Friday, February 13, 2009

224: AWP, Day 2

Top: Paul Muldoon + Major Jackson; Bottom: Marie Ponsot

The Duty of a Writer.
(Jackson Taylor, Marie Ponsot, Paul Muldoon, Sapphire, Major Jackson) In America, we legitimize a creative writer by noting commercial success—but what is often left unnoticed is that the creative writer performs a very important job in society—the recording of truth as he or she sees it. With truth, the writer hopes to engage the conscience of people—and perhaps get them to ask their own questions. William Blake weighed out that without contraries there is no progression—and one of the duties a writer performs is to present contraries—questioning authority in order to discern that which is ethical and legitimate. This panel will explore the duty of the writer, particularly from the perspective of a student, discuss the potential for literature to affect social change, ask if literature is an alternative to consumer culture, and explore why so many writers find their way into exile.

Top: Valzhyna Mort; Bottom: Kwame Dawes

Poetry of Resilience.
(Alison Granucci, Kwame Dawes, Katja Esson, Valzhyna Mort, Brian Turner) From prison life to the war in Iraq to global acts of violence and suppression against human beings, poetry has been used to speak out and to help transform traumatic events. Through their poems and narratives these extraordinary poets take us to the hearts of these events—a young Belarusian challenges a forbidden language, the ghosts of American soldiers in Balad still speak, and we are allowed a glimpse of the inner lives of inmates. With their verse they unveil the sublimation in poetry. With their unflinching accounts they remind us how frail the human spirit is, and how astounding.

Top: Marilynne Robinson, Middle: Bharati Mukherjee, Bottom: Aleksandar Hemon

The National Book Critics Circle and the Chicago Tribune Celebrate NBCC Fiction Award Winners and Finalists.
(Jane Ciabattari, Marilynne Robinson, Aleksandar Hemon, Bharati Mukherjee, Elizabeth Taylor) The National Book Critics Circle and the Chicago Tribune host a fiction reading by National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists Marilynne Robinson (Winner for Gilead), Bharati Mukherjee (Winner for The Middleman & Other Stories), and Aleksandar Hemon (finalist for Nowhere Man). Hosted by NBCC President Jane Ciabattari, welcome by Elizabeth Taylor, Literary Editor, Chicago Tribune.

Top to Bottom: Ada Limon, Wayne Miller, Alex Lemon, Eireann Lorsung, Melissa Kwasny

Milkweed Editions Poetry Reading. (Wayne Miller, Eireann Lorsung, Alex Lemon, Melissa Kwasny, Ada Limon, James Cihlar) This reading features new work by five distinctive poets—Ada Limon, Melissa Kwasny, Alex Lemon, Eireann Lorsung, and Wayne Miller—all recently published by Milkweed Editions, one of the largest literary nonprofit publishers in the country. Commemorating Milkweed's twenty-fifth anniversary as a book publisher, this event is an exciting opportunity to discover innovative work. Moderated by Wayne Miller, author of The Book of Props and editor of Pleaides.

More AWP here.

Still, so much, so overwhelmed. Spent too much time (and indeed, too much money) in the booths, more thick essays on poetry books. Went to four panels back-to-back and now I know what they meant, those giving advice to us first-years, about pacing and spacing and breathing. I'm thinking about what it means to really push in poetry, but also about self-confidence, and self-awareness, and giving yourself the freedom. (How is it that entrance into an MFA program has riddled me with so much self doubt?) Thinking about Marie Ponsot and how she said that noticing things is the cure for boredom. Thinking about cracking open language and all the slim volumes I have now, in translation, and especially of Valzhyna Mort's work. Thinking about a context for my own work, a context for myself, but mostly, right now, about sleep. Wishing I didn't have to read for school tonight.


Chrissy said...

thank you for blogging this! the sessions sound amazing - especially the duty of the writer. i wish i was there, but i'm glad to get a glimpse through your blog.

shari said...

all i can say is wow. i saw valzhyna mort read in durham. loved her. and how fun to see eireann.

Nikkita said...

No worries! I should have said Nikkita...I am usually Nikkita when I write my name out, but almost never when I say it out loud. But I am happy to see these photos here and glad you are enjoying yourself. I'll be at Myopic tonight if you'll be there.

Eireann said...

I think everyone goes through the self-doubt stuff at the beginning of the MFA (even the first two years). It's normal and it's useful (even though it is crappy while you're in it).