Overwhelmed by all the event choices at AWP? Here’s your guide to best events. I asked Veteran AWP attendees, “What’s the top event at AWP 2019  that you’d recommend to others?” Check out their recommendations! 

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I’ve included links to the AWP website so that you can immediately add these events to your schedule. Also, check out my articles: What to Pack for AWP and How to Make the Most out of AWP.

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First, two of my recommendations: 

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Joy Ladin (pictured) is a spectacular poet, an amazing speaker, and an incredible person. (Learn more about her 

& read her work:  or check out her talk, “Ain’t I a Woman?” from TEDxBeaconStreet). She’s part of the panel: 

Coloring Outside the Gender Binary:  How Transgender Poets are Redefining What It Means to Be Human. 

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At last year’s AWP, I attended a panel on plays that included my pals from Goddard College’s MFA in 

Creative Writing program, Craig Thornton and Andy Pederson, as well as two other playwrights, Deborah 

Jordan and Jayme McGhan. They spoke well and shared a variety of interesting information, but what I 

remember most is that during the Q&A people kept asking, “How can I write a play?” The audience members 

said that they’d never written one and really wanted to learn. The panelists really listened: This year they are 

doing two panel on how to write plays: Playwriting for Novelists and How to Write a Play: The Basics.

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My AWP experts’ top recommendations were the Book Fair, followed by the Keynote Address by Colson Whitehead

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Here are their other great suggestions: 

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“I’m very excited about featured presenter Eden Robinson (& glad to see so many featured Native American writers).” 

~ Erika T. Wurth, Fiction Writer & Professor

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Minority caucus meetings/events (shoutout to the LGBTQ Caucus!)” ~ Sassafrass Lowrey, Author of Fiction and Nonfiction

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“‘Come Celebrate With Me: Women of Color Writers and Literary Lineage.’  Featuring Catina Bacote, Jane Wong, Ysabel Y. Gonzalez, and Anastacia -Renee.”`

~ Melissa Studdard, Poet & President of the Women's Caucus

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“I’m really looking forward to hearing Tayari Jones and Rebecca Makkai in conversation on Thursday afternoon.” 

~ Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, Novelist and Memoirist; Faculty at Goddard College MFAW; Hedgebrook Alumna and Teacher for Hedgebrook’s Vortex Salon 

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“I have to pick 2! First, anything with Ilya Kaminsky! A Reading & Conversation with Tarfia Faizullah, Tess Gallagher and Ilya Kaminsky. Then Marcelo Hernandez Castillo! Consequences of Silence, March 28, 4:30 p.m. with Simon Armitage, Samiya Bashir, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Camille Dungy.” 

~Helene Cardona, Poet & Translator 

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Some of the folks that helped with this survey as well as my other article, What to Pack for AWP,are also part of AWP panels, readings, and/or booths. I want to thank them for their participation and give a shout out to their cool events as well as their books and websites: 

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Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Fiction Writer, is part of the panels The F Word: Writing Unabashedly Feminist Fiction and We Were Never Meant to Survive: Writing About People Who Do Anyway, and has a book signing with Sonoma County Writers Camp

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Cooper Lee Bombardier, writer, is chairing the panel Transmogrification of the Transgender Narrative: Cunting-up Trans Nonfiction, and is reading at three offsite events, Incite: Queer Writers Read at Literary Arts, Queer Work with Michelle Tea and Guests at Psychic Sister

and The Booksellers Ball at Star Theater. http://www.cooperleebombardier.com

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Melissa (Misha) Cahnmann-Taylor, Poet & Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is part of the panel Wandering Jews Go West. She is the author of Imperfect Tense (Whitepoint Press, 2016). Check out her blog: www.teachersactup.com

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Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Poet and Translator, is the moderator of the panels Who Has the Rights? The How, Why, and Whom of Translation, and Poet vs. Community vs. History, and is part of the offsite readings Shitholes of the World Unite at Holocene, and Title is Nouns & Verbs: A Poetry Reading, at Turn! Turn! Turn! with Florida International University Faculty and Alumni. https://www.marcicalabretta.com/events.html 

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Helene Cardona, Poet & Translator, will serve on the panel Translation as the Art of Reincarnation. She’ll be signing her new book Birnam Wood at the Salmon Poetry Booth #4054 Thursday March 28 from 5 - 6 PM and at the Terrain.org Table #9029 Saturday March 30, 2:30-3:30 PM. Check out her interview in AWP’s “In the Spotlight” or her website http://helenecardona.com

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Sandra Gail Lambert, writer, is part of the AWP Featured Presentation: The Strengths of Complexity and the Power of Limitations: Writers on Disability, the panel Better Later? Success and the Late Blooming Woman Author, and the University of Nebraska Press book signing—A Certain Loneliness by Sandra Gail Lambertwww.sandragaillambert.com

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Sassafrass Lowrey, Author of Fiction and Nonfiction, organized the panels Assimilate This!: Queer Literary Community as Sites of Mobilizing and Resistance and Both, Neither, and Something Else Entirely: Genderqueer Writers & Writing. Ze is also reading at the offsite event: Queer Work with Michelle Tea and Guests at Psychic Sister. www.SassafrasLowrey.com

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 Aimee Liu, Goddard College MFA Faculty, will be at the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Booth #3063, and will serve on the panels Everything We Wish We Had Known Before Applying to Grad School, and The World Splitting Open: From Memoir to #MeToo.

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Donnelle McGhee, author. https://www.amazon.com/Donnelle-McGee/e/B00713BU3K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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Carla Norton is the author of crime fiction and true crime. CarlaNorton.com

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Andy Pederson, Associate Professor of English, Concordia University Chicago; Playwright; serves on the panels Playwriting for Novelists and How to Write a Play: The Basics.

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Rahna Reiko Rizzut is a Novelist and Memoirist; Faculty at Goddard College MFAW; Hedgebrook Alumna and Teacher for Hedgebrook’s Vortex Salon. Rizzuto will be at the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Booth #3063 and will be part of the reading, Hedgebrook Voices Rising.  www.rahnareikorizzuto.com

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Sherri L. Smith, Young Adult Novelist, is part of the panels Surfing the Green Wave: Engaging Environmental & Social Issues for Young Readers and Companioning Loss: The Role of Children’s Books in Difficult Times. Meet her in person at the Goddard College MFAW Booth: # 3063 and check out her website www.sherrilsmith.com

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Melissa Studdard, Poet & President of the Women's Caucus, will moderate the Women’s Caucus, and VIDA:  Voices & Views Transgender, Non-Binary, & Gender-Nonconforming Interview. www.melissastuddard.com

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Erika T. Wurth, Fiction Writer & Professor is part of the panel Indigenous Fiction: Intersections in the United States and Canada.