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PEN America at the 2018 AWP Conference and Bookfair

This winter, PEN America is proud to take part in the 2018 annual AWP Conference and Bookfair, with events at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida.

The AWP Conference brings together the best and brightest of the literary world for the largest literary conference in North America. With over 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, historical narratives reimagined through the female perspective, the power of Muslim artists, campus free speech, translation, and literary activism.

PEN America is thrilled to take part in this celebration of the literary community. Be sure to join us at Booth #1212 at the bookfair for the chance to meet PEN America staff, to learn more about our work, and to receive discounts on your membership and PEN America publications. The full schedule of events we are taking part in is below.

Stop by Booth #1212 for discounted merchandise and to chat with our staff about the work PEN America does!


RX for Writers Targeted by Hate Speech and Trolling
Katy Glenn Bass, Ashley C. Ford, Laura Macomber, and Whitney Phillips
10:30am to 11:45am
Room 23, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Today, the internet and social media are becoming part and parcel of a writing career—so what are writers to do when besieged by online hate speech and harassment that targets their work, their identity, and in some cases, their sense of personal safety? In this discussion, writers who refuse to be silenced join cyber harassment experts to illuminate the internet’s dark side, while discussing the best tools and techniques for facing the trolls and combating hate in our online communities.

The Historical Women: Reimagining Past Narratives Through the Contemporary Female Perspective
Chanelle Benz, Amelia Gray, Min Jin Lee, Megan Mayhew Bergman, and Lidia Yuknavitch
12pm to 1:15pm
Room 14, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul,” said Coretta Scott King during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. What can we learn from reimagined female historical narratives? What is their timely relevance in the current political climate? This panel will also discuss the craft of shaping a nonfiction tale to a modern day story and how to create female characters that break barriers and make histories of their own.

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From: Exploring Beauty and Bravery in Stories About Muslims
Kirin Khan, Sarah A. Harvar, Tanzila Ahmed, and Mohja Kahf
9am to 10:15am
Meeting Room 1, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

In response to the current political climate, writers from Muslim backgrounds, especially women, are often called on to discuss who they are rather than what they do. This panel will talk less about hijab and regimes and more about the courage to write freely and the transformative power of art. Discussion will focus on the telling of daring, beautiful, and impactful stories about Muslims, asking the question: Can stories about people from marginalized communities ever be viewed as universal?

Free Speech on Campus
Adeline Lee, George Abraham, Whitney Phillips, and Inam Sakinah
12pm to 1:15pm
Room 14, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

How can college campuses fulfill their multiple missions as champions of intellectual and academic freedom, open environments for discourse and disagreement, and advancing inclusion and equality within their campus communities? Following its 2016 report And Campus For All on diversity, inclusion, and freedom of speech on campus, PEN America will host a panel of student leaders and academic and literary professionals to reflect upon the vital questions raised by this debate.

Translation and Advocacy
Nadxieli Nieto, Pierre Joris, Elizabeth Lowe, Aron Aji, and Alta Price
3pm to 4:15pm
Room 25, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Translators often consider how their work influences the cultural landscape into which they translate. Equally important is how the translator creates political ripple effects, welcome or not, in the author’s home country. Panelists translating from Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish discuss their experiences navigating cultural politics, censorship, and nationalism as they explore the political consequences and ethical burdens of serving as a medium between cultures.

Reading as a Revolutionary Act: Inciting Change in the Literary Community
Rebecca Stump, Lisa Lucas, Yahdon Israel, Renee Watson, and Glory Edim
4:30pm to 5:45pm
Florida Salon 6, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

How can organizations and members of the literary community connect with readers? How do they engage and incite readers? How can books help create community and foster diversity? This panel will explore the ways in which reading can be an active and effective medium for inciting change and how organizations can work with readers to further their mission and work. We will discuss topics such as how to start and sustain a book club and how reading can unite disparate peoples.

Bullets Into Bells: Rally & Reading at AWP
Richard Blanco, Tara Bray, Jericho Brown, Brian Clements, Jaquira Díaz, Nick Flynn, Rebecca Morgan Frank, Hafizah Geter, Joy Harjo, LeAnne Howe, Adrian Matejka, Jill McDonough, Dean Rader, Christopher Soto, Patricia Smith, Alexandra Teague
7pm to 9pm
University of Tampa Henry B. Plant Park

The movement to save lives from gun violence is gaining traction unlike ever before. When more than 10,000 writers, publishers, editors, and others assemble this week for AWP–North America’s largest literary conference–we will be coming together in Tampa, a city that in many ways stands at the intersection of this movement.

With the recent release of Bullets Into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, Beacon Press and PEN America are teaming up to convene a rally and reading at the conference featuring some of our most powerful literary voices and advocacy leaders demanding change happen now.

We are joining the call for action in the name of those killed at Stoneman Douglas and at Pulse, in the name of Trayvon Martin, and in the name of every life which has been lost to the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

How to Be a Literary Activist (Or Advocate)
Kyle Dacuyan, Jenny Mayer, Katie Freeman, and Eloisa Amezuca
12pm to 1:15pm
Florida Salon 4, Marriott Waterside, Second Floor

Join PEN America to discuss how—and indeed whether—to harness your skill and passion as a writer and an advocate for free expression. Many writers believe they have both the power and the responsibility to speak out; others wonder if an activist role aligns with their art. Our panel of socially-engaged literary professionals takes on this question and shares what they have found to be tools and techniques for “speaking (or writing) truth to power.”

The Art of the Anthology: From Proposal to Publication and Thereafter
Jennifer Baker, Brian Gresko, Nadxieli Nieto, and Rosalie Morales Kearns
4:30pm to 5:45pm
Room 7, 8, & 9, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Anthologies like Black Poets and Norton Anthology of Short Fiction have stood the test of time. Recent anthologies like The Fire This Time speak to the immediacy of issues affecting various demographics. What’s the path to produce a collection of diverse voices? This panel includes editors of fiction and nonfiction anthologies discussing the steps to create and produce an anthology from idea to publication to sales/audience along with impact of content and the realities of the successes/struggles.


A Reading and Conversation with Rivka Galchen and Claire Messud
8:30pm to 10pm
Ballroom C & D, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor

Join PEN America for this featured event presented as part of the 2018 AWP Conference with two of the finest novelists of our time, Rivka Galchen and Claire Messud. The event will include readings from the two authors, followed by a conversation on wide-ranging themes including the depiction of complex female characters and women’s inner lives and identities in American literature, motherhood, and the intersections of women’s work and home lives.



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