I leave for New York obnoxiously early on Thursday (though the obnoxiousness is alleviated a little by my friend JG, who is allowing me and HB to stay with her the night before, so we don’t have to leave our northern Palm Beach County homes at 4:00 am to drive to Ft. Lauderdale (or rather, so our husbands don’t have to leave at 4:00 am to drive us to Ft. Lauderdale)). But even with this alleviation, we’re leaving too early in the morning for my liking.
I’ve been perusing the conference website and am excited about so many of the panels. In addition to readings at the Bowery, checking out Kerouac’s scroll at the New York Public Library (probably the most important item on my list), free Friday night’s at MOMA, a specialty pen store 12 minutes from my hotel (thanks mapquest), eating and drinking (as much as my budget will allow), I hope to attend some of these panels:
An Alternative to Teaching: Preparing MFA Students to Work in Nonprofit Arts Agencies (A Case Study). (Charles Jensen, Aimée Baker, Meghan Brinson, Beth Staples, Matthew Brennan, John Young) With so many burgeoning MFA programs churning out more students than ever before, it is even more critical for these new professionals to consider viable and rewarding alternatives to tenure-track teaching careers. Work in the nonprofit sector, through arts agencies, writing centers, and the like, can offer writers a different kind of refuge from the demands of corporate alternatives, and the skills developed in these roles can be transferred into major leadership opportunities in the arts sector. The Piper Center for Creative Writing has grown its MFA graduate assistantship program into a distinctive training ground for these future arts leaders, whose skills and experience will separate them from their peers upon graduation. Working in areas of literary program development and oversight, research, event planning, and management, our students have become invaluable partners in our success. (I am very interested in this panel considering I have no plans to stay in academia).
Listen to This! (Nick Twemlow, Kenneth Goldsmith, Matt O’Donnell, Curtis Fox, Don Share) Take an audio tour of four major audio poetry archives: The Harvard Poetry Room, poetryfoundation.org, From The Fishouse, and UbuWeb. Their curators will play back, mix, and sample from their collections. You’ll learn about how to access historic recordings, best practices for archiving audio, what makes a great poetry podcast, and how to get work added and featured in their archives and podcasts.
Show and Tell: Collaborations of the Verbal and Visual. (Marsha Norman, Christopher Durang, Jules Feiffer, Meg Wolitzer) Stony Brook Southampton’s literary magazine, The Southampton Review, presents four writers who work in a range of media, from film and theater to novels and cartoons. Panelists show and tell as they consider how each medium creates unique opportunities for cross sensory collabroations to collaborate, how their material works differently on page than on stage or on air, and how they get the verbal and visual to play nice.
U.S. Latino Writers Speak Out: A Literary Response to the Immigration Crisis. (Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Denise Chavez, Dagoberto Gilb, Luis Urrea, Ruben Martinez) We are poets, novelists, and journalists who feel compelled to unite in a public forum to read from our work that addresses an issue that is tearing this country apart. Our literature, our books, our novels, our journalism, our poetry, our urge to write has sprung from the fact that we belong to an immigrant community in struggle. With our words, we wish to bridge the chasm between the literature we write, the writing community of which we are a part, and the country that is our home. This panel listed above is the reason I’m attending the conference, though I wouldn’t mind going to this reading (they are at the same time, dammit):
Soft Skull 15th Anniversary Reading. (Douglas Martin, David Griffith, Matthew Sharpe, Lynne Tillman, Jenny Davidson, Cristin Aptowicz) In fifteen years, Soft Skull Press has delighted, excited and enraged the American public–from eight books selected as Voice Literary Supplement Best Books of the Year, to two books identified by Ann Coulter as amongst the five most fraudulent books of the past decade. In so doing, Soft Skull has become one of the most well respected, independent publishers in the world, with books in translation throughout Europe, South America and Japan, Korea, and China. Herewith we offer several of the writers who have made us who we are, and will continue to make us who we hope to be.
Alternatives to Academia. (Melanie Moore, Russell Chamberlain, Kathleen Jesme, Vince Passaro, Michele Kotler, Bruce Morrow) Academia used to be the typical path chosen by creative writing MFAs and PhDs. These days the candidates outnumber the available tenure track positions by as much as 25:1. For degreed writers, what other options are available? Meet six writers who have found meaningful work beyond the ivory towers. These panelists work for corporations, nonprofits, and the government in the fields of consulting, management, social work, and fundraising.
Avant-Garde Latino/a Poetry. (Gabriel Gomez, Roberto Tejada, Valerie Martinez, Monica De La Torre, Maria Melendez, Francisco Aragon) The reality of a U.S. Latino/a Avant-Garde is virtually non-existent in contemporary literary discourse about “Latino/a Art” as well as across the literary spectrum. The objective of this panel, made up of Latino/a poets, critics, and publishers, is to interrogate the very terms “Avant-Garde” and “Latino/a experience” as intersecting locations of poetic practice so as to bring forth work that bears witness to our varying aesthetics as artists and thinkers.
I hope to return with stories and pictures! Whether I’ll find the time to post them is a different question (I made the clever decision of signing up for a class presentation the Wednesday following this trip, which means the weekend I would have dedicated to research and organizing will, instead, be used up in the streets of New York. This makes me a little nervous, so, to compensate, I started researching my presentation topic this past weekend, and will probably continue to turn the presentation topic over in my mind as I make my way from one NY event to the next).