The coloring books project goes to AWP15: some (amazing) sample panels

Friends —

I’ve received some wonderful, thought-provoking and thought-ful responses to my previous blog post “When jews aren’t white.” Thanks to these comments, I’m reading Albert Memmi’s novel about being a Jewish person of color in Tunis right now. I hope to blog more about this topic soon.

But for now, I’d like to share some of the panels that look interesting to me at the American Writing Programs Conference that’s being held this year in Minneapolis.

I’m hoping to continue this year’s blog project by focussing as much as possible on panels featuring writers of color.

It turns out there’s ALOT to choose from. And this is wonderful. Here is a just sampling.

Note: If you are sponsoring or are on a panel focussing on writers of color, it would be great if you would please paste the information in the comments section!  Thank you!!!!!

From the Thursday program:


R168. Hurston/Wright Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Reading. 

Room 200 B&C, Level 2.

(Marita Golden, Tayari Jones, Ravi Howard, Abdul Ali)

This reading will bring together writers who have taught in or are alumni of Hurston/Wright Writing Workshops or writers who have won Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and whose lives and writing careers have been positively impacted by the work of the Foundation. To celebrate Hurston/Wright’s 25th anniversary, each reader will offer a brief reading and appreciation of Hurston/Wright.

1:30 p.m. to Two-forty-five p.m.

R208. Cuentame Algo: Latino Oral Histories and Emerging Writers. 
Room 208 C&D, Level 2.
(Rebecca Fortes, Adriana Castaño, Natalia Baqueiro, Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés)
Creative writing students were presented with the opportunity to conduct oral history/literacy narratives of Latinos, and several interviewed family members. Three undergraduates, children of Cuban, Colombian, or Mexican immigrants, found the experience culturally evocative and creatively inspiring. Students share the pride, sympathy, and wholeness gained and also comment on how the interviews influenced their writing. Their instructor will moderate and discuss the assignment’s purpose and goals.

R211. Indigenous Voices North to South: a Reading of Picture Books, YA Fiction, and Poetry. 
Room M100 A, Mezzanine Level.
(Eric Gansworth, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Joan Kane, Tim Tingle, Debby Dahl Edwardson)
This reading celebrates Indigenous-based literature from Alaska to Texas with authors who write picture books, young adult and adult fiction, and poetry. Writers include Whiting Writers’ Award-winning poet Joan Kane (Inupiat), New York Timesbest-selling children’s writer Cynthia Lietech Smith (Mvskoke), American Book Award-winning multi-genre writer/artist Eric Gansworth (Onondago), and National Book Award finalist and young adult writer Debby Dahl Edwardson (Alaskan).

R221. The Big No: Taboo and Black Sexuality in Contemporary American Poetry.
Room L100 H&I, Lower Level.
(Kyle Dargan, Kima Jones, Chet’la Sebree, Kevin Simmonds, Lamar Wilson)
Historically, African American artists’ depictions of sexuality have conformed to or been forced to confront what scholar Evelyn Higginbotham refers to as the politics of respectability. This panel will examine how contemporary African American poets, though clearly writing on the other side of the sexual revolution, continue to wrestle with the ways in which their work troubles the political divisions between honest, expansive sexual expression and the idea of social respectability.

3 p.m. to Four-fifteen p.m.

R226. Composing and Critiquing in Color: Students and Teachers on Feedback. 
Auditorium Room 3, Level 1.
(Maria Vera Tata, Hamoun Khalili Hosseinabad, Rebecca Fortes, Cecilia Rodriguez Milanes, Iris Mora)
Feedback is notoriously unpredictable and when writers of color present their work, many classmates donʹt even know how to speak about the racial/cultural issues present. Frustration and anger may arise, leading them to seek feedback from mentors of color, oftentimes their former instructors. Three generations of writers—three undergraduates, an MFA TA, and teacher—will discuss the sensitivity desired to fully articulate the importance of culture and diversity in evaluating student writing.

R244. Neither Here Nor There: Third Culture Writers and Writing. 
Room M100 B&C, Mezzanine Level.
(David Carlin, Xu Xi, Michelle Aung Thin, Mieke Eerkens)
Third Culture Kids are the offspring of parents from different cultural backgrounds who live transcultural and transnational lives. This session discusses the notion of the Third Culture Writer: writers whose work emerges out of the personal experience of culturally and geographically hybrid perspectives. Hear firsthand as a panel of variously hyphenated Asian, Australian, American, and European Third Culture Writers reflect on how they creatively negotiate being globalised on a human scale.

R245. Hybridity as Origin: Writing from Multiracial Experience. 
Room M100 D&E, Mezzanine Level.
(Rosebud Ben-Oni, Marie Mockett, Alyss Dixson, Wendy Babiak, Aaron Samuels)
What are the defining origins of multiracial writers? How do they construct their own voices beyond borders of race, ethnicity, and gender? Can the writer represent an authentic voice of her or his cultural heritages? This panel will explore how multiracial writers evolve their origins, and are not solely defined by them. We will discuss in particular how each breaks down and recreates histories by examining the various migrations, assimilation, and beliefs that shape the creative self.

4:30 pm-5:45

R265. Arab American Writers: A Reading & Discussion.

Room 200 B&C, Level 2. (Randa Jarrar, Elmaz Abinader, Philip Metres, Hayan Charara, Kathryn Haddad)

Five award-winning writers—Elmaz Abinader, Hayan Charara, Kathryn Haddad, Randa Jarrar, and Philip Metres—discuss the politics and practicalities of writing while Arab. What responsibilities, if any, do Arab American writers of fiction, poetry, essays, and plays hold post-Arab-Spring? Presenters will explore Arab American perspectives in post-colonial and academic contexts and activist communities, and discuss how Arab American writing can embrace an honest and complex version of identity.

R268. A Fable for Horror. 
Room 200 H&I, Level 2.
(Joyelle McSweeney, Raul Zurita, Valerie Mejer, Daniel Borzutzky, Anna Deeny)
How do poets of Chile, South Korea, and Uruguay imagine historical horror? A panel of internationally renowned poets and translators from Mexico, Chile, and the US will explore how domination, power, dictatorships, torture, and massacres are imagined through fables of animals, insects, and flowers in the poetry of Marosa di Giorgio, Raul Zurita, Kim Hyesoon, and Valerie Mejer.


12 ti 1:15

F171. Writers of Color Moving Beyond the Boundaries of Our Communities: A VONA/Voices Writers Panel. Room 101 F&G, Level 1. (Elmaz Abinader, David Mura, Tara Betts, Frank Wilderson, Marissa Johnson-Valenzeula)

The VONA/Voices workshop fosters dialogue and learning between writers of color from different communities. This panel/reading will examine how such interactions are shifting our sense of the canon, complicating our histories and identities, exposing blinds spots within our communities, and connecting our writing to the contexts of global literature and politics. In the process, we will be mapping a course for American literature in the 21st century.

F177. 20 Years of Diversity: The University of Arizona Press Celebrates the Camino del Sol Literary Series. 

Room 200 H&I, Level 2. (Ray Gonzalez, Julie Sophia Paegle, J. Michael Martinez, Edwin Torres)

Since 1994, The University of Arizona Press has published new and established voices in Latino letters in its award-winning Camino del Sol literary series. In two decades, Camino del Sol has cultivated an admirable and sizeable list of distinguished contemporary authors, including those who’ve earned accolades from the National Book Critics Circle, the Before Columbus Foundation, and the PEN American Center. Camino del Sol founder will join writers to present brief readings.

F188. Cream City Review Celebrates Returning the Gift Native American Writers. (,  ,  ,  ,  )Room M100 H&I, Mezzanine Level

In 1992, 500 years after Columbus, more than 300 Native American writers gathered at the first Returning the Gift Festival, bringing together more Native writers than at any other point in history. Cream City Review celebrated the legacy of this now annual gathering with a special issue entitled “Returning the Gift: Indigenous Futures.” Please join us for our Gathering of Words with a poetry and fiction reading from emerging and established Native American writers published in this issue.

F190. Imaginary Readers: Who Are We Writing For? 
Room L100 A, Lower Level.
(Kathleen Alcala, Donna Miscolta, Carmen T Bernier – Grand, Maria de Lourdes Victoria) When a writer finishes a book, she might imagine a reader much like herself—a bilingual, US-born Latina, with memories from her immigrant parents. In reality, her readers might be monolingual, Anglo-American women with romantic images of Mexico as a vacation destination. How do we negotiate between imaginary readers and who really buys our books? In this panel, four Latina novelists will describe their assumed audiences and compare them with the realities of market research.


F196. Literature and Hip Hop: An Investigation Sponsored by Rain Taxi Review of Books. Main Auditorium, Level 1.
(Adrian Matejka, Dessa Darling, P.O.S., Kevin Beacham)
Arguments abound over whether rap is or isn’t poetry, with some arguing for its literary merit and others saying it shouldn’t have to smuggle itself into the critical conversation tucked in the dust jacket of another genre. This group of acclaimed practitioners of hip hop and poetry alike, including Kevin Beacham, Dessa, POS, and Adrian Matejka, will showcase hip hop lyrics and poems and debate about the spaces where literature and hip hop converge.

F212. The City and the Writer: In Focus Minneapolis and Palestine. 

Room 205 C&D, Level 2. (Najwan Darwish, Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Gretchen Marquette, Dr. Leslie Adrienne Miller, Nathalie Handal)

The City and the Writer is a vibrant, wide-ranging forum that explores cities through the writing of local authors. The series has featured writers from around the globe. Join Palestinian and Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press writers for the first cross-city exchange, where they will be having a cross-disciplinary conversation on how urban life creates imaginative spaces, architecture and literature consider human scale and interaction, and how they have translated their cities and words create cities.

F227. Queer/Feminist/of Color Presses on the Imperative to Publish.
Room L100 H&I, Lower Level.
(T. Jackie Cuevas, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Sara A. Ramírez, Lisa C. Moore, Kim Tran)
Queer/feminist/of color presses defy the imperative of mainstream publishing by looking to our communities, instead of market trends, for guidance on who, what, why, and how we publish. In an unprecedented gathering, publishers from RedBone, Evelyn Street, Third Woman, and Kórima Press will gather to speak to the vision and processes that guide our work to document and create artifacts in a world where our people’s voices are published at inanely lower numbers than white and/or straight authors.


F238. Ars Poetica, Ex Machina: On Race, Gender, and Machine Translation. 
Room 101 F&G, Level 1.
(Karen An-hwei Lee, Arlene Kim, Prageeta Sharma, Margaret Rhee, Tung-Hui Hu)
In our age of post-mechanical reproduction, what is machine translation? On this panel, innovative poets will discuss their creation of experimental translations using digital technology. While the flaws of machine translation are multifarious, those limitations offer potential for language experiments like back-translation, recombination, or code-switching within contexts of race and gender.

F246. Performance Poetry: A Pedagogical Guide to Social Activism in the Classroom.
Room 205 C&D, Level 2.
(Karla Cordero, Rachel Gellman, Joe Limer, Anthony Blacksher)
This session will present five teachers, diverse in background and poetics, who will discuss the use of performance poetry as a tool to develop student voice. From high school to college level, educators are examining voice as a metaphor for power in writing. Rhetorical power through poetic exercise, in turn, can allow students to reclaim their voice, identity, and belonging in society. How can poetry confront class in the classroom? Join us in a dialogue about poetry, race, and social change.

F250. Breaking the Body: Women Writers Reconfiguring Creative Nonfiction Forms. 

Room 211 C&D, Level 2. (Melissa Febos, Elissa Washuta, Lidia Yuknavitch, Joy Harjo, Sarah Dohrmann)

Within the evolution of creative nonfiction lie specific challenges for women writers breaking traditional forms—through the writing process, publication, and reception. Craft is often overlooked when a woman’s writing includes personal elements, especially of body and sexuality. Four writers with distinctly varied styles discuss scrupulously crafting innovative work, and then navigating its reception in a culture with still rigid conceptions of form, its limits, and who can break them.


F279. Making Diversity Happen: Editors Can Change the Literary Landscape. 

Room 208 A&B, Level 2. (Lee Hope, Martha Nichols, Danielle Georges, Leesa Cross-Smith, J.W. Wang)

Many literary editors now acknowledge the lack of diversity in the writers they publish. Yet the debate often turns into female and minority authors blaming the editing “guys”—and editors, male and female, wringing their hands but offering few solutions. This panel will focus on what editors and writers need to do to make diversity happen, be it networking outside their comfort zones, hiring editors of color, or running online social media campaigns to promote a truly diverse literary world.

F282. Ethno-Representations of War & Violence.
Room 211 C&D, Level 2.(Nomi Stone, Tarfia Faizullah, Jehanne Dubrow, Solmaz Sharif)

Drawing on Carolyn Forché’s notion of a third space of the social, which bridges the personal and political, we interrogate and enlarge methodologies, languages, and source-worlds in writing poetry about war/violence. Panelists will engage poems drawn from interviews of Bangladeshi victims of wartime rape; of Iraq War refugees who reenact war in US pre-deployment simulations; and of Jews in Honduras after the Holocaust, as well as poems that re-imagine the Department of Defense’s security dictionary.

F283. Racing Creative Writing: Pedagogy and Practice. 
Room M100 A, Mezzanine Level. (Metta Sama, Rae Paris, Tracie Morris, Raquel Goodison)

This panel of four Black women will address our concerns in teaching race and ethnicity in creative writing workshops. We will consider the ways we navigate (hyper)visibility and erasure, honor our aesthetics, encourage students to identify their own poetics/aesthetics, and support students in examining the ways their racial identity(ies) impact their writing. We will delve into our responsibilities and challenges as teachers, writers, and artists in remixing/dismantling the White gaze.

F291. How We Survived Genocide: Queer Indigenous Men’s Writing. Room L100 F&G, Lower Level.

(Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Max Wolf Valerio, Matthew R. K. Haynes-Kekahuna, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, David Keali’i)

Furthering Indigenous, womanist, and queer literary traditions of color, queer Native men are creating art detailing the struggles and beautiful survival of multiple sovereign territories. Transgender and same-gender-loving writers and editors from the Américas and Pacific will discuss how Indigenous interpenetrating bodies—terrestrial, cultural, physical—figure in their work. How the land and lovers are woven together, families and futures, the surviving of genocide, intimately linked.


Nine o’clock a.m. to Ten-fifteen a.m.

S122. Split/Selves: Performing Poetics, Politics, and Identity.

Room M100 A, Mezzanine Level. (Neelanjana Banerjee, Chiwan Choi, Nicholas Wong, Samantha Chanse, D’Lo D’Lo)
In this cross-genre panel, we ask four internationally renowned queer, mixed race, transgender, and immigrant poets and theater artists: What constitutes the self in poetry and performance? How can that self be communicated to an audience? How do poetry and performance inform each other on both the printed page and stage? This panel will feature mini-performances and a discussion about how performance and poetry can work together to convey the truth of complex identities in a modern world.


S146. Why Reviewing Matters: Diversity in Reviews.

Room 200 H&I, Level 2.(Alyse Bensel, Robin Becker, Randon Billings Noble, Camille-Yvette Welsch)

The VIDA count continues to show gender disparity in book reviewers and authors reviewed. This panel of book review editors and reviewers will discuss their efforts and offer practical strategies to combat this gender gap and lack of diversity by examining title and reviewer selection as well as when, where, and how reviews are published. New and seasoned reviewers will have the opportunity to engage in a discussion about how to select titles and work with publications to promote inclusivity.


S165. Veils and Words: Poetry by Mohja Kahf, Dunya Mikhail, and Farzaneh Milani, Sponsored by Poets House.
Auditorium Room 1, Level 1. (Mohja Kahf, Dunya Mikhail, Farzaneh Milani, Stephen Motika)
‘Being a poet means being human,’ declared the great Iranian feminist poet Forugh Farrokhazed. Three leading Middle Eastern American poet-scholars explore the complicated intersection of religion, gender, and political life through readings and discussion of their work and the work of the great female poets of their home countries—Iran, Iraq, and Syria—as a way to understand the evolutions and revolutions of the last fifty years.


S225. Poetry and the New Black Masculinity, Part Two.
Room L100 F&G, Lower Level.
(Kevin Simmonds, Danez Smith, Tim Seibles, Pages Matam)
The work of contemporary black male poets reflects assertions and disruptions often missing from mainstream black male representation. As a continuation of the seminal panel at Split This Rock (STR) Poetry Festival 2014, five noted black male poets—at various stages in their careers and representing a wide range of genre-defiant aesthetic and performative practices—reconvene to discuss themes and conventions emanating from their own social, artistic, and political narratives.

Three o’clock p.m. to Four-fifteen p.m.

S228. Finding Voice with Roxane Gay, Pablo Medina, Michael Thomas, and Bob Shacochis, Sponsored by Grove/Atlantic Press.

Main Auditorium, Level 1. (Bob Shacochis, Michael Thomas, Roxane Gay, John Freeman, Pablo Medina)
A panel featuring four incredible, diverse Grove voices: cultural critic, essayist, and novelist, Roxane Gay; poet and novelist Pablo Medina; IMPAC award winner Michael Thomas; and 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist Bob Shacochis. Together, these authors will discuss their writing processes and read from new and/or forthcoming work. The conversation will be moderated by author, literary critic, and former Granta editor, John Freeman.

Four-thirty p.m. to Five-forty-five p.m.

S268. Queridos: A Reading by Gay Latinos.

Room 101 J, Level 1. (Ruben Quesada, Francisco X. Alarcón, Benjamin Garcia, Miguel M. Morales, Pablo Miguel Martínez)

This poetry reading will present a group of openly gay (queer) Latino poets at various stages in their careers. These authors, who come from around the country—brought together through creativity and community—will share a variety of original poems inspired by and/or against their identity as gay (queer) Latinos.


For the full schedule click here.

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