Organized and moderated by Professor Robert Giron, PR’s Community Outreach editor, Potomac Review held the last reading of the (academic) year on April 10 on the Takoma Park / Silver Spring campus of Montgomery College. Featured authors William Lantry, winner of the Potomac Review poetry contest, and fiction writers Kathleen Wheaton and Kristin N. Faatz read and discussed their published works and works-in-progress to the appreciative audience.
Conversing and connecting happened on Saturday, April 5, at Johns Hopkins University’s DC campus. Starting with the opening remarks by David Housley and Susan Muaddi Darraj, of Barrelhouse, and Julie Wakeman-Linn of the Potomac Review, the day featured workshops and discussions around everything from chapbooks to experimental forms in nonfiction to flash novellas. And when the writers weren’t in workshops lead by editors of magazines like The Gettysburg Review, Gargoyle or The Intentional Quarterly, they were in the main area, sitting on sofas or standing in small groups, striking up new conversations and rekindling old connections (and, vice versa, of course).
Speed Dating with the Editors, always a raucously fun event and book signings (less raucous, as much fun) took up the middle of the day, followed by keynote speaker Marisa de los Santos, author of Falling Together and Belong to Me as well as other novels and poems. No one went home empty handed: all who attended were given the choice of one subscription to one of the sponsoring literary magazines (did you fill out the orange form?). A happy hour (or two) rounded out the day of conversations had and connections made.
Yes, our PR interns were there and managed the coffee table, keeping the writers supplied with coffee and banana bread, and managing the time for the speed daters.
Kateema Lee, PR associate editor and poet, attended the Split This Rock Poetry Festival and had this to say about the event:
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my first Split This Rock Festival in Washington D.C. Split This Rock, named after lines from Langston Hughes’ poem “Big Buddy,” is a nonprofit organization that merges the power of poetry with the power of activism to effect change. From Whitman to Adrienne Rich to Amiri Baraka, poems of provocation have a firm, purposeful place in history, and Split This Rock is working, through the festival and various programs throughout the year, to carry on the tradition. The festival included evocative panels, interactive workshops, and provocative readings. Also, continuing with the tradition of poets as “truth tellers,” each morning poets raised their voices with poems of protest, expressing various truths at Lafeyette Park near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There were many highlights, but some of the especially inspirational moments were listening to the amazing voices of DC Youth Slam Team members, experiencing the awe-inspiring work of Tim Seibles, Yusef Komunyakka, Claudia Rankine, Eduardo C. Corral, and Franny Choi, and interacting with poets from around the country. I left the festival renewed. Here are a few powerful poems that may inspire you to help make change happen:
“Situation 5” and “Situation 6” by Claudia Rankine
“In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes” by Edward C. Corral
On Wednesday, March 26, PR and The Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Montgomery College co-sponsored a reading with various authors from the Grace and Gravity anthology series. Presented by series editor Richard Peabody, writers Mary Overton, Amani Elkassabany, Patricia Morningstar, Alyce Lomax, Julie Wakeman-Linn, and Randi Gray Kristensen read their published selections to a packed room of interested students of writing and literature. Photos from the event were taken by Peabody, Tommi Usden, and our excellent intern, Ceileigh.
Last week was a whirl for PR–readings, midterm grading and grading and grading, so while she reorganizes her life, visit Conversations and Connections and make sure that you sign up! You don’t want to wake up next Sunday feeling like you’ve missed something important, and fun, and writerly, now do you?
Here’s what Karolina Gajdeczka has to say about her trip to this year’s conference:
This year, the AWP Annual Conference (aka America’s largest congregation of that special breed of nerd known as writers) was held in Seattle, WA. I’ve gone to AWP in years past (I went to the one in DC, and even presented in Boston), and enjoyed it, so coupled with the opportunity to head out to the West Coast, I couldn’t resist.
I flew in to Seattle early, so I could have a day of sightseeing—which was well worth it. Never underestimate a bit of adventuring to spark your imagination.
Aside from the stunning Puget Sound waterfront views of the Olympic Mountains, there were plenty of inspiring moments. For instance, there was an awesome tiny-yet-jam-packed bookstore in Pike Place Market, with books stacked and crammed every which way, reminding me of the corner of my apartment that I claim as my personal space. Overflowing with books, but still comfortable. I also checked out the Chihuly Garden and Glass “art experience,” at which I lingered much longer than I expected because each piece was so intricately beautiful. Not to mention writer sightings, cool cafes, and the bustle of an unfamiliar city.
Having been to other AWP conferences, I knew my limit. With so many writers and panels and magazines and presses and people to see and things to do—I decided to be kind to myself this year and choose wisely. I made it to a handful of panels (very informative), one off-site reading (quirky and fun), and spent a chunk of time meandering around the book fair—which left me wholly satisfied, but did involve some planning ahead. Though they give you a thick program when you register and pick up your fancy name badge, the program (or most of it) is available in advance on their website.
Like other AWPs, it wasn’t too difficult to pick and choose what to see and do. I narrowed first by my areas of interest (fiction writing, “the writing life,” MFA-related-things). Sometimes general topics were repeated, with perhaps slightly different focuses, so fitting certain things in was not too difficult. When I got my Official Program, I made sure what I wanted to see what still at the same times, and wrote down the rooms and times, around which I coordinated plenty of time for the book fair (which is really the coolest part).
At the book fair, I got to walk-and-talk with our lovely editor-in-chief, Julie Wakeman-Linn, with whom I chatted with other editors, writers, magazine and presses. We picked up our fair share of “swag” (business cards, flyers, magazines, and even temporary-tattoos). I also spent a bit of time chatting with folks who stopped by the Potomac Review table (thanks to everyone who said hello!).
Though this was an intentionally quieter conference for me than the hectic schedules I gave myself in the past, I think I liked it better that way. It left room to wander, to explore, and to let all those useful bits of information and interesting people sink in.
If nothing else, the conference left me re-invigorated in the writing life, the writing world, inspired with a few new short story ideas, and perhaps some ideas of which publication might be their future home.
Here’s what you’ll miss if you stay home(and note that general merriment will be had by all):
9:30–10:30 Panel Session 1
10:45–11:45 Panel Session 2
Noon–1:45 Speed Dating, Book Signings, Lunch
1:45–3:15 Keynote: Marissa de los Santos
3:30–4:30 Panel Session 3
4:45–6:00 Boxed Wine Happy Hour, Book signings, General merriment
PANEL SESSION 1: 9:30–10:30
Flash Evolution: The Flash Novella (Laura Ellen Scott, Tara Laskowski, Erin Fitzgerald)
Is a Low-Residency MFA Right for Me?
Get Off Your Ass and Write: Stop Making Excuses and Start Being Productive (Rosalia Scalia)
Faking It: Writing About a Culture That’s Not Your Own (Andria Cole, Susan Muaddi Darraj)
Hand Crafted: Writing and Publishing Chapbooks (Dan Brady, Justin Marks, Mark Cugini)
PANEL SESSION 2: 10:45–11:45
Inside the Editor’s Desk Drawer: What Makes the Final Cut and What Doesn’t (Julie Wakeman-Linn, Mark Drew, Kendra Kopelke, John Wang, Travis Kurowski)
Down Which Mean Streets? (Art Taylor, Nik Korpon, Steve Weddle)
Let’s Make Stuff Together: Collaboration in Writing
Experimental Forms in Nonfiction (Marissa Landrigan, Sheila Squillante)
Sentence Power (Ed Perlman)
The chemistry of the poetic line: Line Breaks and Poetry (Jim Warner)
PANEL SESSION 3: 3:30 — 4:30
Who’s Talking?: Point of View in Fiction (Geoffrey Becker, Leslie Pietrzyk)
Think Small: Working with a Small Poetry Press (Brian Fanelli, Dawn Leas)
Is Fiction Dead?: The Rise of Creative Nonfiction (Cathy Alter, Tim Wendel)
The Art and Necessity of Practice (Beth Konkoski)
Writing is Revision (Dave Housley, D Foy, Rae Bryant, Ben Tanzer, Jessica Anya Blau)