February 8, 2017

Writers to #resist at AWP


If Peter Clark’s report on Winter Institute was any indication, the bookselling community is hardly feeling complacent in the face of the drastically shifting American political landscape.

The same thing can certainly be said of the larger literary community, many of whom will be descending upon—of all places—Washington, DC for the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference this week. On Thursday, around 12,000 writers, college and university creative writing programs, literary journals, and independent publishers will gather for three days of presentations, reading, panels, lectures — and political demonstrations.

A large number of attendees are planning to take a break from literary activities to protest Trump’s agenda while they’re in the capitol. As Flavorwire’s Sarah Seltzer reported last week, over 1,000 people have signed up on Facebook to attend the Writers Resist Trump demonstration on Capitol Hill on Friday. Meanwhile, on Saturday, almost 800 people will be gathering outside the White House for a Candlelight Vigil for Free Speechorganized with the support of the writing programs at Kansas State University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Miami, among many others.

The protests aren’t officially associated with AWP, but they are nevertheless one more indication of the extent to which writers, professors, and publishers are concerned about Trump’s threat to expand libel law, his counterfactual criticism of the media, not to mention his pledge to cut the already meager funding for the NEA, which helps finance AWP. As Saturday’s vigil organizers wrote on their Facebook page: “[Free speech] is threatened in new ways and with more intensity than in recent memory. As the nation’s poets and writers, editors and critics, we have a unique and vital obligation to stand watch over free speech and expression.”



Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.