Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Interns on the Scene

We hope you had a chance to meet our interns at this year’s AWP conference in Washington, DC. If you were unable to attend the conference, feel free to read the intern blogs below, which highlight some of the events.

See you next year in Chicago!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Maddie Reports from AWP (part 2)

Our first night experiencing D.C. ran much later than predicted, and the six of us awoke in a sleep-deprived stupor. After shuffling to grab our badges and winter sweaters we stumbled out into the cold, once again looking for coffee. We returned in much higher spirits, each checking our schedules in order to pick out the readings that looked most intriguing.

I settled finally on an early reading about the necessity for accurate environmental writing, a wonderful piece that discussed how the idea of the “nature writer” has shifted from Thoreau and Burroughs, taking on a more journalistic identity. Each member of the panel (including the editor of Ecotone) discussed the need for responsible environmental writers who were dedicated to the current issues of society, while still respecting to the art that is inherent in good literature. Having a particular love of reading and writing nonfiction, as well as a strong devotion to the natural world, I was extremely impressed by this discussion. It was by far my favorite of the day.

Another memorable part of the day was the book fair. We interns had struck up an unofficial competition to see who could collect the most buttons and bookmarks, and so we took it upon ourselves to scour every last inch of the fair. Getting to see all of the other journals was overwhelming to say the least, but it was also exciting and informative. We lingered a little longer at all of our favorites; River Teeth, Black Warrior, Tin House, and Mod Cloth were among the tables that caught our attention. I was most intrigued by the visual rhetoric and design methods employed by all the other journals, and took extensive notes about which colors and fonts looked best together. By the end, there was a pretty even spread between my three columns of “looks great”, “could work”, and “definitely not”.

All in all, not a bad way to end the day. Tomorrow we are going to tour a bit of D.C. and see more than just the hotel. It will be nice to get away from the constant, high energy pulse of AWP for a few hours, before returning for the final readings.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Deven Reports from AWP

The AWP conference has been an overwhelming adventure thus far, especially with the line-up of authors. One of the readings I attended on Thursday featured Sandra Cisneros and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop panel. The group read from their upcoming book, “We Wanted to be Writers”, and debated the pros and cons of academic workshops versus independent study. At the end of the reading, I met with Cisneros and had her sign a copy “The House on Mango Street”.

On Friday I attended a reading by Carol Joyce Oats. She spoke of the untimely death of her beloved husband due to pneumonia and read from her latest book, “A Widow’ Memoir”. As a volunteer for hospice, I’ve worked with death, the dying, and the families that they leave behind. Oats’ words were emotional yet simple; beautiful yet comical. She read directly from her book, added anecdotal information, and provided wisdom and advice for those coping with loss. I have read countless pieces about death and loss and this reading was truly heart-felt, and as Oats put it—“a widow’s handbook”. Being the literary geek that I am, I also had Oats sign my copy of “The Coalminer’s Daughter”.

Sarah Reports from AWP

AWP was a complete whirlwind. We danced, laughed, attended panels, and met some amazing writers. On Thursday I checked out a panel about Jewish American Fiction. I won’t lie, the title drew me in: “Beyond Bagels and Lox.” You just can’t get more Jewish than that.

Writers Erika Dreifus, Andrew Furman, Kevin Haworth, Margot Singer, Anna Solomon discussed the challenges, freedoms, and trends in Jewish American fiction. The scene for Jewish writers is rapidly evolving from the earlier literature of assimilation. New books in the genre explore Jewish experiences from before the Holocaust, both in America and beyond it. They challenge mainstream readers to do the work to understand the vast Jewish experience and culture. Kevin Haworth described graffiti in Israel that he says describes the essence of new Jewish fiction in America. Written on a wall were the words, “Am Yisrael Chai” (The People of Israel Are Alive) and below it, a new tag read, “No shit.”

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Maddie Reports from AWP

Our descent into Washington D.C. was overwhelming and luminescent, the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial glowing like beacons across the Potomac. We had an equally illuminating trip to our hotel, thanks to our taxi driver turned tour guide, and managed to somehow settle into a deep sleep. The next day we woke bright and early to register for the conference and drink some much-needed coffee. The two-block trek to get to Starbucks was somewhat troubling to this Pacific Northwesterner, who is used to having at least three coffee shops per city block. Annoyance aside, I was able to return caffeinated and happy, and our bright maze of a hotel was a welcoming sight against the biting cold. We interns split off toward the various discussions and readings that we had chosen, and all at once AWP had begun.

My first panel was a discussion on human rights from the perspective of several Iranian American women writers. They were brilliant individuals, each with one Iranian parent, and each with a uniquely personal story. The rich emotion of their fiction, memoirs, and poetry was truly moving. I attended several more readings inspired by this first one, most of which were focused on human rights and current environmental or political issues.

I also attended the SpeakPeace exhibit put on by the Wick Poetry Center. The WPC presented several Vietnamese and Iraqi children’s paintings which depicted visions of peace and war. The Center also compiled a series of poems responding to each painting. Students, veterans, and writers from across America participated. As a PowerPoint presentation displayed the artwork, a group of children and writers performed a dramatic reading of these inspiring poems. By the end there were few dry eyes left in the room. Still, I left the reading chatting with strangers about hope for the future, rather than despair for the past.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Blood Orange in DC: February 2-5

Blood Orange Review is excited to be returning to AWP, held this year in Washington, DC.

Editor Bryan Fry will be on-site with our six editorial interns (Caitlin, Deven, Maddie, Sarah, Simmone, and Zach) who will be attending panels and inviting writers to submit their work.

If you're a past contributor to Blood Orange Review and will be attending the conference, please let us know. We'd love to schedule a time to meet up with you and get a recording of your work. Send an email Bryan at bryanfry@bloodorangereview.com to schedule a time to record.

We'd also like to thank Washington State University for their support of our editorial internship program and for making it possible for the interns to participate in this wonderful professional development opportunity.