Friday, April 10, 2015

Perpich Art High School’s literary arts students attend AWP

The national conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) attracted more than 12,000 people to Minneapolis this week, including the literary arts students with their instructors, Shannon Hannigan and John Colburn.

Literary arts juniors Valentina Grondhuis (left) and Elizabeth (Jensen) Pierce flash their AWP credentials.

The conference, which cost as much as $285 for non-AWP members, was free to the literary arts students because of a waiver granted by the organizers. 
The students took full advantage of their day at the Minneapolis convention center, attending panel discussions and readings and trawling the humongous book fair that was part of the event. 
Paris Boock, junior, said a panel discussion, “Write for Your Life,” was her favorite experience. It featured former addicts now working in poetry therapy. Senior Hercules Goss-Kuehn really liked “Brave and New: A Dark Noise Reading” that featured the work of a multiracial, interdisciplinary collective of six artists under the age of 26.
Cole Velders, a junior, said “Adaptation,” a panel discussion on writing film adaptation interested him the most since he plans on becoming a screenwriter. His classmate, Elizabeth (Jensen) Pierce, liked “The Poem Is a Bodily Thing,” because it showcased poetry written about things that aren’t necessarily pleasant or about “beauty.”
Juniors Amanda Peterson and Andrei Haberer both mentioned being able to use the book fair to identify possible journals to submit work to and the chance to talk to editors and publishers about the submission process. Anne Boatman, also a junior, liked a workshop on how to deal with rejection of your writing.
The seniors spoke more about observing the others attending the conference, noting that people in some of the book fair booths were too aggressive, that there were very few people of color and that a convention as big as this one was “stimulation overload.”
Helena Balcziak, a senior, said the number of MFA programs promoting themselves made her feel as though, “I want to do this but I can’t.” This led to a discussion with teacher Colburn about ways to pay for graduate school and a final tip “not to worry about MFAs just yet.”
Hannigan said high school students were an anomaly at the conference but welcomed by most people there. The organizers told her that because of the success of the Perpich students’ attendance, they hope to open the conference to even more high school students in future years.

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