Usually around this time of year my Facebook and Twitter feeds are overrun with cheerful posts about the various AWP events that my friends and colleagues are planning to attend, but with all the attention-grabbing, anxiety-ridden news that has daily shocked social media these last few weeks, it’s almost as if everyone has forgotten.
They haven’t, of course. There are still shouts out among fellow writers and acquaintances trying to connect with each other, tips for first time attendees and, because this year’s conference is in DC, some encouraging chatter about several politically centered events.
Maybe what’s really happening here is that posts about AWP are just getting buried by all the fearful factoids and scary statistics swirling around all forms of media right now. Or maybe, and this is probably more likely, those are the posts I allow to capture and hold my attention.
I am struck, nonetheless, by the auspiciousness of AWP, a conference that attracts a wide range of diverse writers, taking place in DC just weeks after the inauguration and subsequent Women’s March and the more recent protests against the Muslim Travel Ban, and how this confluence of events adds gravity and weight to such typical pre-AWP activities as making travel arrangements, sending ahead boxes of books, making plans to see friends and, most importantly, contemplating what it means to be a writer in “Trump’s America.”
This year, in addition to looking forward to the book fair, after-hours parties, and copping a frenetic high from mixing adrenaline with too much alcohol and too little sleep, some conference-goers are looking forward to converging on Capitol Hill the afternoon of Friday, February 10th to “make a case against the Trump Agenda”(flavorwire.com) while others will be participating in Split this Rock’s Saturday vigil and speakout on the White House lawn. There is also word of a Cave Canem protest-reading at Howard University and, no doubt,there will be numerous other off-site politically motivated events that are evolving even as I write this post.
It is my hope that these events are heavily promoted and heartily attended and that each receives ample news coverage and sets itself forth as stellar model for a successful, effective demonstrations by which others can emulate. Most of all, I hope these events will encourage other groups and individuals to speak out, to become active in whatever capacity makes sense for their circumstances, and that professionals who have the power and ability to make changes in Washington view these gatherings as encouragement for their continued vigilance in the resistance against tyranny. Most of all, I hope that writers and artists around the globe feel bolstered not to “keep their moths shut” as Steve Bannon would admonish, but to respectfully continue doing what they do best, which, of course, is to write on.