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PEN America at the 2019 AWP Conference and Bookfair

This winter, PEN America is proud to take part in the 2019 annual AWP Conference and Bookfair, with events at the Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.

The AWP Conference brings together the best and brightest of the literary world for the largest literary conference in North America. With more than 550 panels, readings, and lectures, the weekend will feature over 800 presses, journals, and literary organizations.

PEN America will present panels that tackle free expression and advocacy issues in the contemporary world as they affect the literary community, such as online hate speech; how gentrification becomes not only subject matter but inspiration for literary activism; and how to collaborate more ethically, equitably, and inventively with work coming out of the prison environment.

PEN America is thrilled to take part in this celebration of the literary community. Be sure to join us at Booth #4022 at the Bookfair for the chance to meet PEN America staff, learn more about our work, and receive discounts on your membership and PEN America publications. The full schedule of events we are taking part in is below.

Stop by Booth #4022 for discounted merchandise and to chat with our staff about the work PEN America does!

Pacific Northwest Photo

PEN Northwest Wilderness Residency Reading
6:30pm to 10:00pm
Cassidy’s Restaurant, 1331 SW Washington St, Portland OR 97205

We welcome you to a gathering of former and current recipients of PEN Northwest’s Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency at the historic Cassidy’s Restaurant, a Portland institution. Readers include John Daniel, Langdon Cook, Martha Silano, Keetje Kuipers, Henrietta Goodman, and Tessa Hulls. Full dinner menu.


Let’s Party at AWP 2019
7:00pm to 9:00pm
Dig A Pony, 736 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214

Let’s celebrate the PEN America Best Debut Short Story anthologies, the forthcoming The Story Prize anthology, and two literary journals — Catapult and One Story! We’ll drink, eat, be merry, and talk short stories with our fellow readers and writers. Food available for order, and free drink tickets for as long as they last!


Featured Event: Lisa Ko and Nicole Chung, Sponsored by PEN America
Nicole Chung and Lisa Ko
3:00pm to 4:15pm
Oregon Ballroom 201-202, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2

Join PEN America for this featured event presented as part of the 2019 AWP Conference in this conversation with authors Nicole Chung and Lisa Ko.


Lit in PDX
Hanif Abdurraqib, Eloisa Amezcua, Alexander Chee, and Melissa Febos
7:00pm to 10:00pm
The Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, Portland, OR 97210

Join us for snacks, a cash bar, and the musical stylings of your favorite writers.


The Voice There Before You: Gentrification as Literary Subject and Activism
Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf, Jessica Ceballos y Campbell, Javon Johnson, and Renée Watson
9am to 10:15am
Portland Ballroom 252, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2

“People have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here?” From Spike Lee to best sellers, gentrification finds a home nationwide and in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Portland. What does gentrification look like in 2019, and how does it create inequity in free expression? Presented by PEN America, this panel explores the ways in which gentrification becomes not only subject matter but inspiration for literary activism.


Prison Is Not a Genre
Caits Meissner, Luis J. Rodriguez, Jeanie Thompson, and Tongo Eisen-Martin
12pm to 1:15pm
C124, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1

Reaching beyond the often-discussed value and how-to of writing programs in prisons, this PEN America panel seeks to challenge personal motivations, institutional practices, and the use of rhetorical language that can inadvertently perpetuate a culture of stigma and separation. Panelists representing a range of lived, creative, organizational, and policy perspectives will discuss how to collaborate more ethically, equitably, and inventively with work coming out of the prison environment.


Rx for Writers Targeted by Hate Speech and Trolling
Viktorya Vilk, Yumi Wilson, JoBeth McDaniel, and Candace Williams
1:30pm to 2:45pm
Portland Ballroom 255, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2 

As the internet and social media become ever more influential in writers’ careers, we discuss how they can deal with hate speech and trolling targeting their work and, in some cases, their sense of personal safety. This discussion aims to surface the experiences of writers facing such harassment and equip them with the tools and techniques available to combat this kind of assault on their work and online presence.

Further Reading

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