It’s that time of year again, where writers young and old, from all corners of the country, come to congregate in one gigantic, frenetic, neurotic, alcohol-infused crowd, in a couple of fancy hotels no one can really afford, to stay in and talk shop (or not, depending on how your writing’s been this year). That’s right: AWP 2015, Minneapolis. We took a look at the schedule and picked out some upcoming panels and events that sound especially promising for writers (and readers) of short fiction.
(Keep in mind, these are just suggestions. If, at any moment, you are feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, there’s always a spot for you at the bar. Well, actually, the bar is probably crowded and overpriced, which is why we strongly recommend carrying a flask.)
Without further ado, This Week in Short Fiction’s Guide to AWP.
Thursday 9:00-10:15 a.m.
If you’re looking for some secret tips from people who have true social media game, you should probably hit up this panel with Rumpus alum and Buzzfeeder extraordinaire Isaac Fitzgerald, Joshua Mohr, Meghan Ward, and others.
Teach a writing workshop and wonder about just how honest/critical you should be in your feedback? Writers with differing philosophies on the matter hash it out on this panel, where you can hear from a panel including Peter Ho Davies, V.V. Ganeshananthan, and Jeffrey Schultz.
Thursday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
This has the makings of one of the most power-packed panels of short fiction readings goings. You’ll get to hear a story from Claire Vaye Watkins’s Battleborn, Diane Cook’s Man V. Nature, and Ben Stroud’s Byzantium, among others. This might be one to arrive early for, if you can.
Thursday 12:00-1:15 p.m.
Consider this panel the booster shot you need to unleash some nasty characters in your stories. Among others, you’ll have the expertise of Skip Horack, Susan Steinberg, and Christian Kiefer to help you make your deviant plans.
The foundation created to honor Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright has brought together an inspiring round of readers from their workshops: Tayari Jones, Ravi Howard, Marita Golden, and Abdul Ali.
Thursday 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Oh wow. What’s this? Oh nothing. Just another amazing reading by fictioners. See Peter Orner, Danielle Evans, and Keith Lee Morris. Please.
Thursday 3:00-4:15 p.m.
Thursday 4:30-5:45 p.m.
Probably no one could offer advice on this matter better than our own Rumpus founder, Stephen Elliott, joined in conversation with Tara McKelvey and Ada Calhoun.[Insert Happy Hour.]
Thursday 8:30-10:00 p.m.
If you can tear yourself away from reuniting with old friends and signing your next book deal, you probably should try to make this year’s keynote, given by the woman who brought us Swamplandia! and the rockstar collection St. Lucy’s Homes for Girls Raised by Wolves.
Friday 9:00-10:15 a.m.
Assuming you’re up and around at this hour, which might be a speculative act in itself, you can hear from Kate Bernheimer and Alan Michael Parker on their feelings about this nebulous genre.
If you’re serious about this thing, you can expect some good pointers in this session led by recent winners of such respected contests as the New American Fiction Prize, the Flannery O’Connor Award, and the Iowa Short Fiction Award.
Friday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Working out a tough scene and want some advice on nailing it? Go and listen to what storytelling master Richard Bausch and truth-speaking poet Roger Reeves have to say about it.
Friday 12:00-1:15 p.m.
These people know how to do it. You’ve got Jamie Quatro and LaShonda Katrice Barnett to talk about the writing side of things, and Tin House Editor Rob Spillman and Assistant Editor at Grove Atlantic Katie Raissian to talk about the business angles on it.
Need a reading to break up all the advice people are throwing at you? Let these Native American storytellers and poets take you back to the words.
We know we’re not alone in doing the Control+Find for “Cheryl Strayed” in the schedule. Here’s one of her appearances that sounds especially promising. She and other native Minnesotans read original pieces about returning to a Minnesota place fraught with memories for them.
Friday 1:30-2:45 p.m.
Learn how to write beyond stereotypes with Hyphen Magazine writers, including Karissa Chen, Eugenia Leigh, Ed Lin, Tina Bartolome, and Regie Cabico.
Friday 3:00-4:15 p.m.
Learn from supernatural/blurred reality writers Karen Russell, Kate Bernheimer, Kelly Link, and Marjorie Sandor. And possibly pick up a copy of their new anthology, The Uncanny Reader.
When you are in the land of public radio, you might as well tune into some of the most experience writers of the northern landscapes too: see Louise Erdrich and Charles Baxter.
So, generally we try to stick to made-up stories. But seriously, this here’s a panel of some stellar storytellers who’ve published with Graywolf Press: Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Maggie Nelson, and Claudia Rankine, to be exact.
If you’re feeling a little down after your past 36 hours of spending time with no one else but writers, allow Roxane Gay, Rebecca Makkai, and Dean Bakopoulos to bring you back up.
We go to the poets for the pretty words, to be held for beautiful moments, and to be lifted up somewhere beyond ourselves. Pretty sure these folks can do all of that: Jenny Johnson, TJ Jarrett, and Ocean Vuong.
Friday 8:30-10:00 p.m.
Could you imagine Dybek and Prose just reading and chatting together? Ah man. If you miss this one, we’re might have to punch you.
Saturday 9:00-10:15 a.m.
This one sounds super promising and inspiring, though there’s a chance that everyone will just look around the room and empathize with the person who looks most hungover and sleep-deprived.
Saturday 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Need a way to your latest Netflix binge into your writing curriculum? Tom Franklin and Alissa Nutting are here to help.
Also on the teaching front, if you have some out-of-control young writers throwing around bad ideas about other people, Danielle Evans, Alexander Chee, Jennine Capó Crucet, and some of their buddies are on the scene to help.
12:00 noon[Have you visited us at the bookfair? No? Now is like the best time to go because nobody wants to ship books back home, so you can expect some super sales. Everything. Must. Go!]
National Book Award winner Phil Klay will be speaking, along with Katey Schultz and Siobhan Fallon and others.
How many panels have you been to by now? The answer may be blowing in the wind, but this poetic tribute to Bob Dylan featuring Dessa and others promises to take you somewhere else for a minute.
Or, maybe this sounds better? Ruben Quesada, Benjamin Garcia, and Pablo Miguel Martinez have some poems for you.
[Insert Last Big Happy Hour]
And then we came to the end. If you’re still standing, try to stagger in for this one. Sounds like a great chat to eavesdrop on.