This year, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs held its annual conference (AWP) in Washington, D.C. More than 12,000 writers and publishers flooded the city for four days of craft talks, panel presentations, readings, and more. Houston writers represented the best of our city’s expansive literary community. In fact, Houston was so well-represented at AWP it would be impossible to list every event. Instead, I’ll highlight just a few.
Poetry fans packed the house at DC-bar Bayou for a late-night reading hosted by University of Houston-based Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. (Other hosts for the event, called The Magnificent Seven, included AGNI, American Literary Review, Boulevard, cream city review, Pleiades, and PoemoftheWeek.org.) The spirited crowd cheered readings by Chen Chen, Alice Elliott Dark, Matt Donovan, David Keplinger, Shara McCallum, Gregory Pardlo, Caitlin Pryor, Maggie Smith, and Ryo Yamaguchi. Gulf Coast also held down a table at the book fair throughout AWP, and presented Gulf Coast: 30 Years in the Life of a Student-Run Journal, a dialogue with several past journal editors.
Across town, University of Houston Creative Writing Program (UH CWP) graduate student Niki Herd joined Jan Beatty, Sarah Browning, Denise Duhamel, and Valerie Martinez at Coffy Café for another well-attended reading. In addition, Herd moderated a panel on Sexual Violence and the Poem as a Formal Body. Cait Weiss, also a UH CWP graduate student, participated in the panel.
Other events featuring Houston writers included poet and UH CWP professor Kevin Prufer, who presented on Expanding the Canon; poet and UH CWP professor Nick Flynn, who spoke on Strange Bedfellows: The Unholy Mingling of Politics and Art; two panels with Houston-writer Joanna Eleftheriou, one on Creative Writing and Social Justice, and another on Going There: Writing the Complicated Truth in the World Hot Spots; and many more.
As always, AWP was boisterous, eye-opening, and instructive. For that, we have many Houston writers to thank. To learn more about the conference visit the AWP website here.