Yawp: Your Virtual AWP

Because you may not have the time, money, or desire to schlep out to the conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs this week in Denver, here’s a listing and description of the conference events that feature queer content, together with the writers participating in them. Perhaps more than any other identity group of writers, LGBT people maintain a strong presence at AWP, both in terms of officially sanctioned panels and readings and unofficial hanging out.

If you see something in these events that sparks your imagination, indignation, or adulation, please react to it in the comments below. Maybe we can have our own informal colloquium here in the cyberether. I’ll report back, if I can, from the actual AWP.

Also, as you’ll see, between now and Thursday I have to figure out something to say on queer desire. If you desire to say anything about queer desire, I’d sure desire to hear it.

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Persistent Voices: A Reading of Poets Lost to AIDS. (David Groff, Saeed Jones, Joan Larkin, David Trinidad, Elaine Sexton) From Joe Brainard and Tory Dent to William Dickey, Essex Hemphill, Paul Monette, and Assotto 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.

Courting Risk Reading Series IV


Multicultural, multi-genre reading series featuring work by women writers, writers of color, and LGBT writers. Readers include ariel robello, Francine J. Harris, Natalie Diaz, Layli Longsoldier, Naomi Benaron, Jamaal “Versiz” May, Anastacia Tolbert and others. Curated by Khadijah Queen; to RSVP or join our email list: support@courtingrisk.com

Bloom Magazine Event

Editors Charles Flowers and Aaron Smith join with contributors to BLOOM, the queer literary arts magazine, at The Wrangler — organized by the Austin Bunn.