AWP 18 Round-Up: Aggarwal, Morris, & The White Shame Panel

Some Notes and Reflections on AWP, Tampa from Vidhu Aggarwal, Tracie Morris, Natalia Treviño, Ching-In Chen, LeeAnne Howe, Rita Dove and Wendy Barker.

Notes from the Swamp 

Reflections on AWP 2018 by Vidhu Aggarwal

There was talk at AWP: why Tampa, Florida? Driving down from Orlando, I am part of the I-4 corridor–a strip of freeway connecting terraformed vacation spots. And yet, despite all the energies spent on draining, Disneyfying, master-planning this bit of artificial paradise, the swamp is always encroaching. Poetry and innovation happen in these resistant spaces, in the swamp, not just in artistic centers like NYC or Boston. And when AWP descends upon a town, it also brings a certain concentration of writing energies into the everyday spaces of a city—the cafés, the bars, the pizza joints. For me these “offsite” moments reel me in: they are porous, open to passersby, integrated intimately with place, the people who live there. How does this sudden intensity alter if only briefly these spaces in a state that’s been in the news most often recently for horrific gun violence, Trayvon Martin, Pulse, Parkland? . . . READ THE FULL PIECE HERE.


Sound, Music, Musing

by Tracie Morris, for an AWP 2018 panel on sound and the body

What I want to talk about is the notion of inhabiting. How one takes in, is taken up, is swept. The reflections below are considerations about the body and how the body affects what happens when one utters, when one says something or does something with words, language, sounds in collaboration with another.

My new creative non-fiction book Who Do With Words through Chax Press is debuting here at AWP. It is a consideration of all these things in creative non-fiction, my first time in this genre, but it also reminded me of how much of the body is in engaged with “wiring.” In my intro to the book I said to write it was gut-wrenching, as I wrenched my own guts and this is as good a place to start this talk, finally, as any.

The churning of the interior is not how I intended to start but that is where it starts. This rumble that I used to think was dissatisfaction — an itch to scratch — but I’m not so sure I know that’s “true.” The body knows, but I’m not sure *I* know. One could say that the root chakra is activated but I don’t know enough about yogic practices to say if that’s for sure. Maybe a bit further up. Is it the sacral chakra? Well I looked it up on the internet so it must be right, constative (lol). I don’t know if I’m saying the same thing someone else has said about the body and where some things begin in it. I just know that I have ideas sometimes and the body has its own ideas. They’re not the same. Thank goodness. If they were, I’d be much worse off. To rely only or primarily on the thought, is to miss the plot, to miss most of the point, to miss everything else. . . .  READ THE FULL ESSAY HERE.


Erasure, White Shame: We Need to Talk.

The AWP 2018 panel organized by Natalia Treviño, with Ching-In Chen, LeeAnne Howe, Rita Dove, Wendy Barker

I was called to this conversation when I was teaching Gloria Anzaldua’s manifesto and poetic essay, “La conciensa de la mestiza/ Towards a New Consciousness” from her book, Borderlands= La Frontera: The New Mestiza, published in 1987. In this essay, she is envisioning a cultural evolution where a new mestiza, who, because of her intersectionality as daughter of both the conquered indigenous races and the conquering European races, can bring healing and new understandings about race, culture, gender, class, and nationality.

There was a section that prompted my students to gain confidence, and speak honestly about their own erasure after what they confess to be years of white-washed thinking. Anzaldua speaks in crystal clear terms about the state of race relations, imploring us to share our experiences with one another in order for healing to take place. She says, “Many women and men of color do not want to have any dealings with white people. . . . Many feel whites should help their own people rid themselves of race hatred and fear first. . . . I, for one, choose to use some of my energy to serve as mediator. I think we need to allow whites to be our allies. Through our literature, our art, our corridos and folktales, we must share our history with them. . . so they wont turn people away because of their fears and racial ignorances.”

She urges us to speak our truth, saying, “We need to say to white society: We need you to acknowledge your rejection and negation of us. . . . to own the fact that you looked at us as less than human, that you stole our lands, our personhood, our self-respect. We need you to make public restitution.”  And at the end of this passage, she says, “And finally, tell us what you need from us.” . . .

READ THE FULL ESSAY with all panelists’ remarks HERE