AWP 2010 Annual Conference Scheduled

The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) 2010 Annual Conference and Bookfair is scheduled for April 7-10. With over 70 sponsors and more than 400 events, including readings, lectures, panel discussions, receptions, book signings, and informal gatherings, the conference is billed as “one of the biggest and liveliest literary gatherings in North America.” The keynote address will be delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Chabon, author of Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

This year’s conference will be held in Denver, Colorado. Every year the conference finds a new home in the U.S., in an effort to celebrate regional authors, educators, literary programs, and small presses. Future AWP conferences are scheduled for Washington D.C., Chicago, and Boston.

The AWP encourages all its varied participants to “join the big literary conversation.” More than 40 featured readings are scheduled, including former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove; Yale professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander; writer Steve Almond; Sapphire, the author of Push, which was adapted as the critically acclaimed film Precious; and environmentalist writer Terry Tempest Williams. Tributes will honor several writers, such as Madeline DeFrees, a poet and former nun; leading Native American scholar Vine Deloria Jr.; and Mahmoud Darwish, whose poetry is described as “an indisputable testimony to the catastrophe of the Palestinian people.”

The numerous sponsors of the conference represent educational institutions and writing programs around the U.S., including the NYU Creative Writing Program, Emerson College, Texas Tech University, the University of New Orleans, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and the University of Denver. Additional sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses/Small Press Distribution, and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

One sponsor is Naropa University’s department of Writing and Poetics—the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Founded by Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974, the school has widely published faculty, students, and alumni. Junior Burke, chair of Writing and Poetics, thinks that the Kerouac School’s alternative approach “challenges other programs to be more provocative and progressive, to see the standards associated with creative writing not as static, but energetic, fluid, and constantly evolving.” With its increased involvement in this year’s AWP conference—one of the biggest literary conventions in North America—the Kerouac School anticipates broadening its voice within a larger academic and writing community.

The Kerouac School is sponsoring more than a dozen discussions and events at the AWP conference, including a faculty reading and book signing, as well as a roundtable engaging Naropa University poets, titled “And the Beat Goes On…” The conference also features a reading by Anne Waldman and eco-poet and political activist Gary Snyder, sponsored by the University of Denver.