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My First AWP Panel: When the Old Names Fail Us

AWP (Association for Writers & Writing Programs) is an annual conference for writers and publishers to sell books at the largest book fair you'll ever see, host the most panels and readings you'll see on and off site, and to just gather as writers in general.

I had the honor to be on my first panel faciliated by Kimberly Ann Priest. Kimberly, myself, Matt Miller, Lynn Melnick, and Octavio Quintanilla talked about how old names may fail us, and how poetry helps us reclaim the names that serve us. Kimberly talked about autism, I talked about gender identity, Matt talked about relearning language as a white cis man, Lynn talked about sex work, and Octavio talked about reclaiming language of love for men.

I also read a template shared with us and the rest of AWP's moderators created by the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) in order to acknowledge that when we talk about the old names that fail us, we can't keep calling a genocide a conflict. And RAWI wrote the template in a way that talked about the genocide in Gaza, anti-trans legislation, land acknowledgement of Indigenous tribes in Missouri, and how liberation means liberation for all. I'm so grateful they made that available.

What a great first AWP. <3


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