#AWP15: On Firsts


–by Chelsea Kindred


First AWP.

First plane ride where passengers are reading The Paris Review instead of US Weekly.

First snow rain in April, first city split in two and stretched across the Mississippi. The same river that crawls across the country, curving in and out of the words of writers past, present and future.

First panel, first page of notes, first inky smudge from tip of pinky to bottom of wrist on my left hand. That tell tale sign that I’ve been writing. Continue reading

#AWP15: Listen Up

–by Shannon Reed

mini apple 2

In the weeks leading up to my first AWP conference, I heard a great deal of advice. Although much of it turned out to be helpful, the words “strategize” and “survive” were so often included, I began to think of my trip to Minneapolis as a minor campaign in a small, bloodless war. Get in. Get free bookmarks. If the battlefield is clear, maybe snag a free tote bag. Avoid the panels. And then, get out. As it turned out, I enjoyed the conference a great deal more than I expected – the free tote bags guy at the London Review of Books was really nice! – but I also came away more concerned about the inclusivity of the world that AWP gathers together.

Much has been written about the representation (or lack thereof) of writers of color and LGBTQ writers at AWP, and, from my limited perspective, the concern seems justified. Here, though, I want to point to another area I worry about, one that I am better equipped to speak to: the way the conference actually unfolds, which leads to a prioritizing of one kind of communication and learning over all others. Continue reading