AWP the annual meeting of poets, writers and the writing programs seems to be off the rails in their panel decision making.
AWP benefits from the explosion of Creative Writing Programs. It is a good place to meet and network and occasionally to see friends. One of the areas that many attendees cannot understand is how they decide on panels?
Next year's AWP is here in Chicago and I was on two panel proposals. The first was co-sponsored by the Poetry Center of Chicago's director Francesco Levato and included John Tipton (Chicago Poetry Project), Paul Hoover (Long time Famous Chicago poet), Larry Sawyer, (Animates the Myopic Series, & Simone Muench a very well known Chicago area poet. I am frankly flumuxed at why this panel was rejected? AWP is happening in Chicago and this panel on Chicago poetry seemed perfect for the event.
What is wrong with AWP??
The second panel proposal I was on included poets Eileen Tabios, Sheila Murphy and Catherine Daly and it was focused on Poets and work. Our goal with this panel was to talk about what it means to be a poet and not to be an academic but rather to be working in other fields but still engaged with poetry. Again, I am flumuxed at this panel's rejection. Most MFA students will never get jobs in Academia so why not examine the world as it is??
I have to say that the rejection of these panels and the Chicago poets who were involved with them does not send a message of inclusion. I have to say that there are allot of Chicago poets who are dismayed at the rejection of the Chicago: The Intersection of Innovation panel that Francesco Levato proposed. It makes me wonder why they are coming to Chicago?
Another beef I have with AWP is there complete lack of outreach to the Chicago literary community. Who is on the organizing committee? I don't know one poet in Chicago who is involved in the planning and I know allot of Chicago poets. I know at least 25 or 30 Chicago area poets who would be good contacts for them. I for one work in Event Management and would be willing to help free of charge to help them with their efforts.
I also think that AWP'sof exclusion of poets and writers who are not academics is narrow minded. Most MFA graduates will work outside academia. I think that what is called for is an organization that is focused on poets and writers and not writing programs. Most writing programs are cash cows for Universities but they need to realize that writing is bigger than what they are doing.
I would be interested inhearing from people whose panels were accepted. I have been told about many other panels that have real merit that were also rejected.
Who makes these decisions?
Who is a man behind the curtain?