Don’t be surprised if you run into an author or two over the next few days. The Super Bowl all-stars of modern literature is underway in the Twin Cities, with thousands of writers, editors, agents and others involved in publishing here for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
The best news for locals is that conference events will spill into area bars, restaurants, bookstores, museums and other venues — often offered at no cost to the public.
Among the attendees are some of modern literature’s premier writers. “It is the best writing conference anywhere, ” Jerod Santek, executive director of the Write On, Door County literary center in Fish Creek, Wis., told the Star Tribune. “There’s just an amazing wealth of talent and information, and amazing readings,” said Stanek, who’s serving as chairman of the conference.
AWP began in 1973 as a professional organization for creative writing teachers. Its first conference included six events and 16 speakers. Bolstered by the growth of college creative-writing and master of fine arts (M.F.A.) programs, the organization now includes those involved in all aspects of writing, editing and publishing.
The conference — now the largest of its kind in the country — opened Wednesday, and by its close on Saturday it’s expected that 11,000 people will have participated in more than 500 sessions. A companion book fair was expected to attract 700 vendors.
It’s terrific that the event is expected to pump millions of dollars into the local economy. There’s additional value in the Twin Cities area solidifying its place among the most literate, and literature-friendly, U.S. cities.
So if you run into AWP attendees in the metro area during the next few days, thank them for coming and encourage them to return. And be sure to take advantage of the free opportunities around town to hear from some of the nation’s finest writers, editors, teachers and publishers — and buy a book or two.
The AWP conference runs until Saturday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Walk-up registration costs $190-$285. Saturday-only passes are $40 and include more than 70 readings and panel discussions, as well as the book fair. More than 150 free public events throughout the Twin Cities are listed at www.awpwriter.org and www.raintaxi.com.