Conversations    March 27, 2016     The Last Bookstore


The 2016 Associated of Writers & Writing Programs—known colloquially as AWP—is kind of like a traveling circus of writers, publishers, editors and agents. Each year they pop up in a different US city bringing with them over 800 presses, journals and literary organizations from around the world. The conference spans over one long weekend and has over 12,000 attendees. This year they chose Los Angeles, so we thought we’d check in with some of our favorite authors and publishers to see what all the hub bub is about:


SMALL BEER PRESS- GAVIN GRANT – Here we chat with Gavin Grant, founder of Small Beer Press, who will be hosting a reading anniversary party at the bookstore Wednesday March 30th. More info here.


LBS – Have you been to a past AWP? If so, which one?

GG – I went to AWP last year in Minneapolis, a couple of years ago in Boston, and in 2007 (Atlanta) and 2008 (New York).


LBS – What’s your favorite thing about AWP?

GG – It’s a toss up between having something like 700 small presses in one place and the restaurants. Let’s say the book fair, because there are all these magazines and publishers who I can put faces and names to (and sometimes even manage to remember, ugh, memory rot), and I usually come back with a box full of things I’ve bought and traded for which keep me going all year.

But . . . I live in a small town, so I love having the excuse of going to the conference to travel to different cities. In 2007 we headed out to a huge farmer’s market with friends — which was great as the center of Atlanta did not have quite enough vegetarian food — and last year in Minneapolis there was a great street of restaurants right next to the convention center. (That didn’t stop us heading further out for Vietnamese and Ethiopian food.)


LBS – Panel or event you’re most looking forward to?

GG – I am still looking forward to when I go back in time and see Ursula K. Le Guin and Molly Gloss on their 2014 discussion at the Seattle AWP. Why did I miss it? Ugh. There are two things I’m immediately looking forward to, though, a panel with five amazing writers on it and Claudia Rankine’s keynote:


Thursday, March 31, 2016
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Concourse Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One
R313. #AWP16 Keynote Address by Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She received the National Book Critics Circle Award in the poetry category for Citizen, the first book to ever be named a finalist in both the poetry and criticism categories. Citizen also was a finalist for the National Book Award, was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and is the only poetry collection named a New York Times best seller in the nonfiction category.


Saturday, April 2
12:oo pm to 1:30pm

AWP Bookfair Stage, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One
S171. In the Realms of the Real and the Unreal. (Katharine Beutner, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Machado, Alice Sola Kim, Kelly Link)

This panel explores genres of fiction that juxtapose the real and the unreal in experimental ways: historical fiction, literary fantasy/science fiction, weird fiction, and satire. Where do we draw the line between a secondary world and a distorted reflection of our own world’s beauty, violence, and diversity? Can we discern a poetics of the unreal in contemporary fiction? How have the continual debates over generic boundaries—and/or their irrelevance—affected the ways contemporary writers work?


LBS – Are you on a panel? Tell us about it.

GG – I am hosting a Small Beer reading/panel at the conference with a slightly different line up than the Last Bookstore event. What kind of spaces are books published into? Warehouses? Shelves? Boxes? Hands of all sizes?


Friday, April 1
10:30 am to 11:45 am
Room 513, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
F161. Small Beer Press: 15th Anniversary Panel & Reading. (Sofia Samatar, Ayize Jama-Everett, Maureen F. McHugh, Juan Martinez)

Fifteen years after Small Beer Press was founded to publish works that cross genre definitions, traditional bookstore shelving options, and academic course descriptions, Four authors will read from their books and then discuss the spaces their books were published into with Small Beer Press publisher and cofounder Gavin J. Grant.


Gavin Grant is in-store Wednesday March 30, with Kelly Link (co-founder of Small Beer), Karen Joy Fowler, Sofia Samatar and Maureen F McHugh.




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