#AWP17 Preview

Tayler Lord is a publicist at UNP. You can follow her on Twitter for #AWP17 updates and probably a lot of tweets about Beyoncé and her unborn twins. 

Guys, I’m so excited for the 2017 AWP Conference. This conference, hosted by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), is one of the biggest in the writing world. When I first learned I was going to AWP back in July, I knew it was a big deal. But I didn’t know how big the conference would be for me until the list of speakers and presenters was released. Right there, in the first row of featured presenters’ headshots, I saw someone I consider the most important writer of our time: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I couldn’t believe that I was lucky enough to have a job that would send me to a place where Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, Half of a Yellow Sun, and the ever-significant essay We Should All Be Feminists, would also be! Somebody pinch me!

Aside from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, there are a number of incredible authors, poets, editors, and essayists attending and speaking this week’s conference. I’ve probably spent too much time poring over the extensive schedule, making note of familiar names and interesting-sounding panels. Of course, one that particularly peaked my interest is UNP’s own panel, Celebrating 15 Years of American Lives: A University of Nebraska Press Reading with Joey Franklin, John W. Evans, Sonja Livingston, Barrie Jean Borich, and Joy Castro on Thursday, February 9 at 3 p.m.

I won’t list everything I’m excited about because I would just end up repeating the entire schedule. I’ll just share the five (okay ten, fifteen max) panels, readings, and events that I’m most looking forward to.

  • Which Comes First, Activism or Artist with African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) poet Ladan Osman and one of my favorite slam poets, Joshua Bennett
  • Not Just Novelists: On Publishing Contemporary African Poets with APBF poets Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Tsitsi Jaji, and Mukoma wa Ngugi
  • Write Your Memoir like a Novel with Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
  • Don’t Stop the Presses: On the Enduring Value of the University Press, because without panels like this I would be out of a job
  • We All Have to Start Somewhere: How Bad Writing Gets Good with Nick Flynn, author of the amazing memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
  • Since we have such an extensive Native American and Indigenous Studies list, I’m intrigued by Literary Fascination: What Happens When Non-Native American Writers Write About Native Americans
  • Writing as Refugees: Collective Trauma & Impossible Return, a timely panel featuring APBF poet Safia Elhillo
  • American Smooth: A Tribute to Rita Dove, featuring US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey and a reading by poet Rita Dove herself (who also happens to be a US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize Winner)
  • Going There: Writing the Complicated Truth in the World’s Hot Spots featuring Brit Bennett, author of last year’s critically acclaimed debut novel The Mothers
  • 90 Years and Counting: A Reading Celebrating Prairie Schooner featuring poets Brian Turner and Safiya Sinclair
  • I can’t believe I’ll get to witness this one: A Reading and Conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Writing With and About Dis/Ability, Dis/Order, and Dis/Ease featuring Sonya Huber

You can see the full schedule of events here.

Along with all of these panels and speakers, there’s a bookfair happening throughout the conference! I’ll be at booth 555 with acquiring editor Alicia Christensen and a whole lot of books. We’ll also have in-booth author signings on Friday and Saturday with B.J. Hollars, John W. Evans, Mark Spitzer, Denise Low, and Sonya Huber.

So if you’re at AWP this weekend, stop by the UNP booth to say hi and browse our wonderful selection of books!