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April is National Poetry Month: How To Celebrate in 2016 at AWP and LA Book Fest

March 30, 2016


On the eve of National Poetry Month, what better way than to celebrate with an offsite AWP event at LACMA during the AWP conference in LA?


AWP’s (Associated Writers and Writing Programs) annual conference and bookfair is in LA this year from Thurs. March 31-April 2 2016 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and JW Marriott Los Angeles (Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015. To access #AWP16, use the Los Angeles Convention Center West Lobby entrance. JW Marriott Los Angeles, 900 W Olympic Blvd.  Los Angeles, CA 90015 0.3 miles away from the Los Angeles Convention Center West Lobby entrance.

In addition to a full schedule of conference sessions, panels readings and signings (715 signings to be exact!), many offsite events are held — and these are usually FREE while AWP costs $300 for three days.  Organizers expect over  12,000 writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers to attend four days of  dialogue, networking, and “unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature. The 2015 conference featured over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures.”


Since I don’t have $300 to fork over to attend this conference (and I am teaching on Thursday so I’d miss one day), I’m going to attend off-site events, and pay $45 to attend just on Saturday.  (BUT I WOULD BE HAPPY TO WEAR YOUR BADGE ON FRIDAY IF YOU’RE NOT USING IT!!)


Just doing Saturday will allow me into the book fair as well as to all the Saturday sessions including the one my publisher organized in Room 506, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level. Tod McCoy writes: “Over the past 10 years, the number of women nominated for science fiction and fantasy awards has surged, a phenomenon that occurred only a handful of times in the 50 years prior. Many believe women are only now discovering genre fiction, although Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is widely regarded as the first science fiction novel. Listen to four award-winning and nominated women who write science fiction and fantasy read from their work and answer questions. Join us on Saturday at 1:30pm in Room 506 as science fiction and fantasy award-winning and nominated authors Camille Griep, Helena Bell, Nancy Hightower, and Rachel Swirsky, read from original work.”

Also on Saturday, April 2, 2016 10:30 – 11:45 am (S157) is the “Puentes=Bridges: A Queer-Straight Mujeres Reading” with Melinda Palacio, Olga García Echeverría, liz gonzález, Karleen Pendleton Jiménez, and Estella Gonzalez: Anzaldúa and Moraga taught us: puentes. We must build bridges. This is a Queer=Straight Mujeres reading by Chicana/Latina writers from this big frontera called Califas. They are fierce poets, writers, and playwrights of this generación. Their writings reflect their politics, beliefs, and lived experiences existing within el otro lado. They build bridges within all their communities: Latina, LGBTQ, de color. They stand proud. ¡Que Viva La Mujer! ¡Viva! ¡Que ¡Viva la Jota! ¡Viva! To attend, go to Room 505, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

And on Saturday at 4:30pm I will be able to attend “S284. Beyond Neruda: Latin American Women Poets Burn Down the House. (Forrest Gander, Yvette Seigert, Jen Hofer, Jesse Lee Kercheval) Join a celebration of writing by Latin American women poets whose electrifying work responds to the most burning literary and political pressures of their time. These are poets every American reader should know, poets that teachers should add to their syllabi and class reading lists, poets who inspire other poets. The celebration includes readings from translations of Coral Bracho (Mexico), Dolores Dorantes (Mexico), Alaíde Foppa (Guatemala), Circe Maia (Uruguay), Valerie Mejer (Mexico), and Alejandra Pizarnik (Argentina).” Room 503, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level.

Unfortunately, I will miss the panels and other sessions on Friday including “F260: A Tribute to California Poet Laureate Al Young: Poet, Teacher, Mentor. (Persis Karim , Peter Harris , Alan Soldofsky, Sharon May, Al Young) Al Young represents the best of California. As past Poet Laureate of this state (appointed in 2005), he has spread the good news of poetry to California schools and higher educational institutions, and has participated in the San Francisco Jazz Festival and countless poetry festivals. While known for his blues-inflected poetry, his poems and influence have inspired Californians young and old. This tribute to Al Young features his poetry and his remarkable impact on past students and peers.” Al was definitely a mentor of mine! I took several classes with him at UCSC and he was my thesis advisor. Check it out from 3-4:15pm in Room 511, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level.

I will also miss Douglas Kearney (Session F272) who will be part of “A Reading and Conversation with Douglas Kearney, Robin Coste Lewis, and Gregory Pardlo”  where the three poets will “read from collections that provoke new ways of seeing and thinking about culture, art, history, naming, race, and home. They discuss how strategies of experimental performative typography, meditations on the roles played by desire and race in the construction of the self, and autobiographical lyric poems connecting the complex intimacies of domestic life with the profound issues of our day create a seamless line between craft, vision, and critical thought.” (Video below also links to an interview and reading by Douglas Kearney, Suzanne Lummis, and David St John as well as Marsha de la O).

I’ll also miss Ventura poet Marsha de la O’s signing of her new book Antidote for Night at the BOA booths (800 & 802) on Friday from 11 to 12.  BOA is celebrating its Forty Year Anniversary that day at  4:30.

new antidote square 3.2016

So which offsites will I attend?

Each day of AWP, Thursday, March 31 – Saturday, April 2, 2016, Wendy’s Subway at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (2245 E Washington Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90021) will offer three days of writing workshops and readings; all workshops are FREE and limited to 15 participants. Register on site or in advance by emailing with the title of the workshop in your subject line. Here’s the list of workshops. I hope to attend Friday afternoon!

03-31-16_Tender-OmnibusOn Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 7:30 pm writers Harryette Mullen, Dodie Bellamy, Laynie Browne, India Radfar, Katy Bohinc, Julie Patton, Truck Darling, and editrix Lee Ann Brown will read their work in conjunction with the publication TENDER OMNIBUS, a volume of landmark texts chronicling the first 25 years of Tender Buttons Press. Tender Buttons Press has been a leader in experimental poetry since 1989. Free and open to the public, LACMA’s Brown Auditorium is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90036.



Bernadette Mayer’s SONNETS
(The 25-year-old classic that started it all)
(Waldman’s love letter to Bernadette Mayer)
Harryette Mullen’s TRIMMINGS
(later republished in the S*PeRM**K*T trillogy)
Agnes Lee Dunlop Wiley’s AGNES LEE
(a wonderful written history of one woman’s life in the early 1900’s)
(later republished in the Curves to the Apple trilogy)
(late Clairvoyance!)
Dodie Bellamy’s CUNT-UPS
(Yes! It’s really back in print!)
(Moxley’s debut & reinvention of Lyric)
Laynie Browne’s POLLEN MEMORY
(early eco-poetics)
(be seduced by Sanskrit and Greek lyric traditions)
(before Cat memes there was Michelle Rollman)
Katy Bohinc’s DEAR ALAIN
(This book should be banished!)

Another off-site event that caught my interest is the free Words & Wine on Friday April 1 from 5-8pm with the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference: Friends of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference are invited to sample Napa Valley wines paired with readings from conference faculty, staff, and alumni including Lan Samantha Chang, Brian Teare, Angela Pneuman, Iris Dunkle, Jan Ellison, Van Khanna, Catherine Hodges, and more. Contact: Catherine Thorpe.  Event location: Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel, 711 S. Hope St., Los Angeles, CA 90017.

On Saturday night from 630-9pm, I need to be in two places at once! But isn’t that the nature of conferences? Too many panels and presentations going on at the same time demanding your attention?


From 630-845pm, I’d like to attend the free offsite for “Incite Them to Poetry: A Reading for C.D. Wright” which honors and celebrates the poetry and legacy of the late C.D. Wright. Organized by Copper Canyon Press, Station Hill Press, and Tender Buttons, readers will read poems by Wright plus their own work as well as speaking about her influence. Readers: Laynie Browne, Lee Ann Brown, ​ ​Valerie Mejer Caso, Don Mi Choi, Claire Donato, Lisa Olstein, Elizabeth Robinson, Prageeta Sharma, Craig Teicher, Sam Truitt, Chet Weise, Michael Wiegers, Joshua Marie Wilkinson.

Also on Saturday night from 7-9pm I’d ALSO like to attend the readings at the Poetic Research Bureau, 951 Chung King Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90012organized by Ugly Duckling Presse, Siglio Press, Essay Press and Dorothy, a publishing project, by Ben+Sandra Doller, Jenny Boully, Amina Cain, Danielle Dutton, Jen Hofer, John Cage (read by Richard Kraft and Joe Biel), Andrew Maxwell and Joanna Ruocco.


A Sunday offsite that looks interesting to me but that charges admission is “Wide Awake and Beyond” at The Skirball Cultural Center  ($12 general; $10 Beyond Baroque and Skirball members). Of course, you get admission too. Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center and The Los Angeles Poetry Festival present an afternoon of poetry from Lynn Emanuel, David Lazar and Tim Seibles with special guest, actor Wes Bentley and featured poets from Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond(Pacific Coast Poetry Series): liz gonzalez, Ron Koertge, Erika Ayon, Florence Weinberger. Hosted by Wide Awake editor poet Suzanne Lummis. Reception with poets included; books for sale by Beyond Baroque.

The next major literary event is the FREE annual LA Times Festival of Books to be held the following weekend April 9 and 10 at USC; check out the schedule. Over 500 authors, celebrities, musicians, artists and chefs will be on hand to inspire and entertain festival-goers.

But while this weekend I’ll be at AWP, next weekend I will be at Lucidity where I will be hosting at least one open mic on the Big TV Set as well as teaching a “how to make your own magical mouthwash” workshop and more! Here’s the full Lucidity schedule. While it is not as FULL as the LA Times Book Fest or AWP, there’s plenty to experience!



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