AWP Happenings: I'm Already Exhausted and Exhilarated

By Sasha Steensen March 4, 2013  |  Faculty, Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Publishing, Readings, Teaching, Uncategorized, Writing  |  no responses

AWP 2013 is upon us, and we’ve all got big plans.  Check out what the CSU folks will be up to:


Dan Beachy-Quick:  Friday, March 8: 2:00: Ahsahta Book Signing;  3:30: The Arcadia Project Panel w/ Jennifer Moxley, Josh Corey, Jonathan Skinner, and Brenda Ijima; The Arcadia Project: Writing the Postmodern Pastoral; Location: Room 109, Hynes Convention Center; 6:30 The Arcadia Project Reading: Lamont Library in Harvard Yard from 6:30 to 8.

Stephanie G’Schwind: Stephanie will, of course, be vigilantly overseeing the Colorado Review booth. Panel, Saturday 9am: “What Do You Mean I Have to Change That? Information-Gathering” about the fact-checking process at lit journals. With Hattie Fletcher of Creative Nonfiction, Andrew Snee of The Sun, and Laura Julier of Fourth Genre.”

EJ Levy:Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award Anniversary Reading.  Hynes Center, Room  309, Level 3.  Saturday, 10:30; AWP Heat Reading, Friday, 2:30-6:00.  Dillon’s Restaurant and Bar.

Steven Schwartz: Saturday, March 9, 4:30 p.m, Love Thy Neighbors: How Secondary Characters Can Save Your Work. (Cynthia Reeves, Steven Schwartz, Robin Black, Edward Porter) Room 303, Level 3; Steven will also be doing a signing for his new book, Little Raw Souls, at my publisher’s table (Autumn House Press, tables E5, E6) from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Friday, March 8.

Sasha Steensen: Panel:  John Berryman’s Legacy of Extreme Expression.  Harvard, Lamont Library, Thursday 4:00-5:30; Reading (sort of): I am going to stop by and read to moms and their new babies, because I wish someone had done this for me when I took my 6month old to AWP in Atlanta 6 years ago.  Here’s what the organizers of this event say:  “We have babies and we want to see you! Please come by to read to our children! Plan to read from 3-5 minutes. You may see a little bootie during a diaper change as you read! You may see swaddling! Who knows what will happen!” And, I’ll be hanging out at the Fence and Colorado Review tables for a bit on Friday.


Abby Hill (1st year, Fiction) writes: “ I will be looking for panels discussing the writing of YA fiction and anything to do with craft. I’m also looking at panels that talk about landing a teaching job and the publishing industry, for professional reasons. I’m not very familiar with anyone reading, so I’m probably not going to attend any readings, although I will probably attend the Kansas University reading on Saturday, since that’s where I’m from.”

Sarah Louise Pieplow (3rd year, Poetry), writes: “I hope to make some panels Thursday a.m.- 10-minute play;- New Native American authors; 12-4 Volunteer for AWP; 12 readers at Cantab; Friday: Arcadia Project reading w/ dbq; Writers of color;” Sat: “Kumanyakaa,” “Bringing poetry to the people.”

Samantha Tucker Lacovetto (first year, Nonfiction) will be attending any Nonfiction-related panel possible.

Joanna Doxey (3rd year, Poetry) writes, “I’m manning the Colorado Review booth for a couple hours each day and especially looking forward to seeing Jack Christian and Kate Greenstreet (amongst other 12 GOOD WRITERS) read at the Cantab in Central Square (a bar which is also home to a weekly poetry slam event). And, of course, some panels. This one in particular: Prose and Verse Consubstantial: The New Mixed Form. (Peter Streckfus, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, C.D. Wright, Carole Maso, Julie Carr)”

 Brittany Goss (3rd year, Fiction) is planning on attending the following panels/readings : Thursday: 9:00 am:  Landing the Tenure-Track Job without a Book: What to Expect in the Job Market;  12:00 – 1:15 The Fulbright Fellow Information Panel;   4-5: Queertopia Reading at Club Café; Thursday night: VIDA reading and party at Daisy Buchanan’s.  Friday: 10:30 Courage, Craft, and Cunning: From MFA Thesis to Published Book;  3:00  Women on the Road: Exploration, Inspiration, and Imagination in Fiction;  4:30 A Tribute to Adrienne Rich. Saturday 3:00, Hearing Voices. (Kate Daniels, Steven Cramer, Jean McGarry); 4:30 — Steven Schwartz’s panel on secondary characters.

Mary Ballard (1st year, Poetry) plans on attending the following panels/ readings, among others; Thursday: 9-10:15: Poetry Readings in the Age of Social Media. (Emily Kendal Frey); 10:30-11:45: Odes, Psalms and Praise Songs; 12-1:15: Prose and Verse Consubstantial: The New Mixed Form;1:30-2:45: Understanding Narrative Medicine: Healing the Medical Profession and Patients through Literature. 3-4:15: The Artof Healing; Friday Panels: Faithful Niche or Faithful Kitsch? The Necessity of Christian Literary Publishing; 3-4:15: Making Emerson Matter;Saturday: 9-10:15, The Art of Losing; 12-1:15, Wesleyan Reading (Armantrout); Readings: Thursday:  6:30: 12 Good Readers (Cantab Lounge); 7-9: Tin House & Octopus Books;  Friday: No Thousands, Part 2: An Indie Press Event with Wave Books, McSweeney’s and Blacck Ocean. Saturday: Anne Carson, Hynes Ballroom 8:30-10p

Derek Askey (3rd year, Fiction), plans to attend the following panels/ readings, among others: Thursday:” Looking for Real-Life Humberts: The Unreliable Narrator in Creative Nonfiction;” “Keeping Track of Your Book;” “ Sources of Inspiration;” “Tribute to DeWitt Henry.” 12 Good Readers.” Friday: F110. Purpose and the Practical in Historical Writing.; F219. Don DeLillo & Dana Spiotta: A Reading and Conversation, Sponsored by The Center for Fiction; F267. What We Write About When We Write About Music;  ARCADIA PROJECT reading;  Saturday: S121. What Do You Mean, I Have to Change That? Creative Nonfiction Editors Explain Logistical Challenges Writers Face along the Path to Publication (and Offer Some Tips for Avoiding Common Pitfalls).; S151. Flannery O’Connor Short Fiction Award 30th Anniversary Reading; S257. Love Thy Neighbors: How Secondary Characters Can Save Your Work.; An Evening with The Sun.

And, saving the best for last, here is Kaelyn Riley (2nd year, Poetry) imagining her trip in wonderful detail:

Things to Do at AWP 2013

Wednesday, March 6th

8:30AM – Find yourself at the airport. You’re actually not yet sure how this is going to happen, but hope to avoid spending much needed book-and-bourbon money on airport parking, and so may hitch a ride via the generosity of some other kind MFA student.

9:30AM – Boarding begins. Separate Findlay and Askey on the airplane, so as to avoid squabbles over bags of peanuts and to keep the in-flight chatter from getting too fictiony.

10:05AM – Takeoff. Deep breaths. It’s just me and you, magical flying steel monster.

3:50PM – Land in Boston. Pat yourself on the back for deciding to leave the freshman composition papers on your desk in Fort Collins.

5:00PM & onward – Check in to awesome weekend digs. Have celebratory post-airplane drink at some radical Boston joint, to be pointed out to you by more learned East Coast experts (Joanna Doxey, slp, &c). Keep eyes peeled for Rajon Rondo.

Thursday, March 7th

9:00AM – Breakfast of fiber and protein for a long day of learning and note-taking and elbow-rubbing. Or maybe crab. Doesn’t Boston have good crab?

10:00AM – Acquire AWP credentials.

10:30-11:45AM – Panel on Breaking Silence: The Interior Life of the Poet, in homage to Adrienne Rich. The poem as an act of willful speech—as a thing that proceeds from silence—has really been central to my thinking about my developing manuscript.

12:00-1:15PM – Panel on Prose and Verse Consubstantial: The New Mixed Form. In the post-post-modern age, I think genre boundaries were made for crossing.

1:30PM – Book fair exploration. Try not to spend your entire stipend. Also try to find the table handing out samples of Franzia.

2:30-4:30PM – Work the book fair table for the Colorado Review.

4:30-5:45PM – Panel on Thoreau’s Granddaughters: Women Writing the Wild. My work doesn’t necessarily root itself in the natural world, but I’m a huge fan of the work of panelist Pam Houston (who kicked off our spring semester reading series here at CSU at the end of January) and Cheryl Strayed.

6:00PM – Feed.

8:30-10:00PM – Keynote Conversation w/ Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott. When I read this on the schedule, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I’m actually reading Walcott’s Haitian Trilogy right now for Leif Sorenson’s Afro-Caribbean literature class. And Seamus Heaney. Obviously.

10:00PM onward – Reunite with CSU fellows. Float the notion of the All-Collegiate Slam. Will probably end up at an off-site reading. Remain on the alert for any Celtics who might be roaming the streets of Boston. There is a home game on Friday night.

Friday, March 8th

10:30-11:45AM – Panel on Yoga and the Life of the Writer. I first started doing yoga while I was living in California, and I totally fell in love. While my work and obligations at CSU often don’t mean time for daily classes, I’ve been trying to incorporate some of the sentiments of yoga in my life away from the mat. I’ve been thinking a lot, in particular, about mindfulness this semester—that being a writer (or, hell, a thinker) has to mean living in the present moment.

12:00-1:15PM – Panel on 1963: 50 Years Later. I’m fascinated by any conversation about the current state of American poetry. I think we’ve lived our way out of post-modernism, and that anyone writing these days has to either confront the problem of what that means or pretend it doesn’t exist. I’m also very tied to the understanding of American poetry as the understanding of its lineage, particularly because I’m preparing to teach E210: Introduction to Creative Writing in my third year.

1:30PM – Feed, amble about book fair.

2:30-4:30PM – Work the book fair table for the Colorado Review.

4:30-5:45PM – Reading with Alison Bechdel & Jeanette Winterson. I first read Bechdel’s graphic memoir Fun Home when I was an undergraduate at Illinois Wesleyan University. In my capacity as Assistant to the Director of the Creative Writing Reading Series, I’ve been trying to think of events that we might have next year that could interest students in a multitude of disciplines, and so I’m particularly interested to see how Bechdel—whose work is primarily comic strips and graphic novels—negotiates the public reading space.

6:00-8:00PM – At least think about leaving the conference briefly, to poke around Boston and maybe stand casually for awhile in front of TD Garden (home of the Boston Celtics, who have won the NBA Championship seventeen times and just happen to have a home game starting right around this time).

8:30-10:00PM – Language at the Breaking Point. Try to avoid looking like too much of a fangirl in the company of Jorie Graham and Terrance Hayes.

10:00PM onward – offsite readings, bourbon, French fries, &c.


Saturday, March 9th

8:30-10:30AM – Work the book fair table for the Colorado Review. At this point, you’ve been off coffee for two months, and though you’ll think you want a cappuccino on this, the very early morning of the last day at AWP when you’re sleepy and probably hungover and your brain is full of all the brilliant things people have been saying around you for the past few days, you’ll need to stay strong. Herbal tea it is.

10:30-11:45AM – Panel on Breaking the Jaws of Silence. Public education is a value very close to my heart, and I came to Colorado from California, where privatization of the public university is an increasingly more present threat. I’m very attached to the recent UC student movement and was a part of various protests and demonstrations during my time on campus at UC Davis. And so I’m very invested in the notion of the poet as activist, and think that protest and poesy are linked, if not inextricably at least partially, through the politics of the body. Sometimes things set me on fire. Sometimes those things are political, sometimes social, sometimes something else entirely. And I think I’m the same person out in the world as I am writing a poem. And I think I can be a vigorous advocate of both poetic consciousness and collective political and social integrity. At least, I’m trying very much to hold both things.

1:30-2:45PM – Panel on Don’t Stop Believing: Leading the Writing Life After the MFA.

3:00PM – Feed.

4:30-5:45 – Panel on Levity and Gravity. I’m not sure what the secret of lightness is, but I think if I’m gonna learn it, it probably would be through the work of Italo Calvino.

6:00PM – At this point I plan to fall over from sheer exhaustion. I don’t know what’s happening on Saturday night. I don’t know who’s reading where or when. I don’t know what time our flight leaves on Sunday. I don’t know much of anything. Don’t tell my students.




Sasha Steensen

Sasha Steensen is the author of four books of poetry, most recently House of Deer (Fence Books), and Gatherest (Ahsahta Press). She has published several essays including Openings: Into Our Vertical Cosmos at essay Press ( and Pure Shame (Interim).  She is a poetry editor for Colorado Review and she teaches at Colorado State University.

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