Like many writers slated for #AWP20 San Antonio, I spent two days thinking about whether I should attend the conference as planned. Besides being on a panel on “Teaching the Teen Writer: Creating Accessible & Successful Programming with Teens” with Tania Pabon, Patricia Dunn, Tori Weston, and Seth Michelson (which is still a go without me! Sat, Mar. 7 from 3:20-4:35 p.m. at Room 006A, Henry B. González Convention Center, River Level)—and speaking excitedly about my experiences curating safe spaces for foster youth and domestic violence survivors—I planned on huddling with The Accomplices: Civil Coping Mechanisms, Writ Large Press, & Entropy at Table 2052 (T2052). One of my favorite AWP experiences is meeting Entropy contributors and will-be community members. Beyond essay and creative nonfiction talk, it is simply human talk and getting to know people who speak for themselves, and possibly, for others.
Imagine having to forego investment into your advocacy and writing because of your disability. No matter how much I look at myself in the mirror, I see a young, disabled woman of color. I cannot forget that. I don’t travel as freely as my abled peers, which is nothing to feel ashamed of, yet I felt marginalized the more I paid attention to how disabled bodies were policed, publicized, and justified on why they’re no-shows—on social media, the most unforgiving of public spaces. This is a refusal of imagination: we can allow different ways of access for those who cannot make it to San Antonio this year.
I didn’t want anyone who couldn’t attend AWP, for whatever reason, to feel as I did about their own successes. Panels take at least a year-long conversation and collaboration; I’ve worked for two years with the people on my panel, building upon a previous panel success and inspiration. Panels build upon the honoring of different strengths and the commitment to keeping an open dialogue on their subjects. Panels allow new and old generations to learn from one another. And honestly, I’d love reading all the cancelled panels as published writings.
Did your AWP 2020 panel get cancelled? Did you have to re-envision your panel? I want to give you a place to explore the ideas you would have in your panel discussion. Maybe it’ll look like a hermit crab. A braided essay. Interviews. Visual essay. I’m open to any vision; this is unlimited to the standard essay. Hybrid forms and new ways of making your panel happen are welcome.
1) This essay will be based on a cancelled, revised, or rejected panel. Although the inspiration for the call is based on #AWP20, it doesn’t have to be restricted to AWP; you’re welcome to submit essays on cancelled panels for other events.
2) Please include your panelists as a collaboration, e.g. an interview, a roundtable discussion, or other forms and types of open conversation.
3) At the top of the submission, include a 150-word panel description.
4) Essays should be no more than 8000 words.
5) Submissions are ongoing and will not close.
6) Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject “Panel As Essay.”
Let us make a new lineage where we honor different access to community.