This is a guest post by
Kelli Russell Agodon

I did not screenshot the one-on-one Meet and Greet with Copper Canyon Press, but I wore a paisley button-down shirt and people arrived, to ask questions and just to talk. I had been a little nervous about that event for two reasons. The first was, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would work: would I be chatting with people via text or would we all arrive on Zoom (Zoom it was)? The second reason was, what if it was just me sitting in a Zoom room by myself because no one showed up? Oh the sad life of a poet!, I thought. But thankfully, people did show up, Zoom worked well, and as usual, my worries were for nothing.

The rest of AWP felt like wandering around an empty virtual game. Since you can’t see other participants unless you go to the tab with a list of attendees, it felt like an AWP of one’s own, which for me is the opposite of why I go to AWP. I go to AWP to walk the bookfair and for the surprise encounters with favorite poets and friends I haven’t seen for a while. I go to AWP to hold books, to flip the pages of poetry books, to sit in an audience and listen to a panel.

In my current world, I am Zoomed out, so clicking on a panel (many pre-recorded) and tuning in seemed like another opportunity for too much screentime. But I discovered that because everyone is just sitting in their offices off screen, I could click on a panel, listen, and clean my office! The panels I listened to were good and if they weren’t, there was no awkward leaving mid-panel, just a click of the pause button or shutting the laptop.

While Two Sylvias Press had a virtual booth, we mostly set it up and answered questions by message. We didn’t sell as many books as a normal AWP, but we didn’t have to carry any books from a van to the conference center either!

While this wasn’t the most inspiring conference, I admire AWP for coming up with something that wasn’t too hard to navigate, had a virtual bookfair, and allowed us a little bit of the AWP feel through panels and readings (even if they were on a screen).

This would have been the AWP my book, Dialogues with Rising Tides, would have been released with Copper Canyon Press, or almost (it’s due to be published April 27, 2021). Do I feel cheated or sad that my book is coming out during a pandemic? Not really. Actually, not at all. Mostly, I am thankful for the new ways we unite online, how we find our way through this difficult time. I’m reminded of the many ways we still have to connect and know we are turning the corner for more in-person time.

Since I’m not doing in-person events right now for my book, the online world has oddly become a stage (one I’m occasionally falling off, due to too much screentime). Virtual AWP was a way to meet some new readers, hear my favorites talk about their poetry lives, and actually sell a few more books. During the pandemic I have learned that things do not need to be perfect; good enough suits me just fine these days.

– – – – –
Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Dialogues with Rising Tides from Copper Canyon Press (which you can preorder here or on Amazon.) Kelli is also the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press and the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Retreat for Women. On May 1, 2021, she will be teaching a workshop on The Surrealists Toolkit, writing poems from prompts and play of surrealist artists and writers. Visit her website to read more of her work.

it’s not too late!

March 2, 2021

The AWP Conference & Bookfair begins tomorrow, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, and continues through Sunday, March 7. If you are interested in attending this year’s all-virtual event, you can still register. Plus, registration gives you full access to all presentations through April 3, 2021. Check out the featured presenters, the schedule, the bookfair, and then sign up!


February 27, 2020

In case you missed it, The Common has published “Poetry-Making as Empathy Play: An Interview with Oliver de la Paz,” in which the poet reflects on his most recent book, The Boy in the Labyrinth (University of Akron Press, 2019).

Previously a Bellingham resident, Oliver de la Paz teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University. He will be participating in several events at next week’s AWP Conference in San Antonio.

P.S.: Today, February 27, is his birthday and we wish him the best.

tomorrow in Portland

March 27, 2019

As if you didn’t have enough to choose from, Mountain Writers Series will host an off-site event, free and open to the public, during the AWP Conference in Portland. This event will celebrate 45 years of programming and serving the literary community in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 28, 2019, from 11:00am until 10:00pm at the Hotel Rose in downtown Portland, dozens of Mountain Writers Series alumni poets and writers will pay tribute to poets past and share some of their own work.

You’re also invited to join Mountain Writers Series poets and writers during a wine-and-appetizers reception, 5:00-7:00pm at Hotel Rose. Many of the authors will have their books for sale and will sign copies for guests. Mountain Writers Series will also be giving away dozens of books, broadsides and flyers from the archives of its 45-year history.

See the complete program.

AWP offsite

March 22, 2019

In addition to the zillions of people, readings, panels, books, and so on, at AWP, one of the major attractions is events held offsite. AWP has helpfully assembled a list of offsite events to be held in Portland and nearby communities, Tuesday, March 26, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. It’s still growing, so check back.


August 4, 2018

Early-bird registration for AWP 2019 in Portland, Oregon, is now open (and continues through October 11, 2018).

The conference features over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures. The bookfair hosts over 800 presses, journals, and literary organizations from around the world. AWP’s is now the largest literary conference in North America.

AWP will happen at the Oregon Convention Center March 27–30, 2019. Not sure? Check out the list of events.

Planning WAY ahead…

March 22, 2018

Mark your calendar for March 27–30, 2019, when the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference & Bookfair will be held in Portland, Oregon. The AWP Portland Subcommittee has just issued a call for proposals, which opens today, March 22, and closes May 1, 2018. (Guidelines here.)

The AWP Conference was last in Cascadia in 2014, when some 12,000 attendees thronged the Seattle Convention Center. Prior to that, AWP was held regionally in Vancouver, BC, in 2005, and was last held in Portland in 1998. Early-bird registration typically begins in late July. AWP membership is not required for attendance.

a good read

August 1, 2015

The Writers Chronicle

Perhaps you were one of the 12,000 people who attended the AWP Annual Conference & Bookfair in Seattle in 2014. You didn’t need to be a member of AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) to attend, but in addition to reduced admission costs, one of the perks of membership is a subscription to The Writer’s Chronicle.

Published six times a year, the magazine “features in-depth essays on the craft of writing, as well as extensive interviews with accomplished authors.” The articles are exceedingly well written and worthwhile. The magazine also contains “news on publishing trends and literary controversies; a listing of grants, awards, and publication opportunities available to writers; and a list of upcoming conferences.”

There is an archive of sample articles on The Writer’s Chronicle overview page and The Writer’s Chronicle also has a new Facebook page with links to additional articles.

On a related note, the 2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair will be held in Los Angeles at the Convention Center and JW Marriott, March 30 through April 2, 2016. Early-bird registration is now open.

countdown to AWP…

February 22, 2014

2014 AWP Conference & Bookfair

Whatever your aspirations or accomplishments in the literary world, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a good chance you’ve caught the AWP buzz. The 2014 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference & Bookfair opens in Seattle this coming Wednesday, February 26, 2014, featuring some 2,000 presenters, 550 literary events, 700 886 exhibitors and an anticipated 11,000 attendees. The two primary venues are the Washington State Convention Center and Sheraton Seattle Hotel, with scores of off-site events at bars, clubs, bookstores, Hugo House and other lit-friendly locations.

  • If you have not registered, you can still do so, both in advance and in person at the Conference beginning on Wednesday.
  • AWP has announced that “The bookfair will be open to the public free of charge on Saturday, March 1.” This is good news for both visitors and exhibitors.
  • AWP has also announced that the reading by Jane Hirshfield and Sharon Olds at 8:30pm on Saturday, March 1, is also free and open to the public.
  • Wondering if AWP is for you? Ask around (and check the blogs of your favorite local writers). Chances are good a writer you know has attended AWP and can give you reasons why it’s worthwhile and how to get the most out of it.
  • If you have some time (you’ll need some time—it’s a monster), take a look at the Schedule (you can also download it as a PDF). Once you’ve registered, most events are free (some off-site events may have a cover charge or suggested donation).
  • Follow the latest news about AWP and the Conference on the AWP page on Facebook.
  • Not this year? The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an annual event, so you can mark your calendar and start planning for: April 8-11, 2015, in Minneapolis; March 30 – April 2, 2016, in Los Angeles; and February 8-11, 2017, in Washington, DC (the 50th Anniversary and likely to be an even bigger deal than usual).

See you in Seattle!

mapping the year ahead…

January 2, 2014


Now that all that’s over, it’s time for a New Year of writing. Here are a few regional highlights for your map of 2014 writing events. Please note that some of these events require advance registration and may fill up early, so if you’re interested, follow the links for more information. For a much more extensive list of events, please visit the CALENDAR page; check back regularly — it’s updated daily!

All locations are in Washington unless otherwise noted.

January 27 – February 1 ~ 30th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada

February 26 – March 1 ~ The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Annual Conference & Bookfair in Seattle

March 1 ~ Children’s Literature Conference at Western Washington University in Bellingham

March 4-9 – The Victoria Spoken Word Festival in Victoria, BC

March 14-16 ~ There won’t be another Whidbey Island Writers Conference until 2015, but the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts offers the 2014 Writers Lockdown Retreat at the Captain Whidbey Inn on Penn Cove in Coupeville

April 5-12 – Verses Festival of Words in Vancouver, BC

April 10-13 ~ April Poetry Symposium at Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend

April (date not yet confirmed) ~ 9th Annual Ferndale Poetry Festival in Ferndale

April (date not yet confirmed) ~ Get Lit! Festival at Eastern Washington University, Spokane

May 1-4 ~ Cascadia Poetry Festival in Seattle

May 15-18 ~ Skagit River Poetry Festival in La Conner

May 16-18 ~ Write On The River writers conference at Wenatchee Valley College

May 30-June 4 ~ Vortex: Hedgebrook presents a weekend salon at the Whidbey Institute

June 27-28 ~  Chuckanut Writers Conference in Bellingham

July 7-13 ~ 27th Annual Summer Fishtrap Gathering of Writers at Wallowa Lake, Oregon

July 10-20 ~ The Port Townsend Writers’ Conference at Centrum, Fort Worden State Park

July 13-20 ~ The Tin House Summer Writer’s Workshop at Reed College, Portland, Oregon

July 17-20 ~ Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) summer conference (location not yet announced)

July 19-22 ~ Sun Valley Writers’ Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho

September 26-28 ~ LiTFUSE in Tieton

October 3-5 ~ Write on the Sound writers conference in Edmonds

November (date not yet announced) ~ Northwest Bookfest in Kirkland

November (date not yet announced) ~ Northwest Writers’ Weekend in Port Orchard

If you are planning a reading, workshop or other event in the Pacific Northwest, please leave a comment (on any post) with the details and a link (required) where people can find more information.

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