These curated panels will offer a forum for leading thinkers, writers, and educators to discuss writing and the arts in our culture.
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
What’s Real May Not Be: Fact, Fiction, and Cross-Genre Play
Memoirists are often asked if any part of their work is fictionalized. The speaker of a poem is often conflated with the poet. Many novels—particularly first novels—are at least partially autobiographical, and some others take place along alternative historical timelines, tell the dramatized stories of real-life historical figures, or take place in steampunk or dark fantasy universes formed from the substance of history and truth mixed with fantasy. But what happens between writer and reader—between the real world and the story of a poem, a piece of creative nonfiction, or a work of fiction—when authors either intentionally or unintentionally blur that line between fact and fiction? Do we expect more “honesty”—more “truth”—from memoir and poetry in comparison to fiction? Do we think that some genres have “more to say” because of their proximity to history or to contemporary events? And what do we mean by “fact” and “fiction” in the first place?
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Many say that the pandemic made visible anti-Asian violence. But what does anti-Asian violence look like in the past and present? How have writers engaged various forms of violence? And what are some of the violences that the writers face for how they are seen or what they create?
Three Asian American writers discuss how they see violence and art, and how they see writing in a time of violence. What does it mean that they are seen as Asian American writers in our time? How do you write, and not write, as an Asian American, especially at this moment?
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Frederick-Douglass Knowles II
Jose B. Gonzalez
Poets on Making Meter and Meaning
Sylvia Plath once called poetry a “tyrannical discipline”—by which she meant that the poet’s “got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.” This quote, however, like many on the nebulous topic of the “creative process,” is very abstract. What does it mean to “burn away all the peripherals,” and is that actually a truism when it comes to writing poetry? Is there even such a thing as a truism when it comes to the act of creating, crafting, and revising a poem? What unites poems across genres and forms? The panelists will discuss their own work, creative processes, and artistic philosophies as they relate to all aspects of poetic creation—from the genesis of an idea to the placement of a period.
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Revisionist Histories: The Necessary Reimagining of Literature as a Cultural Record
As writers, publishers, and readers come to appreciate the increasingly accepted notion that all writing is political—or that no piece of writing is entirely apolitical—artists of historically underrepresented backgrounds are working to magnify, voice, and reclaim individual experiences that have been appropriated, ignored entirely, suppressed, or erased—whether that be from the amorphous realm of “American literature,” the politicized and deliberately limited scope of “History,” or even the creative writing workshop. Some refer to these efforts as a form of cultural and historical revision, a reimagining of the ways in which poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have portrayed and coded silenced individuals. But there are also innumerable questions connected to efforts to recodify entrenched narratives, tropes, stereotypes, and myths. What does it mean to truly represent a voice, and who gets to decide whose voice is whose? How can historically underrepresented artists speak for themselves without their voices being subsumed by the dominant culture and interpreted as the exemplars of broad societal monoliths—and is it possible to write in America today without, in some way, including the dominant culture as an implicit audience?
3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Writing Across Borders: Writers discuss the history, heritage, and identity in writing across borders in the United States, as immigrants or the sons or daughters of immigrants.
We might think that one of the most important dialogues the writing world is having with itself—a dialogue surrounding the experiences of, opportunities available to, and creative output of immigrant writers—is a recent phenomenon. In truth, however, immigrant writers have been writing, exploring, and publishing on questions related to varied immigrant experiences for decades. Our panelists, both from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, will discuss not only how their heritages and identities have collided with America, but also what that collision has meant for their work, careers, and relationships with their writing.
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Mixing Forms, Mixing Media: Trends in Prose
Books with big worlds have often included artwork in order to help the reader visualize them, such as maps and illustrations. However, they’ve only been able to gesture at multimedia additions, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s inclusion of song lyrics in The Lord of the Rings or even J.K. Rowling’s invented foods in Harry Potter. For years, fans and additional materials have been filling in the gaps—for example, the musicians who put Tolkien’s songs to music on YouTube or The Official Harry Potter Baking Book that recently topped the bestseller list—but the notion of literary artists adding their own multimedia to create inextricable rather than additional meaning in their writing is relatively new to the contemporary American mainstream. Our panelists will discuss not only the value of including different aspects of art and culture alongside their written words, but also the decision-making processes behind selecting which scenes, subjects, or settings would most benefit from a multimedia approach.