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Two current Lambda Literary Award Finalists—Mary Cappello and James Morrison; a previous winner of the Lambda Editor’s Choice Award—Alexander Chee; and a previous Lambda Literary Award Finalist—Barrie Jean Borich are set to participate in a panel discussion called “Writing Intimacy, Writing Sex” next week at the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing) Conference in Denver, CO. More on that below.
AWP one of the biggest and most established literary gatherings in North America featuring upwards of 8,000 visitors and over 500 publishers over the course of four days. We looked over the schedule this morning and found multiple panels and some discussions specifically related to queer books and queer authors. David Groff is planning to attend and will have a report for us next week. However, if you’re planning to travel to Denver next week, please send in your photos and commentary. In the meantime, here’s brief perusal of some of the LGBT-relevant panels taking place:
R117. Decolonial Poetics: Womanist, Indigenous, and Queer Poets of Color on the Art of Decolonization. (Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, ku’ualoha ho’omanawanui, Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, Susan Deer Cloud, Ching‐In Chen, Lisa Suhair Majaj) Many poets of color see art playing a vital role in the decolonization of our bodies, cultures, and landbases. In what ways do we use writing as an act of re‐creation, alongside other forms of activism, organizing, and spirituality, by which to undo centuries of white supremacist, capitalist, and heteropatriarchal intrusions into the workings of our communities? How does poetry serve to decolonize our lives, and how must we decolonize our poetic traditions in order to live?
R136. A Tribute to Reginald Shepherd. (Brad Richard, Robert Philen, Catherine Imbriglio, Timothy Liu, John Gallaher) Join us to celebrate the life and work of Reginald Shepherd (1963‐2008), a major poet (Some Are Drowning, Wrong, Otherhood, Fata Morgana), anthologist (The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries, Lyric Postmodernisms), and essayist/critic (Orpheus in the Bronx, A Martian Muse [forthcoming]). His brilliant lyricism, intelligence, wit, and generosity are sorely missed. Our panelists, including Shepherd’s partner, Robert Philen, will discuss his legacy as writer, editor, and friend.
R182. Narrative Cross‐Dressing: Men Writing As Women, Women Writing As Men. (Jonathan Liebson, Leni Zumas, Christopher Castellani, Deirdre Shaw) Write what you know. Young fiction writers often hear this, but most personal experience doesn’t prepare us for that unlived‐in territory of the opposite sex. Even greater is the challenge of using an opposite‐gender narrator. In this panel we’ll explore what kind of method‐acting, so to speak, writers perform to put themselves in character. We’ll look at what pitfalls they’ve faced, what opportunities, and how these characters have ended up not only credible, but unique and rewarding.
R222. Queering Desire: Queer Poets’ Aesthetic Libidos. (Jim Elledge, Jericho Brown, David Groff, Ely Shipley, Maureen Seaton, Stacey Waite) Radical, transgressive desire energizes queer poetry as often as it ghettoizes it. Yet, as queer voices grow more complex and contradictory, sweaty questions arise. If queer desire is central to earlier LBGT lit, how does it work now for an ever more diverse queer poetry? Now that queers swim in the mainstream, is it avant‐garde or passe? Is queer poetry’s desire over, over the top, or just right? In this panel, LBGT poets of different ages and aesthetics wrestle with the queer poetic libido.
F113. Writing Sex: Implicit Censorship in Contemporary Poetry. (Jan Beatty, Dorianne Laux, Aaron Smith, Wanda Coleman, Sharon Doubiago, Bruce Weigl) Four poets read their work and respond to the wasteland of sexuality represented in contemporary American poetry. Their reading and discussion sandblasts the implicit and explicit censorship on the page, in the presses, and in the academy. What is the continued cultural attachment to a lack of courage, vision, and articulation when it comes to sexuality?
F127. Translating LGBTQ Writers and Writing. (John Keene, Jen Hofer, Timothy Liu, Nathalie Stephens) This panel will examine an array of issues that arise in the process and practice of translating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) writers into English and U.S. publication of these texts. These issues include: the ongoing crisis surrounding literary translation in the U.S.; differing contexts and understandings of queer life; translation as a practice of interpretation; cross‐cultural conversation; and social activism: a gesture toward “queering” our approach to language.
F133. Happy Birthday, Paris Press: Fifteen Years of Daring and Beautiful Literature by Women! (Jan Freeman, Robin Becker, Martha Rhodes, Catherine Chung, Edita Keller) Paris Press celebrates fifteen years of publishing daring and beautiful literature by women, with a reading from Sisters: An Anthology, the Press’s most recent publication. With humor and heartbreak, rage and love, participants will read their own work as well as stories, essays, and poems by emerging and well‐known writers, including Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, Grace Paley, Ruth Jhabvala, Audre Lorde, and Muriel Rukeyser.
F156. Truth or Trash? Women Writing Memoir. (Kerry Cohen, Sue Silverman, Rachel Resnick, Melissa Febos, Meri Nana‐Ama Danquah) This panel of memoirists will explore why women’s stories—those which fill an otherwise cultural silence—are more readily labeled confessional and even trashy by some in the media and even academia. Is there a connection between our outsider voices and the frequency with which our work is judged as a lesser art form? We will also address how best to handle negative reactions we receive when we reveal our intimate stories, and how to use this reaction to even grow as writers and mentors.
F169. Gurlesque Poetry: A Reading. (Lara Glenum, Cathy Wagner, Dorthea Lasky, Danielle Pafunda, Cathy Park Hong, Elizabeth Treadwell) Five poets will read from their works as featured in Gurlesque, a new anthology of contemporary women poets and visual artists now out from Saturnalia Books. Gurlesque poets perform their femininity in a campy or overtly mocking way, drawing on burlesque performance, girly kitsch, and the female grotesque. Their often humorous work assaults the norms of acceptable female behavior by irreverently deploying gender stereotypes to subversive ends.
F199. Diva Complex: Gay Men Explore the Diversity and Meaning of Diva Worship. (Michael Montlack, David Trinidad, Paul Lisicky, Christopher Hennessy, Jeff Oaks) Inspired by their participation in the nonfiction anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, the panelists will discuss the relationships between their personal divas and the gay male urge toward diva celebration. They will discuss what that means for writers and readers, as well as for the gay community and feminism. Divas to be discussed include Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Stevie Nicks, Princess Leia, Wendy Waldman, and Wonder Woman.
S149. All‐Around Bitch: The Challenges of Writing Unlikable Female Protagonists. (Rose Bunch, Pam Houston, Elizabeth Stuckey‐French, Quinn Dalton, Laurie Foos) Writing from a male perspective provides, historically, a broader, established behavioral spectrum than female. Male characters can be self‐obsessed, duplicitous, murderous, or sexually deviant and still redeem themselves, yet female characters exhibiting these behaviors are more difficult to construct. This panel explores the challenges of writing female characters who reject the historical, social, and often institutional insistence upon passive, selfless, sacrificial women in modern fiction.
S170. Writing Intimacy, Writing Sex. (Mary Cappello, Alexander Chee, Barrie Jean Borich, Peter Covino, James Morrison) What’s at stake for the contemporary queer writer in the mainstream culture’s equation of sex with gay identity? What is the difference between crafting a literal sex scene and cultivating a queer aesthetic? What is meant by an erotics of writing or of reading for writers of any sexuality? Five accomplished queer writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry discuss and offer examples from their work.
S181. Persistent Voices: A Reading of Poets Lost to AIDS. (David Groff, Saeed Jones, Joan Larkin, Richard McCann, David Trinidad, Elaine Sexton) From Joe Brainard and Tory Dent to William Dickey, Essex Hemphill, Paul Monette, and Assoto Saint, some of our most promising and vital poets have died of AIDS. Reading from the new anthology Persistent Voices: Writing by Poets Lost to AIDS, six living poets give renewed voice to writers whose invention, eloquence, and achievement summon us today.
S216. The Future of Feminist Publishing. (Amy Scholder, Brooke Warner, Kate Khatib, Jocelyn Burrell, Rachel Levitsky) This panel brings together five feminist publishing professionals to discuss these issues: how is the scope of feminist publishing changing with the times? What is a feminist book? Do readers respond differently to self‐defined feminist books? Why should authors seek out feminist presses to publish their work?
The conference website with full program details can be found here.