authors to a nature preserve in the panhandle, a Miami neighborhood beset by crime, and a centuries-old city in the path of a hurricane. In their works, Florida is not only a backdrop but also a character—one that inspires meditations on motherhood, the meaning of home, the passage of time, and the future of our planet.

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We're very pleased to introduce our spring 2018 Ashland MFA Faculty. We hope you're as excited about these names as we are. Included are a few links to help you get acquainted with these writers and their work: interviews, book reviews, short publications, excerpts.

For a full listing of faculty including their bios and additional information, visit our website's Faculty Page.


Dexter Booth

Author of Scratching the Ghost, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Booth’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Blackbird, VQR, and elsewhere.

Grist Journal review of Scratching the Ghost
“Love in the Time of Revolution” (Blackbird)
“Queen Elizabeth” (VQR)
“Insomnia Poem” (Waxwing)

Gaylord Brewer

Author of nine collections of poetry including Country of Ghost and Give Over, Graymalkin. Brewer has published over nine hundred poems in journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry and The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Smartish Pace Interview
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