My AWP Experience

I don’t know how to pose for pictures. Don’t judge me.

It’s been more than a week since I went to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference, but I still want to share my experience. It was my first time visiting the Oregon Convention Center and let me tell you it was huuugee! Last I heard, there were over 14,000 people in attendance. Even though I was only able to attend on the last day, I had a blast, met a ton of new people, and overall enjoyed the atmosphere of being with other writers and publishing professionals.

I attended four sessions.

  • Mining the Everyday: Using Real Life Experiences as Creative Research
  • Neither From Here of There: The Bilingual Writer’s Search for Belonging and Place
  • Editing into Negative Capability: Methods & Impacts of Manuscript Revision
  • Worth a Thousand Words: Poetry, Photography, and Instagram

I enjoyed every single one of them, but the panel about creative research was my favorite. The panelists Susanna Vander Vorste, Namrata Poddar, Kristen Iversen, and Rajpreet Heir shared their personal stories and answered questions about their research methods and how those methods helped them in their creative process. They ended by reading sections from their work ranging from funny topics such as Rajpreet’s account of being “An Indian in Yoga Class” to chilling topics like Kristen’s near kidnapping experience and her indirect connection to Ted Bundy addressed in her story “When Death Comes to Golden.” I would definitely like to check out more of their work and learn more about creative research.

Fun fact. Just before writing this blog, I was at the PSU library and The Art of Creative Research by Philip Gerard was on the display shelf, so I checked it out. We shall see 👀

The second panel was probably the most thought-provoking session I attended. What I loved about it was that the panelists switched freely between English and Spanish and, inevitably, Spanglish. They were asked some pretty heavy questions like “In your writing, have you felt like you have had to choose between one language/culture over the other?” The truth is that some answers are easier to express in a certain language and I love how they embraced that dynamic during the session.

I left that panel early to head over to the book signing room. My former professor, Penn Stewart, or Dr. John Schulze, was signing his novel Fertile Ground and his collection of short stories The Water in Our Veins. It was nice getting to catch up with him and show him the Ooligan Press table. I’ll be reading and reviewing his both of them eventually.

After browsing the tables in the exhibit room, I headed over to the third panel. As much as I enjoyed the discussion, to me it seemed to lean more to the impacts of manuscript revision rather than actual methods, so I’m not sure how much I got from it. The last session I attended mostly consisted of the panelists talking about their style and showing us their work. Then again, I probably missed a lot because I kept dozing off. I had only had 2 hours of sleep the night before because I was up all night writing.

Ah, the life of a writer…

Upcoming post: March/April Book Haul