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AWP Panels

Reading through the panel descriptions for AWP, I’m struck by how much more compelling I’m finding many of the poetry panels, though I am not a poet. I think it’s because — though I am interested in “content” in fiction, particularly related to representations by and of marginalized folks like Queers, women, people of color, etc. — I feel increasingly less interested in discussing content-related issues without some grounding in aesthetics, in language, form, etc. I want to better understand the interdependence of what is expressed and how it is expressed, and in what innovative ways it can be expressed and toward what ends (I also would love to see more about collaboration across artistic mediums and technologies, although I was by no means expecting that). I am thinking maybe poets are less able to separate aesthetics from “content” when they talk about their work, because form and language are so fundamental or whatever to how people tend to think about and discuss poetry.

(Also, why are there like 50 panels about the American West? Were there 50 panels about the Midwest last year? Will there be 50 next year about the beltway? Is that like an AWP thing?)

5 thoughts on “AWP Panels

  1. Tim;

    Don’t forget that there are always 50 about expressing yourself and unlocking your inner genius through creative writing.

    A friend tells me that a well-known university press has decided the entire venture has become too ridiculous, and will not attend; the press went to so far as to write their authors with this info….

    1. I would prefer to unlock my inner nymphomaniac if that’s alright with you.

      As I perhaps expected a this kind of conference, lots of stuff seems really myopic and self-congratulatory (ie, the numerous panels celebrating the anniversaries and/or grand legacies of boring university journals), and lots of stuff pertains to particular constituencies and interest groups within what somebody a bit more polemic than me might call the academic industrial complex — which I expected given who organizes AWP and its primary aims. I’m finding I’m a little bit curious about some of these caucuses and membership organizations, and kinda want to crash some of their meetings because I imagine aspects of what they discuss (or perhaps more accurately, how they discuss it) might fascinate me, because I like to see hidden gears turn and I’m drawn to folks caught up in petty drama they believe is significant (there’s an adjective for this I’m forgetting this morning — shit like the comedy of the Office, or Chris Guest… like pathos of the petty?), especially when it involves institutional dynamics, but probably sitting through one of these meetings would ultimately feel more like stabbing out my eyeballs.

  2. I always think selecting panels to attend is like selecting college classes — look for the moderators and participants who will make it engaging. The best topics in the world can fall flat if those elements aren’t in place, and seemingly dull topics can be a lot of fun with the right lineup.

    I really hope the room assignments are better this year…just about every panel I went to last year (all were small press related) was standing room only in little rooms.

    The fifty panels about the immediate geographic area is very much an AWP thing. From what I’ve seen, that practice is par for professional conferences. I suppose locals are a majority at any conference, and therefore might be more interested in them?

  3. I noticed that too, about the abundance of “The West” panels and discussions. Which, I don’t even think of Denver when I think of “The West.” I mean, sure, Denver is West, but not like, New Mexico.

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