Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures
AWP Conference
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Fourth Genre Team attends AWP Conference in Minneapolis

Fourth Genre Team (2).jpg

By Natalie Gotko and Suzanna Smentowski

For a week in April a group of Professional Writing students and faculty traveled to the Association Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Minneapolis. AWP is the national organization for creative writers who teach at the college level, and their annual conference brings together writers, teachers, and publishers to engage with each other and share ideas and opinions.

The conference was attended by five PW students who serve on the editorial staff of Fourth Genre, a nonfiction literary journal published at Michigan State. This group included Kaitlynn Boot, Brittany Boza, Becca Rohde, Christine Scales, and Evan Sherbert. They were able to meet Fourth Genre readers and some of the writers that they had published over the past year.

“The conference was a good opportunity to garner more attention to our publication and meet other representatives of fellow journals,” said Sherbert.

At the AWP conference there are several hundred booths representing various literary journals, magazines, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 people attend the conference making it the largest literary conference in North America.

“My favorite part of AWP was just walking the entirety of the convention center,” said Sherbert. “There were a plethora of different booths to see and explore.”

Not only did PW students from Michigan State attend, but faculty and graduate students did as well. Ana Holguin, Laura Julier, Katie Livingston, and Jonathan Ritz ran a panel presentation on “Remixing Creative Nonfiction.” Ritz and Holguin premiered shorts films they created based on pieces published in Fourth Genre.

“It was really encouraging to have a live audience respond to it and I got some useful feedback,” Ritz said.

However, the conference is not only about engaging in the academic community but also about making connections within the writing and publishing fields.

“It’s a chance to see old friends and network with new ones,” Ritz said.

Overall, the conference had a lasting impact on those who attended, both from a learning and networking perspective. Sherbert recommended that other students attend AWP in the future.

“It’s an excellent experience that allows you to meet a lot of interesting people and get a better sense of the literary publishing world.”

If PW students are interested in attending the conference, they can contact Laura Julier, Jonathan Ritz, or Kathryn Houghton or consider joining the Fourth Genre team.