AWP, Apogee, & Inclusivity

As editors and writers who value marginalized voices, we at Apogee continually re-examine the role of institutions in facilitating dialogue and ensuring representation. The yearly AWP conference is one such institution, which both fosters a dynamic and rich literary community, while at times drawing criticism for alienating marginalized writers.

Our presence at this year’s AWP conference represents an attempt to negotiate this tension. Through collaboration with other organizations with track records of elevating underrepresented voices, we hope to contribute to important conversations about how intersections of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, and other facets of identity shape writers’ and editors’ interactions with literary institutions. We hope to help shape these discussions with a framework of radical inclusivity. We want to encourage writers and literary professionals to use AWP as a whole as a platform for furthering this project. If you’d like to join this conversation virtually, please connect with us on Twitter, using the hashtag #inclusiveAWP.

We invite you to join Apogee founders Melody Nixon and Zinzi Clemmons as well as Apogee advisory board member Rachel Eliza Griffiths at their respective panels. 


from the margins

From the Margins: Literary Magazines Supporting Writers of Color (Jyothi Natarajan,  Ron Kavanaugh,  Melody Nixon,  Janice Sapigao)

Diamond Salon 6&7, JW Marriott LA, 3rd Floor
Thursday, March 31, 2016
10:30 am to 11:45 am

“It isn’t hard to find writers of color,” Roxane Gay wrote in a 2012 blog post. “All you have to do is read.” In this panel, editors from five literary magazines dedicated to publishing writers often marginalized by the publishing industry talk about what it looks like to publish voices from the periphery. Topics include where they find new emerging writers of color, where they situate their work in the landscape of literary publishing, and what kinds of writing they’re looking for now.


Reimagining Literary Spaces
Gold Salon 2, JW Marriott LA, 1st Floor
Friday, April 1, 2016
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

Literary journals must go beyond stating a commitment to diversity. To change the literary landscape and make public more work by POC, LGBTQ, women,working class and differently abled communities, journals must reimagine the traditional structure of submissions or even the role of literary spaces. Editors from Apogee, The Offing, Specter, Winter Tangerine, BGD and The James Franco Review will share their experience of how they re-visioned journals or differently approached the editing process.


Writing Race: Poets on the Complexity and Contradictions of Race in America
Featuring Apogee advisory board member Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Room 404 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Friday, April 1, 2016
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm

In the “postracial” Obama era, the nation remains racially polarized, as the tragedies and protests in Ferguson and elsewhere demonstrate. How can a poet write truthfully about the complexity and contradictions of race in America? How can a poet balance a poem’s message with the demands of poetry? How can a poet speak on behalf of his or her community, and yet empathize with other groups? How can a poet channel anger into art, risking the alienation of the audience for the sake of honesty?



We also encourage you to attend other panels and events on diversity and inclusion at AWP. Let’s keep this conversation going! We’ve listed a few of these events below. Please share your thoughts about AWP, and other suggestions for panels with a similar focus, with us on Twitter, using the hashtag #inclusiveAWP.


Other exciting panels and events include:

From the Inside: Writers of Color on Editing and Diversity

Room 501, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Thursday, March 31, 2016
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm

This panel, comprised of writers of color with editing experience, discusses topics related to editing with a focus on diversity. Discussion includes soliciting, competing for a limited number of diverse writers, having diverse work approved by colleagues, nurturing writers of color early in their careers, and promoting one’s journal as diversity grows. Panelists share their experiences as writers negotiating writing with editorial duties and comment on editing as a career option.


Diversity Integrated: The Literary Art of Inclusion

Room 407, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Thursday, March 31, 2016
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

A diverse panel (Pakistani, African American, mixed race, lesbian, Korean adoptee) reviews problems of unconscious segregation in literary communities, offering tips on seeking writers from marginalized populations to contribute to, participate in, and enhance critique groups, workshops, creative writing programs, conferences, and organizations. Panelists discuss benefits and risks of identity-based writers’ groups and a need for inclusion at all levels of professional and creative writing.


Asian American Caucus

Room 501, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Thursday, March 31, 2016
6:00 pm to 7:15 pm

What literary resources are available for Asian American writers? What does it mean to be an Asian writer in the 21st century? This first Asian American caucus is not a panel or a reading, but an open town-hall-style hang out and community space. If you’re an Asian American writer, come meet other Asian American writers and discuss fellowships, publication opportunities, and resources available for Asian American writers. Organized by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Kaya, and Kundiman.

Moderator:Ken Chen is the executive director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for his poetry collection Juvenilia, which was selected by Louise Glück. He is one of the founders of CultureStrike, an arts organization dedicated to migrant justice.

Sunyoung Lee is the publisher and editor of Kaya Press, an independent, award-winning, nonprofit publisher of cutting-edge literature from the Asian and Pacific Islander diasporas. She has been with Kaya Press since 1994.

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split, winner of the Norma Farber First Book Award and the Kundiman Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from New York University and is the recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Hedgebrook, Poets & Writers, and Poets House.

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