Wednesday, February 9, 2011

AWP Conference Highlights

Last weekend I was thrilled to have an all-access pass to the 2011 AWP Conference (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) here in DC. With a badge and notebook in hand for coverage, I trekked over to the Wardman Park Hotel on a beautiful afternoon with no idea what to expect. Little did I know that I would find an unbelievable wealth of resources, information, unique experiences about writing, and extraordinary talent, all in one amazing display of writers over an incredible weekend of events.

One major highlight of the conference was the panel celebrating 35 years of the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship at GWU. Poet and professor Greg Pardlo introduced the panel, which also included Prof. Faye Moskowitz, president of the fellowship and founder of the Jewish Literature Live author series; Prof. Jane Shore, poet and recipient of the Jenny McKean Moore scholarship in 1989-1990; Honor Moore, poet and daughter of the late Jenny McKean Moore; and Prof. Thomas Mallon, director of the Creative Writing Program at GW. 

Prof.  Pardlo introducing a panel celebrating the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship at GWU.

The panelists engaged in an open discussion about the life and legacy of Moore, a writer, activist and "vibrant woman, who found a place in your consciousness and settles in," according to Prof. Moskowitz. Also on the panel were former JMM fellows Ed Skoog, a poet, and novelist Tayari Jones. Following the event, there was a great reception at the hotel's Stone's Throw restaurant.

Dept. Office Manager Constance Kibler, JMM Fellow Tilar Mazzeo, and Prof. David McAleavey.

With forums, readings, a book fair, and exclusive author events, it was almost overwhelming how much there was to do. GW had a great booth in the book fair, with new brochures and information about the Creative Writing program!
 
We distributed these beautiful new brochures at the conference.
I was so impressed with the events on Friday, I brought two friends with me from GW on Saturday for an amazing reading and conversation with Amy Hempel and Gary Shteyngart. Hempel, a professor at Harvard University and Bennington College and recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Artists Foundation, and the Academy of Arts and Letters, read from three of her short stories, beautiful accounts of the interaction between humans and animals. An animated Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan, both national bestsellers, read from his newest book. The lively discussion and readings were followed by a talk by our very own Tom Mallon.

I could go on and on about the conference- it truly was a phenomenal experience. I'll definitely be making plans to attend next year!

- Paula

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