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LGBTQ Panels at AWP 2021

LGBTQ Panels at AWP 2021

Author: Edit Team

March 1, 2021

A reimagined virtual Association of Writers & Writing Programs Annual Conference and Bookfair (AWP) is just around the corner (March 3-7). With an average of around 550 “readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums” AWP is the largest literary conference in North America. Please note, in order to attend to a panel, you need to pre-register.

Below is a list of LGBTQ happenings to choose from. Thanks to the LGBTQ Writers Caucus for pulling this list together. The AWP 21 queer panels are sorted by the following three categories:

  • Writing Process
  • Publishing
  • Pedagogy/Education

Have a question or comment for the LGBTQ Writers Caucus leadership team? Email

LGBTQ Writers Caucus Meeting

Thursday, March 4 

6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Central Time

LGBTQ Caucus.

(Eduardo Ballestero, Mary Ann Thomas, Lisa Marie Brimmer, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Alan Lessik, K. Ka`imilani Leota Sellers )

The LGBTQ Writers Caucus provides a space for writers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer to network and discuss common issues and challenges, such as representation and visibility on and off the literary page and how to incorporate personal identity into professional and academic lives. The Caucus also strives to discuss, develop, and increase queer representation for future AWP conferences and serves as a supportive community and resource for its members. This meeting will be held over Zoom; AWP registration is not necessary.

Writing Process

Wednesday, March 3

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central Time

W139. Writers—of Color, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, LGBTQ—Confront the Holocaust.

(Ellen Bass, Jacqueline Osherow, Sara Lippmann, Howard Debs, Geoffrey Philp)

The book New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust is groundbreaking. It uniquely juxtaposes preserved visual artifacts (vintage photos, propaganda posters, etc.) selected from noted collections with newly written work from poets, essayists, short story and flash fiction writers. Panelists will read from their work and discuss how they rendered an interpretive voice to the “silent witnesses” from that time, focusing on the lessons for all humanity.

Thursday, March 4

12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Central Time

T121. Celebrating John Crawford and West End Press.

(Ellen Smith, Ebony Isis Booth, Julie Parson Nesbitt, Naomi Quinonez)

This diverse group of West End Press authors will discuss, honor and celebrate the literary contributions made by editor and publisher John Crawford, who died in 2019. For more than 44 years, West End published working class, Native, Latinx, Black, and queer authors—from major names to emerging writers. The authors here represent a cross-section of that catalogue. Participants will also read their own work and work by other West End writers.

T124. Hybrid Jewish American Poetry, An Intersectional Reading.

(Joshua Gottlieb-Miller, Allison Pitinii Davis, Rosebud Ben-Oni, E.G. Asher, Tom Haviv)

This reading explores how Jewish poetics can contribute to intersectional conversations. Using experimental and multimodal forms driven by visuals, intertextuality, and hybridity, these poets examine interfaith and interracial identity, queerness, and working-class culture. Thematic and formal hybridity allows these poets to decenter hegemonic Jewish American narratives by investigating the margins of experience and aesthetics to build solidarity across cultures.

T125. (R)Evolution: Cuban American Novelists on Writing Political Upheaval.

(Alejandro Nodarse, Achy Obejas, Chantel Acevedo)

This panel gathers five Cuban American novelists whose work responds to—and is forged by—various forms of political upheaval. When faced with the challenge of confronting political moments fraught with anti-immigrant sentiment, homophobia, and violent nationalism, we can look to the work of Cuban American writers for examples of how writing can function as a tool of resistance. Panelists will discuss the ways in which their work serves as a form of protest, social dissent, and bearing witness.

5:20 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. Central Time

T149. Latinx Writers in the Midwest.

(José Faus, Huascar Medina, Deanna Muñoz, MG Salazar)

This panel of Latinx creatives represents over 25 years of literary efforts in Kansas City. With over 20 books, chapbooks, and anthologies between them, these leaders carved out a space to foster and showcase Latinx voices, including farmworker youth, undocumented youth, and the LGBTQ community. Panelists, including the Kansas Poet Laureate, an arts CEO, and three poets, will explore the dynamics of forming a Latinx creative community in a mid-sized city and detail how to replicate their success.

Friday, March 5

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central Time

F108. The Craft We Didn’t Learn: Retroactive Writing Advice from the Archives.

(Kendra Sullivan, Iris Cushing, Zohra Saed, Megan Paslawski)

Lost & Found publishes works unearthed from personal and institutional archives in the United
States and abroad. Focusing on literary recovery necessarily centers writers marginalized
race, class, gender, and sexuality as well as artistic vision. It also shows us that losing texts
means losing their authors’ contributions to discussions about craft. This panel introduces lost
craft inspiration from L&F writers ranging from Langston Hughes’ Turkmenistan influences to
Lucia Berlin’s letters.

11:10 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. Central Time

F118. Witness at a Distance.

(Stephen Kuusisto, Andy Smart, Randall Horton, Lisa Allen, Quintin Collins)

Now, especially, while millions of us shelter in place, witnessing takes on a new meaning. How do we engage truth—on a personal or societal level—as it relates to events we observed from afar? As artists, how do we bridge the gap between “I witness” and “eyewitness”? During this panel, we discuss social issues such as racial inequality, criminal justice reform, LGBTQIA+ rights, ableism, and the deliberate dissemination of misinformation.

5:20 to 6:20 p.m. Central Time

F145. Beyond the Brady Bunch: Reinventing the Poem of the American Family.

(Geffrey Davis, Keetje Kuipers, Erika Meitner, Oliver de la Paz, Blas Falconer)

While poets have long delved into the complications of rendering family on the page, it can be challenging to navigate poems in the vein of parental devotion or childhood trauma when our families break the traditional mold. Whether caring for aging parents or raising kids, these narratives remain utterly familiar while their specifics—queer parents, neurodiverse children, transracial adoption—have never felt so varied. How do we find new ways to write the new families so many of us belong to?

Saturday, March 6

11:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Central Time

S116. Queering the Essay/Queer Essayists Consider Genre.

(Jenny Ferguson, Marcos Gonsalez, Danny Ramadan)

The essay is a queer genre, flexible and strange among its siblings, fiction, poetry, and drama. However, the essay’s roots herald back to (mostly) white, cis-het men. In this panel five queer essayists consider genre, what the essay can really do for us, and if queering the essay has anything to do with the surging popularity of the genre for BIPOC, QT2S, and other marginalized writers. We’ll talk personal, flash, and lyric essays, plus hybrids, and ultimately what it says to queer the essay.

12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Central Time

S120. A {Trans} History of Poetry.

(M. McDonough, Mud Howard, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Jay Mercado, Tere Fowler)

Queer and Trans people are gifted archivists. We have to be, otherwise, who would remember us? How would we be remembered? Often, we must dig up lineages, languages, and traditions that accurately reflect our lives—valuable cultural artifacts that were deliberately stolen or erased. In this panel, four trans poets offer their insights on how poetry and history interplay in their personal work and how in unearthing profound connections to the past, trans-poetics creates the future.

5:10 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. Central Time

S137. Give It a Name: Mental Health and the Writing Life.

(Bruce Owens Grimm, Sarah Fawn Montgomery, Katie Mullins, Paul Pedroza, Ilana Masad)

The writing life is one of solitude and struggle, and for some writers who deal with mental illness it can seem insurmountable. Panelists will discuss how identifying and naming their mental health concerns informs their work and opens avenues to successfully navigating the challenging paths towards publication and participating in literary culture. From cultivating a consistent writing practice through marketing and publicity, panelists will share their experiences with coping while working.

Sunday, March 7

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central Time

Sn119. Poem About My Rights: June Jordan Speaks, Sponsored by Copper Canyon Press.

(Michael Wiegers, Rio Cortez, Jericho Brown, Monica Sok)

“I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name / My name is my own my own my own.” A panel of poets and editors will read and discuss iconic works by June Jordan, including the electric, revolutionary “Poem About My Rights.” In her too-short career, Jordan boldly, lyrically, and overtly called out the harms caused by anti-Black police violence, sexual abuse, and heterosexism, lighting a way forward for other writers. Each poet will offer one poem of their own to honor Jordan’s literary influence.

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central Time

Sn126. Who Tells Your Story: Analyzing Appropriation in Literature and Writing.

(SJ Sindu, Octavia C. Saenz, Jiana Johnson, Andrea Saravia Pérez)

A conversation with Jiana Johnson, Zora Squish Pruitt, SJ Sindu, and Octavia C. Saenz about the effects cultural appropriation in literature and writing have had in the industry and the opportunities for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors. We will be highlighting the effects that non-BIPOC authors have when writing of second-hand experiences, as well as why queer romance should be written by queer authors. The event will be moderated by Andrea Saravia.

5:20 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. Central Time

Sn140. For the Culture: The Challenges of Being Authentic, Informed, and Unique.

(Michaeljulius Y. Idani, Okwudili Nebeolisa, Vivek Gowda, Jess Silfa, Roy Juarez)

BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and Disabled writers often face the challenge of how to represent their identities and communities on the page. They are often typecast, face expectations to only write about issues related to their identity, or be the spokesperson for an identity. This panel discussion examines how writers can anchor their voices in authentic, informed, nonperformative ways, and find the freedom to write their passions, even if they may be contrarian to expectations.


Wednesday, March 3

11:10 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. Central Time

W120. Fat & Queer: From Proposal to Publication.

(Bruce Owens Grimm, Miguel M. Morales, Tiff Joshua TJ Ferentini)

Why is the process of publishing a book so secretive? What’s it like to navigate publishing a book without an agent? And what do all the clause breakdowns in a contract really mean? Editors of the Fat & Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives share their experience, from being sought out by a publisher, to the call for submissions, and through editing, publishing, and promoting their book. Real talk about contracts, contributors, communication, and, of course, snacks.

Friday, March 5

11:10 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. Central Time

F113. Bi Writers & the Quest for Community and Audience.

(Ann Tweedy, CB Lee, Elizabeth Hall, Jan Steckel)

This panel, comprised of bi writers from different genres including poetry, creative nonfiction,
and young adult fiction, will discuss the strategies they have used to successfully build
community and find and increase audience for their work. The discussion will cover social
media groups, the use of writers’ platforms such as Goodreads, personal websites, and other

5:20 to 6:20 p.m. Central Time

F152. We’re Here, We’re Queer: LGBTQ+ Small Presses and Journals Speak Up.

(Luiza Flynn-Goodlett, Jack Kaulfus, Dena Rod)

There’s a vibrant history of LGBTQ+ writers protesting, celebrating, and finding belonging in shared creative endeavors, and today’s most urgent, celebrated writing is emerging from small queer presses and journals. Editors at these presses detail the joys and struggles of dedicating a venture to queer work and queer authors; share their journey of starting or growing a queer literary organization; and encourage the audience to similarly devote themselves to the queer literary community.


Friday, March 5

10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central Time

F102. Queer Is as Queer Does: Enacting Queer Pedagogy in the Writing Classroom.

(Jen Sammons, Ames Hawkins, Samuel Autman, Violet Defiant Livingston)

What does it mean to queer the writing classroom and why does it matter? Building on inclusive pedagogical approaches, this multigenre, diverse panel of Midwest educators considers what queering looks like/sounds like/feels like in our own pedagogy and invites participants into a collaborative conversation about queering form and content in the transgenre creative writing classroom. Join us as we demonstrate, explore, construct, and co-create queer pedagogy.

12:20 p.m. to 1:20 p.m. Central Time

F126. Reworking the Workshop: Changing Dynamics for a Diverse Classroom.

(Alexandra Teague, Sean Hill, Prageeta Sharma, Divya Victor, C Marie Fuhrman)

Professors and students spend hours in workshops, often using the classic model of the silent writer who listens. How does this model, and even taxonomies such as “essay” versus “story,” privilege dominant power structures? How can poetry and prose workshops serve writers who are indigenous, of color, multilingual, and/or women and LGBTQ+ when workshop themselves often reinforce their silence? Professors and a recent grad consider ways to better serve complex communities and diverse voices.

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