Poetry News

Writers Plan to Resist Trump at AWP & Writers Plan to Resist AWP

By Harriet Staff

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The 2017 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference & Bookfair (aka AWP) takes place next weekend in D.C., but accompanying it this year are a couple of simultaneous "off-site" events to pay attention to.

The first is a working group / sort of protest of AWP itself, to be held next Wednesday, Feb. 8, in New York. The matters at hand in this "groupthink, strategy meeting," called “'hey, you there, boss, i’m talking': AWP OFF-SIGHT*" from host Simone White at the Poetry Project:

YES OR NO

1) The primary purpose of AWP is professionalization;
2) It is difficult if not impossible to make money from writing and/or selling poetry; therefore, professionalization is a hoax insofar as poetry is not a profession.

Next up, "[i]t would be surprising for a group of writers who will be presumably talking of little else but Trump for four days to do so in the nation’s capitol to convene without taking some sort of action," writes Sarah Seltzer at Hyperallergic. And reassuringly, writers do plan to protest and lobby at the conference. Details:

On the afternoon of Friday the 10th, attendees will be banding together to lobby representatives on Capitol Hill. The mission statement for the event, Writers Resist Trump, reads: “We are writers, poets, novelists, critics, essayists, journalists, playwrights and educators committed to resisting the Trump agenda. During AWP 2017 we will be making a field trip to Capitol Hill to visit the offices of our Senators and Representatives to make the case against the Trump agenda.”

I spoke to Robert Marshall, who decided to organizing the lobbying event because he, like many of us, is furious about the Trump administration’s threat to healthcare, immigrants and the constitution and wanted to seize the moment of a national gathering of writers. Marshall emphasized the importance of reminding conference attendees that their elected officials work for them. “We are people of the word, and we need to go speak those words directly to those who have the job of representing us,” he said. “Congress is where the power lies. They spend the money, they pass the laws, but they are our congresspeople. We have the right to walk in and speak to them.” He said planning the event has been chaotic, with new sign-ups from people who want to join the effort every hour, but that he is excited to take this kind of directed action.

And there’s more action planned, too. The next day, February 11, after the conference draws to a close, a vigil and speakout for free speech will take place in front of the White House. Organized by Split This Rock, a D.C.-based organization devoted to poetry and political engagement as well as 29 co-sponsoring publications and groups, the vigil will feature literary readers Gabrielle Bellot, Kazim Ali, Melissa Febos, Carolyn Forché, Ross Gay, Luis J. Rodriguez, and Eric Sasson.

Read more about this at Hyperallergic. Writers Resist Trump is only one example of writers and poets in protest mode, next to the Writers Resist movement, which held over 100 successful events internationally earlier this month; and the Academics Against Immigration Order (signed by 40 Nobel Laureates, among many leading scholars); among others.