AWP 2014 (a miniscule sampler)

My head is still spinning from the inspirational and overwhelming writerly tsunami that is the Associated Writers and Writing Programs conference. Here are a handful of writers whose work I particularly enjoyed either during panel discussions or random encounters at the book fair or around the city.

Summer Wood. She had a lot of lovely things to offer during her Structuring the Novel panel. I look forward to reading Raising Wrecker.

 Anca Szilagyi and Fairy Tale Review. During the New Fairy Tales from the North panel, Anca read an excerpt from her short story, “More Like Home Than Home.” This story features a girl trapping a raven in a very large jar of custard. I loved it, and now look forward to reading FTR’s new Emerald issue.

Rikki Ducornet. The Dickmare. ’nuff said.

Sara Loewen read a subtle and deeply moving excerpt from her book of essays, Gaining Daylight: Life on Two Islands. Loewen was born and raised in Alaska, and lives on Kodiak island, where she teaches and fishes. From the book’s synopsis:”Her personal essays integrate natural and island history with her experiences of fishing and family life, as well as the challenges of living at the northern edge of the Pacific.”

David Huddle. I attended a panel called “The Middle Matters,” about the middles of short stories. Huddle got up and blasted us with a spectacular presentation on Eudora Welty’s story, “Powerhouse.” Provocative, passionate, and stately, Huddle reminded me that Welty’s work is not only still relevant, but still edgy, and well worth revisiting.

Gretel Ehrlich. Even though she had a cold.

Barry Lopez. I read Arctic Dreams as a sixth grader and have never shaken it. He spoke with Gretel Ehrlich at AWP. I will post a link to their talk as soon as it’s live online.

Colin Dickey (most recently in The Believer). I had the good fortune to meet Colin in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Author of Cranioklepty and Afterlives of the Saints, he’s a frequent contributor to Lapham’s Quarterly, among other publications. He’s also the director of the Morbid Anatomy Museum in NYC.

Cari Luna.I am really looking forward to reading her book, which chronicles the lives of five squatters in the mid-nineties in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Sharma Shields was utterly charming during the Uncanny West panel discussion. Her book concerns a creature who may or may not be a sasquatch. Since she was born and raised in Spokane, Sharma’s work would be better characterized as unkanny. Anyone? Bueller?

It was a joy to see Debra Magpie Earling again. I’ve reread her novel, Perma Red, several times since it came out in 2002.