The Rumpus Guide to AWP 2020


AWP is almost upon us!

Next week, over 12,000 attendees—writers, editors, publishers, teachers, students, and book lovers—will descend upon San Antonio, TX for four days of literary madness. The conference features presentations, readings, panel discussions, craft lectures, a bookfair with over eight hundred presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the globe, and numerous offsite events and readings in the nearby area.

This is wonderful, and terribly overwhelming. The best part of AWP is being surrounded by every writer you’ve ever followed on social media. This is also the worst part; us writers are known to be alternately social and reclusive, so make sure to find yourself some quiet time.

Below, we offer a selection of panels, readings, and events that we are especially excited for. We suggest these as a starting point, along with remembering to drink a lot of water, tossing some granola bars in your tote of choice, getting some sleep, and stopping by The Rumpus bookfair table (T1834) for all your Rumpus merchandise needs, including our beloved limited-edition Dear Sugar WLAMF mug AND our limited-run matriarchy mug designed by artist Rachael Schafer!

[We will continue to update this list to remove canceled panels and events to the best of our ability. – Ed.]


Wednesday, March 4

Offsite Event: The 12th Annual Festival of Language 2020
The Cherrity Bar
302 Montana St.
San Antonio, TX 78203
4–9:15 p.m.

Thirty-three poets and writers perform flash readings from their works in a celebration of innovation, creativity, inclusion, and words. Participants include Peter Conners, Jeffrey DeShell, Johhn Domini, Andrew Farkas, Lily Hoang, Tom Hunley, Rosamond King, Lee Matalone, Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Michael Rizza, Margaret Rozga, Susan Schultz, Leona Sevick, Jessica Smith, Eric Miles Williamson, Mandy-Suzanne Wong, and Bill Yarrow. Pre-reading gathering starts at 4:30 p.m., readings begin at 5 p.m. Hosted by Ted Pelton.

Offsite Event: Monster Mags of the Midwest 2020
The Amp Room
2407 N. St. Mary’s St.
San Antonio, Texas 78212
6–8 p.m.

Monster Mags returns! Featured readers include Su Cho, Siân Griffiths, Rochelle Hurt, Jameelah Lang, Rainie Oet, Ira Sukrungruang, and Jenny Tinghui Zhang!

Offsite Event: Neon Lit Alumni Reading at AWP
The Twig Book Shop
306 Pearl Pkwy, #106
San Antonio, Texas 78215
7–9 p.m.

Join Neon Lit for an alumni reading featuring Marianne Chan, Olivia Clare, Dylan Fisher, Heather Lang-Cassera, Sarah Kokernot, Juan Martinez, Lorinda Toledo, and Wendy Wimmer. Hosted by Dayneé Alejandra Rosales. There will be raffles and prizes!

Thursday, March 5

Havoc and Healing: Intersections of Creative Writing and Science
Room 006A, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
9–10:15 a.m.

Health care and literature have a long history of interconnection—William Carlos Williams famously delivered babies and wrote poems on prescription pads. What can writers learn from scientists and vice versa? What do literary craft and clinical practice have in common? How are biomedical and literary ethics related? In this panel, two physicians, a clinical pharmacist, a biomedical researcher, and a former medical editor discuss how their biomedical work troubles and informs their writing.

Panelists include Hadara Bar-Nadav, Ruth Madievsky, Dr. Irène P. Mathieu, Joseph Osmundson, and Seema Yasmin.

Dear America Part 1, Presented by Trinity University Press and
The University of Texas at Austin Stage, Exhibit Halls 3-4, Henry B. González Convention Center
12:10–1:25 p.m.

Trinity University Press and present Dear America. America is at a crossroads. Conflicting political and social perspectives reflect a need to collectively define our moral imperatives, clarify cultural values, and inspire meaningful change. In that patriotic spirit, hundreds of writers, artists, scientists, and political and community leaders have come together since the 2016 presidential election to offer their impassioned letters to America, in a project envisioned by the online journal and collected in Dear America: Letters of Hope, Habitat, Defiance, and Democracy. Moderated by editors Simmons Buntin, Elizabeth Dodd, and Derek Sheffield with readings by contributors Alison Hawthorne Deming, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jericho Brown, and Camille T. Dungy.

From First Book Deal to Career as Author: How to Navigate the Publishing World
Room 301, Henry B. González Convention Center, Ballroom Level
12:10–1:25 p.m.

There’s a large gap in between being published to developing a career as an author. After you get a book deal, what are dos and don’ts while working with an editor? What’s the role of your agent then? Do you need a website? Should you hire an independent publicist? What can you do to help your book succeed? How do you give a great reading? What’s the difference between publicity and marketing? How do you develop a career as an author? Four seasoned authors and one executive editor offer advice.

Panelists include Barbara Jones, Mitchell S. Jackson, Jean Kwok, Rebecca Makkai, and Courtney Maum.

Glory, Gripes, and Guile: The Ethics of Reviewing
Room 006C, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
1:45–3 p.m.

What is the value of literary reviewing, and what care is necessary when critically handing another writer’s work? How does one enter into the business of reviewing, and is it a business, at all? In this panel, a diverse group of reviewers, editors, and writers from a variety of genres discuss the risk and reward of this type of textual engagement, with a specific focus on future possibilities for more transparent and ethical reviewing.

Panelists include Leora Fridman, Caroline Crew, Chelsea Leu, and Ismail Muhammad.

Five Writers Walk into a Bar: Using Humor in Fiction
Room 301, Henry B. González Convention Center, Ballroom Level
1:45–3 p.m.

Humor is an effective tool for communicating shared truths about the human experience in an accessible way. But too much humor, especially in literary works, can quickly feel heavy-handed or counterproductive. The best writers of funny fiction balance levity with poignancy, the absurd with the humane. Our panel will examine a range of literary texts that use humor effectively and discuss strategies and exercises to hone our abilities to identify what’s funny, and what’s extraneous, in our work.

Panelists include Cara Blue Adams, Kristen Arnett, Jennine Capó Crucet, Danielle Evans, and Courtney Maum.

Literary Impostordom: Do I Deserve to Be in This Room?
Room 007A, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
3:20–4:35 p.m.

Five writers discuss practical ways they work through impostor syndrome, from submitting work to living up to hype. Impostor syndrome, the conviction that we’re uniquely untalented, underqualified, and undeserving, afflicts students, authors, editors, and teachers. We’ll discuss confidence and belonging as cultural, political topics in the face of all-too-real barriers, and our visions for truly welcoming, sustaining literary communities. Our survival and success require it.

Panelists include Elisa M. Gonzalez, Minda Honey, Alison Kinney, Marisa Siegel, and Rafia Zakaria.

Offsite Event: The Horizon Is Not a Border
La Botanica
2911 N. St. Mary’s St.
San Antonio, TX 78212
7–9 p.m.

Please join Foglifter for The Horizon Is Not a Border, curated by Raquel Gutiérrez, and featuring readings from Andrea Abi-Karam, Destiny O. Birdsong, Celeste Chan, Òscar Moisés Díaz, T Fleischmann, Joe Jiménez, Willie Kinard III, Zefyr Lisowski, Saretta Morgan, Patrick Mullen-Coyoy, Gala Mukomolova, Jordan Nakamura, Soham Patel, Raquel Salas Rivera, Jake Skeets, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, and more!

Offsite Event: A Switchback Books/Ricochet Editions/Jellyfish Magazine Reading
SoHo Wine & Martini Bar
214 W. Crockett St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
7–10 p.m.

An evening of small press goodness featuring readings by authors from Switchback Books, Octopus Books, Ricochet Editions, and Jellyfish Magazine! Readers will include Cynthia Arrieu-King, Caroline Cabrera, Kristen Case, M.J. Gette, Jessica Guzman, Stefania Heim, Noor Hindi, Becca Klaver, Alyse Knorr, Irène P. Mathieu, Lo Kwa Mei-en, Danielle Pafunda, Caitlin Scarano, Dennis James Sweeney, Stephen van Dyck, and David Wojciechowski.

Offsite Event: Baby-Sitters Club Reading
Blue Star Brewing Co.
1414 S. Alamo St., #105
San Antonio, TX 78210
7–10 p.m.

This offsite reading features twelve poets with new books that address the sticky truths of parenthood. Readers include James Arthur, Traci Brimhall, Nicole Callihan, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Chelsea Dingman, Sonia Greenfield, Rachel Neve Midbar, Abby E. Murray, Oliver de la Paz, Molly Spencer, Matthew Zapruder, and Rachel Zucker.

Offsite Event: MOB the OCHO: An AWP ’20 Poetry Offsite
Ocho @ The Havana Hotel
1015 Navarro St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
7–10 p.m.

MOB the OCHO is a star-studded poetry reading sponsored by the Adroit Journal, the American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, the Missouri Review, and Pleiades. Featuring Ruth Awad, Taneum Brambrick, Kaveh Bassiri, Michael Bassett, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Bruce Bond, Jericho Brown, Victoria Chang, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Franny Choi, Tyree Daye, Toi Derricotte, Diane Glancy, Matty Layne Glasgow, Alicia Mountain, Marilyn Nelson, Katie Pierce, Brenda Shaughnessy, Maggie Smith, Talin Tahajian, and T.C. Tolbert! Free drink for the first one hundred guests. Doors open at 7 p.m., readings begin at 8 p.m.

Offsite Event: [PANK] AWP Reading Party
Carmens De La Calle Cafe
320 N. Flores St.
San Antonio, TX 78205
9:30–11:30 p.m.

Join [PANK] and Hayden’s Ferry Review for a reading featuring J’Lyn Chapman, Shira Dentz, Monica Prince, Melissa Ragsly, and more!


Friday, March 6

Catastrophe and Survival: Women Ecopoets Navigate Pathways Past Denials
Room 217D, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
9–10:15 a.m.

As we spin toward global crisis, climate-change deniers occupy our highest government positions. Despite #MeToo, the 2016 election and the 2018 Kavanaugh hearings revealed public acceptance of misogynist behavior and reluctance to believe women’s testimony persists. Five women ecopoets will discuss how—in this moment of silencing, violence, and disappearance—their work balances aesthetic and activist concerns, navigating personal and global crisis without abandoning wonder for word and world.

Panelists include Elizabeth Bradfield, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Camille T. Dungy, Brenda Hillman, and Sandra Meek.

In Defense of Navel-Gazing: Writing Trauma as a Political Act
Room 007B, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
10:35–11:50 a.m.

Confessional, therapeutic, cathartic: words attributed to writing about trauma, often to disregard or deride the writing, and to separate it from serious literary work. Five writers, editors, and educators who write about trauma across genres and identities discuss who is served by minimizing such writing, why different kinds of trauma are thought to be more or less acceptable literary material, and what could happen if the literary establishment is forced to take such writing seriously.

Panelists include Katharine Coldiron, Kristi Coulter, Danielle Evans, Marissa Korbel, and Alysia Sawchyn.

The City as Indigenous Place: Beneath, Between, and Beyond the Urban in Native Art
Room 214B, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
10:35–11:50 a.m.

For Indigenous people living in cities, urban life is layered, existing before and after, between and beyond, cognizant of and resisting, the colonial maps and settlerscapes of the metropolis. Mining municipal memory, womanist/queer/trans Indigenous Pacific, Native North American, and Palestinian writers, editors, publishers, and visual/sound/performance artists dismantle and reassemble the building blocks of burghal narratives as understood in the cities of Oceania, Palestine, and the Américas.

Panelists include Rasha Abdulhadi, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, ku’ualoha ho’omanawanui, Lisa Suhair Majaj, and Micaela Kaibni Raen.

The Other on the Mic
Room 008, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
3:20–4:35 p.m.

While America is still gravely divided, in both a political sense and a fracturing of media, more and more women, people of color, and queer writers are podcasting to claim their space in the literary world. A diverse panel of podcast hosts will discuss their shows and what they add to the literary landscape. These fearless podcast hosts will illustrate what it means to have Us not just “represented,” but in charge, crafting our own narratives on books and culture.

Panelists include celeste doaks, Anthony Moll, Joseph Osmundson, and Rachel Zucker.

How to Do Your Debut Author Year
Room 305, Henry B. González Convention Center, Ballroom Level
3:20–4:35 p.m.

Both thrilling and bewildering, your first book’s publication year is a crash course in the hustle, strategy, and luck it takes to launch a writing career. In this high-pressure period, how do you best advocate for your book, connect to potential readers, and maintain your sanity? The five 2019 debuts on this panel discuss the professional, creative, and emotional impacts of transitioning from “writer” to “author,” and share practical advice for navigating your own debut.

Panelists include Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Angie Kim, T Kira Madden, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, and Xuan Juliana Wang.

Offsite Event: New Futures: Apogee x Offing
The Cherrity Bar
302 Montana St.
San Antonio, Texas 78203
6–8 p.m.

2020 is The Offing’s fifth birthday and Apogee’s ten-year anniversary! Come celebrate with six authors (all joint contributors) who are writing what’s possible for literatures to come. Featuring readings from Quenton Baker, S. Brook Corfman, Claudia Cortese, Swati Khurana, Ploi Pirapokin, and Raquel Salas Rivera.


Saturday, March 7

We Are Who We’ve Been Waiting For: Writers of Color Talk Peer Mentorship
Room 217B, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
10:35–11:50 a.m.

Multigenre writers and editors of color discuss the importance of peer mentors: fellow writers at similar career stages who can offer support, encouragement, and access to valuable resources in the absence (or unavailability) of traditional mentorships, such as those forged between teachers and students in MFA and PhD programs. Panelists will individually discuss their experiences with peer mentors, followed by a roundtable discussion and Q&A.

Panelists include Destiny Birdsong, Claire Jimenez, Donika Kelly, Maya Marshall, and Natasha Oladokun.

The Master’s Tools: Singaporean Novelists on Writing in the Colonizer’s Language
Room 006D, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level
12:10–1:25 p.m.

Singapore has a rich history of literature in Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and other Asian languages; English-language literary production began to flourish after independence in the 1960s, and has since come to dominate the scene. Yet as in other postcolonial states, anglophone Singaporean writers cannot ignore the politics inherent in their elevation, especially as other language communities grow more marginalized. How far is it possible to reclaim the language of one’s colonizer, and at what cost?

Panelists include Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, Rachel Heng, and Jeremy Tiang.

The Overshare: Navigating Public and Private Identities in the Writing Classroom
Room 217A, Henry B. González Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
3:20–4:35 p.m.

What happens when you run into your students on a nude beach, when they read your addiction memoir, or your sexy and queer autobiographical poems? This panel has a twofold focus: how to support students who are prone to overshare (and decide if you are a mandated reporter) and to help navigate who we are as professors in control of a classroom and a grade and as whole complex people. In the age of insta-google how do you maintain your identities and mental health?

Panelists include Curtis Bauer, Melissa Febos, Syreeta McFadden, Juan J. Morales, and Olivia Worden.

Offsite Event: Speculative Nonfiction, Sweet, and Bellingham Review: AWP Reading
Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co.
1902 S Flores St.
San Antonio, TX 78204
6–7:30 p.m.

LET’S GET REAL-ISH. Join Speculative Nonfiction, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and Bellingham Review for an AWP 2020 offsite event featuring readings from Barrie Jean Borich, Sayantani DasGupta, Joanna Eleftheriou, Lina M. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas, Ander Monson, Sean Prentiss, Alysia Sawchyn, and Loré Yessuff.