If creative writing were an industry, AWP would be the industry event of the year. With four days of literary readings, panel discussions, schmoozing, and an enormous book fair, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs 2009 Conference is kicking off this weekend at the Hilton in Chicago.
Art Speigelman will be keynoting, supported by a long and illustrious list of featured presenters, including Marilynne Robinson, Paul Muldoon, Aleksandar Hemon, and Lucille Clifton. There are tons of panels, from “Elegiac Memoirs of Protest” to “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!: Five Chicago Writers Mark Their Territory” from “Getting Published for the First Time: What to Expect” to “The Sister Art(s): Toward A Feminist Ekphrasis.” And that’s just Thursday’s panels. In addition to the sanctioned conference activities, dozens of lit mags, MFA programs, and cultural centers are hosting off-site events around the city. These range from “Poetry in Translation” (a number of big name poets and translators reading at The Poetry Center of Chicago) to “An Evening of Consumption” (a reading at a coffee shop featuring last year’s crop of Bread Loaf waiters). Again, that’s just Thursday.
I’ll be blogging about the conference all weekend, posting each morning about the previous day’s noteworthy events. If you’re at the conference, feel free to post your impressions and other comments. If you can’t make it and there’s something you really want me to check out, feel free to make a request.