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?)