How to Prepare for a Conference: Three Simple Tips for Writers


Iris's AWP Essentials
One LR editor’s AWP essentials: pens, tablet, notebook, lip balm, snacks, and business cards

AWP 2016 is just around the corner (it’s hard to believe that it’s already next week!), and the Lantern Review team is hard at work preparing to dive into the fray. We’ve written in the past about how important it is for writers of color to optimize community-building opportunities at AWP and conferences like it. That’s easy enough to do if you’re somewhat established and have contacts within an existing network. But for emerging writers, networking at big conferences can sometimes feel anonymous and bewildering. During my first writing conference, I had no idea how to begin connecting with people. What was the appropriate way to strike up a conversation with a poet after a reading? Was I supposed to bring copies of my CV to the bookfair with me? I ended up figuring out most of these things by trial and error. (For the record, there’s no need for CVs at the bookfair!)

Since then, I (and we, as a team here at Lantern Review) have been to many more conferences. We’ve been the editors standing behind the bookfair table talking to first-year MFA students. We’ve been the panelists nodding at shy attendees who’ve worked up the courage to ask us questions. And over the years, we’ve learned that with a little bit of strategic preparation, it’s possible for an emerging writer without many contacts to make a great impression and establish lasting connections at an event of even AWP’s scale.

Here are three simple things that we think every writer should do before a conference in order to lay the groundwork for effective networking:

1. Establish an internet presence.

You’ll meet a lot of people at any conference, but in order to facilitate follow-up, you’ll need to provide your new contacts with a place to land if they look you up online. Of course, not everyone is into social media (and we like what Molly Gaudry has to say about not trying to fake your enthusiasm for it). But even if you can’t tell a hashtag from a Twitter handle, we highly recommend that you create some way for people to search for and find you on the internet after the conference has ended. At the most basic level, we suggest using a free service to set up a simple website or blog for yourself. We know lots of writers who have made great use of sites like Wix and Tumblr, but our personal favorite is, which offers a wide selection of free design templates; employs an easy-to-use interface that doesn’t require coding knowledge; and comes with a powerful website stats plugin that lets you see who is visiting your site and how they’re finding it. However you choose to do it, the following two tips are key: keep the focus of an author website on yourself rather than on a specific book or project of yours (this will give the site greater longevity), and make sure that the full name under which you publish your creative work is in your URL, profile, and/or username (otherwise, readers and editors may have difficulty finding you).

If you already have your own website and/or active social media accounts, the few days before a conference are a good time to make sure that everything there is in order: make sure your most recent publications are listed on your portfolio page; update your author bio and photograph; check that your list of upcoming events is current. After a conference, when you’re no longer interacting with other writers face to face, your web presence is everything, so doing the necessary maintenance work on the front end will enable you to put your best foot forward when you step onto the convention floor.

Continue reading “How to Prepare for a Conference: Three Simple Tips for Writers”

Panax Ginseng: Barbarize the Rules (pt. 2 of 2)

Panax Ginseng is a monthly column by Henry W. Leung exploring the transgressions of linguistic and geographic borders in Asian American literature, especially those which result in hybrid genres, forms, vernaculars, and visions. The column title suggests the congenital borrowings of the English language, deriving from the Greek panax, meaning “all-heal,” and the Cantonese jansam, meaning “man-root.” The troubling image of one’s roots as a panacea will inform the column’s readings of new texts.


Bad Hong Kong Movie Subtitles


When I spoke at the “Speaking in Tongues” panel for AWP in Chicago, organized by Sandra M. Yee, I found myself taking issue with the panel’s description:

In this panel of rising young artists, each writing inside two or more languages and/or cultures, we examine how we see ourselves pushing against literary and cultural traditions. How do we challenge our assimilation into the English language? To whom do we owe our allegiance as writers? Who is our audience? Whether code-switching or speaking in ancestral tongues, how do we act as representatives of our cultures? And in an increasingly globalized society, how do we embrace or shun these roles?

In my talk, I questioned the idea of writing “inside” two or more languages and cultures, because that “inside” presupposes an “outside.” Prepositions in English—at, on, into, through, from—tend to be physical or directional. In the grammar of other languages, such as in Chinese, prepositions are largely nonexistent or based on context. But in English, to write “inside” a tradition is to situate that activity within space, and to define a space is to define its boundaries.Since, despite my complaints, I am still bound to the grammatical strictures of English,) I would prefer to say that rather than writing “inside” languages and traditions, we write “across” them. One example I provided in my talk was a recently published short story by playwright and author Rosebud Ben-Oni, to whom my talk was dedicated. I wish to comment more at length about the story here.

Continue reading “Panax Ginseng: Barbarize the Rules (pt. 2 of 2)”

LR News: Happy 2012!

It’s a new year, and we’re back from our holiday hiatus!  We’re working hard on sorting through submissions for Issue 4, and have an exciting next few weeks of posts lined up for the blog.  During the remainder of January, you can look forward to two interviews (one with Brenda Hillman, which will go live later this week, and one with Janine Oshiro), a couple of reviews (including one of the HWAC’s NY Times-lauded anthology How Do I Begin?), and more of our regular fare of prompts, column posts, and literary news.

In the meantime, we’ll be putting together the issue, and preparing to exhibit at this February’s AWP conference in Chicago, where we’ll be sharing a table with Kartika Review under the name “The Asian American Literary Collective.”  Planning on going to the conference this year?  Please let us know, or at least plan to stop by the table — we’d love to meet you in person!

Warm thoughts for a happy, healthy 2012,

Iris & Mia

Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2011

Ken Chen speaks at the AAWW's Friday Panel

(A note: this post is a reflection on some of the on-site events that we attended during AWP this year. Mia will write more about our off-site reading in a later post).

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a month since AWP 2011 ended, and here we are—as usual—egregiously late with the update.  Nevertheless, this year’s conference was a colorful and thought-provoking experience for us, and we would be amiss if we did not share at least a taste of what we took away from it with you.  At last year’s AWP, we got our feet wet, so to speak, meeting and connecting with a host of amazing poets, and soaking in every bit of Asian American poetry that we could.  It was an exciting and effervescent time for us—we were just starting to get LR off the ground, and we were looking ahead at how our project might find its space amidst the community that was already out there.

Continue reading “Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2011”

LR News: The LR Postcard Project 2011

Fill-In Style Postcard for the 2011 LR Postcard Project

A warm welcome to all those who are joining us for the first time after encountering us in D.C.!  We are back from AWP, and we’re getting ready to roll once again over here on the blog.  The conference and reading went wonderfully (look out for more about our experience in our upcoming post-AWP reflection posts), and we were delighted to be able to hand out 103 postcards as part of our 2011 Postcard Project.

For those of you who are just joining us, or who didn’t catch the explanation that we posted before the conference, the LR Postcard Project is a special venture that we’ve devised in order to encourage creative responses to the poems that we’ve published so far in Issue 1 & Issue 2.  We made up a series of 116 uniquely-numbered postcards, featuring either pre-selected “shimmery bits” (quotes, excerpts, lines, images, what have you) from poems that appeared in our first two issues or a blank front (where you could fill in your own favorite “shimmery bit” from an LR poem), and asked people at AWP to take one home, to write a response to their chosen excerpt in the form of a poem on the back, and to mail it back to us by April 15th.  The idea here is that we will post the cards that we receive to the blog (as they come in) and that we’ll even choose a few that we particularly like to publish in an upcoming issue.

You can expect to see more about the project—including reminders, and (hopefully!) responses, in upcoming weeks, but for those of you who were not able to make it to the conference, we wanted to offer you the opportunity to participate, as well, and so we are going to give away our 13 remaining postcards (all of which are of the fill-in-yourself variety) to the first 13 commentors on this post.  Here are the rules:

  1. Leave a comment on this post with your name, a contact email address, and the title of your favorite poem from Issue 1 or 2 of LR.
  2. We will contact the first 13 (human/non-spam/individual) commentors for their mailing addresses and will send them each a postcard via snail mail.
  3. If you receive a card, all you have to do is to inscribe a short quote or excerpt from a poem in Issue 1 or 2 on the front of  the card, write a poem on the back in response to that quote, stick on a postcard stamp, and send it back to us by April 15th.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Many thanks,

Iris & Mia
The Editors.


LR/BOXCAR Reading: Friday at 7:30

Yesterday evening, Mia gave you some suggestions of panels that might be of interest to you at AWP 2011.  Today, I’ll be giving you a more detailed overview of some of the ways that you can connect with us at this year’s AWP.


We’ve talked about it before, but it deserves another mention here—the best way to show your support for Lantern Review at this year’s conference would be to come out to the joint, off-site  reading that we’re hosting with Boxcar Poetry Review on Friday night (the 4th) at 7:30 pm, at Go Mama Go! (1809 14th St. NW).  Entrance is pay-as-you-wish ($5 suggested donation, but we won’t turn anyone away for lack of funds).  We have a great lineup of about 16 readers (from both journals) planned, and will provide light refreshments afterward.  You don’t have to be a registered conference attender to come to this event, so even if you’re not going to AWP but live in the DC area, please consider coming out to show your support.  More information, and the option to RSVP (not required, but it helps us to get an approximate headcount) are available at the event’s Facebook invitation page.

2. AWP Bookfair: The LANTERN REVIEW Postcard Project 2011

LR Postcard Project 2011

Last year, we gave out bookmarks and a special edition run of mini-books at the AWP bookfair.  This year, we are trying something different—and it requires your participation!  We’ve made a set of 116 numbered postcards, each of which displays either a unique quote from a poem that’s appeared in an issue of Lantern Review, or a blank front for you to fill in with your own favorite line from an LR poem, and will be distributing stacks of them between the tables that have kindly agreed to display some of our materials (Boxcar Poetry Review and Notre Dame Review).  We would love for you to stop by and sign out a postcard (or postcards) that appeals to you—and then to take your selection(s) home, respond to the content on the front by writing a poem on the reverse side, and mail your creation back to us by April 15, 2011.   We’ll post most of the responses on the blog as they come in, and will publish any that we particularly like in a special section of a future issue.  Not to fret if you can’t make it to the conference, though; if we have postcards left over after the conference, we’ll be opening up the project to blog readers, too.

3. Panels and Readings (Follow us on Twitter)

As Mia mentioned yesterday, we plan to be at the Kundiman panel and would love for you to look us up there.  But we’ll be also attending other panels and events sporadically throughout the conference and will try to Tweet about our plans for the next day each evening before we go to bed.  So if you’re not already following us on Twitter (@LanternReview), please do so!

Editors’ Picks: The LR Guide to AWP 2011

AWP Annual Conference 2011

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since last year’s AWP Conference in Denver, but the months have indeed flown and—it’s that time again!

The editors of LR have assembled a list of panels and readings we thought might be interest to readers and writers of Asian American poetry.

Keep an eye out for us in particular at Kundiman’s panel on Friday at noon — we’ll have promotional materials and information about our off-site reading, scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 PM.

If you’re browsing the bookfair, you’ll also be able to find our materials at the Boxcar Poetry Review table.

We look forward to seeing you in DC!

The Lantern Review Guide to AWP 2010 | Events of potential interest for LR readers…

Thursday| February 3, 2011

9:00 a.m.-10:15 p.m.

R108. Mongrels, Monsters, and Mutants: New Identities in Contemporary Poetry. (Joshua Kryah, Cathy Park Hong, Bhanu Kapil, Myung Mi Kim, Prageeta Sharma)

R111. Courting Risk: A Multicultural/Multi-Genre Reading. (Khadijah Queen, Natalie Diaz, Naomi Benaron, L. Lamar Wilson, Susan Southard, Ariel Robello)

10:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

R125. Traveling Stanzas: Promoting Poetry and Design in the Community. (David Hassler, Nicole Robinson, Essence Cain, Scott Parsons, Valora Renicker, Natasha Rodriguez)

R138. Creative Writing Fulbright Fellowship Reading. (Katherine Arnoldi, Katrina Vandenberg, Erika M. Martinez, Gail M. Dottin, M. Thomas Gammarino, Josh Weil)

R142. If I Can’t Dance You Can Keep Your Revolution: A Reading by Six Writers of Political Engagement. (Sean Thomas Dougherty, Crystal Williams, Silvana Straw, Roger Bonair-Agard, Dora McQuaid)

R144. Beyond Print: Digital Directions in Literary Publishing. (H. Emerson Blake, Michael Archer, Jeffrey Thomson, Ram Devineni, Steven Lagerfeld)
Continue reading “Editors’ Picks: The LR Guide to AWP 2011”

LR News: January/February 2011

Happy 2011, everyone, and welcome back to the LR Blog!  We hope you had a joyous and healthy holiday. Here are a couple of updates to start off the New Year:

AWP 2011 – We’re Hosting a Reading!

Yes, the editors will be at the 2011 AWP conference in DC this year (Feb 3-5), and this time, we’re co-hosting a reading!

We are pleased to announce that we’ll be participating in an off-site joint reading with Boxcar Poetry Review.  The event will take place on the Friday night, and will feature the work of contributors to both magazines. Here are the details:

Lantern Review & Boxcar Poetry Review Present: A Night of Poetry
Friday, February 4, 2011 at 7:30 PM
at Go Mama Go!
1809 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
(Metro: U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo)
Pay As You Wish ($5 suggested donation; no one will be turned away).

If you live in the D.C. area or will be there for the conference, we hope that you’ll consider stopping by.   If you haven’t already, please take a moment to RSVP at our Facebook Event Page.  We’ll be sharing more details about the reading and about our other plans for AWP as the time of the conference approaches.

Coming Soon: Issue 2

Issue 2 of Lantern Review is currently in the production and layout stage. We are extremely excited to be able to present what we feel is a tighter, more focused body of work this time around.   A sneak peek of some things you can expect to see: a Community Voices feature on Sulu DC (with a secret, surprise element), lots more visual art than in Issue 1, and of course, plenty of wonderful poetry.  Our goal is to have the issue out in time for AWP, so keep your eyes peeled in the next couple of weeks!

Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2010, Part 2

To add to Iris’ reflections on our recent trip to Denver and this year’s AWP conference, here are a few additional thoughts, as well as some slightly more “reportorial” reflections on several of the panels that I most enjoyed.  As this was my first time at AWP, I anticipated feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of panels, readings, and discussions going on at all hours of the day, ranging from the future of M.F.A. programs in the United States to the apparent (or perhaps not-so-apparent) war between “hybrid” and traditional aesthetics in contemporary poetry.  What I found, however, was that in the midst of these many conversations, a few distinctive threads began to emerge.  Central to each of these threads was the question of community: how communities form around shared cultural, national, or transnational consciousnesses; how communities develop through shared aesthetics and/or poetic sensibilities; how communities emerge out of a drive to engage similar ethical and/or political concerns.  My sense of poetry—or perhaps more accurately, my sense of those of us in the United States (and elsewhere!) who “do” poetry—as forming one large and vibrant community that extends across forms, aesthetics, cultural affiliations, and even national boundaries was deepened by all that I saw and heard while in Denver.  Thanks so much to all those who welcomed us into their community at AWP.

Bollywood, Bullets, and Beyond: The Poetry of South Asian America
[Readings from Indivisible: An Anthology of South Asian American Poetry]

Several of the editors and poets of INDIVISIBLE celebrate its (very!) recent publication.

We were extremely lucky to attend this panel, which featured a stellar lineup of poets published in the brand new anthology of Asian American poetry Indivisible: An Anthology of South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 2010).  We were thrilled to learn that the anthology, the first of its kind, had literally just been published and, hot off the press, was ready for purchase at the AWP bookfair.  It was probably because of this that “Bollywood, Bullets, and Beyond” felt a little like a release party: poets gathering to celebrate the publication of this groundbreaking new collection, some of the editors and authors meeting for the very first time, voices coming to life from freshly minted pages .  The presentation of this anthology featured readings by poets like Ravi Shankar and Monica Ferrell, to name just a few.  As mentioned in reviews of the collection, Indivisible showcases “emerging and established poets who can trace their ethnic heritages to Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka,” and represents a truly impressive range of voices and aesthetic styles.  Keep an eye out for upcoming reviews!

Transnational Identities: Asian American Writers & Asia

Transnational Identities Panel Participants

Though not all the original panelists were able to make it, at this panel we heard writers David Mura, Wang Ping, and Ed Bok Lee offer their reflections on what it means to engage transnational Asian and Asian American prose/poetry as subjects with complex relationships to both Asia (ie. China, Japan, Korea) and the United States.  Each writer shared not only from their personal experience of navigating the terms of transnational selves, or American ethnic selves, but from their writing as well, which pointed to many of the same questions addressed in their presentations.  Toward the end of the session, we were especially grateful for the intimate feel of the panel as moderator Bao Phi encouraged audience members to actively participate in constructing a conversation around the questions of what it means to be Asian and/or Asian American, and how to explore the linguistic, aesthetic, and cultural complexities of this transnational identity… not to mention this transnational literary identity.

Before, After, Under, Over, Inside, and Beyond the Anti-War Poem

Easily one of my favorite panels at AWP this year, this discussion of the “Anti-War Poem” was moderated by Fred Marchant and featured poets Brenda Hillman, Nick Flynn, and Shanee Stepakoff, each of whom chose a different preposition (“inside,” “under,” “before,” or “after”), which they used to focus their reflections on the anti-war poem.  Their high level of engagement—artistically, personally, and professionally—in examining issues of violence, torture, and the wide-ranging effects of the American war on terror led me to reconsider the role of the contemporary poet in what I now understand to be an America-at-war.  Nick Flynn in particular drove home the point that because we are now writing in a nation at war, we are all writing war poems, whether we are aware of it or not, and are all affected by our country’s involvement in international warfare.  What I most appreciated was the breadth of the conversation that took place at this panel; in addition to discussing the larger trends and exigencies of anti-war poetry today, the panelists also took time to reflect on salient features of their craft: techniques of redaction, the use of repetition and ordering in the amplification of found texts (ie. courtroom transcripts and the narratives of torture victims), the ethics of using testimonials and court transcripts as the raw material for poetry.

Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2010, Part 1

Morning in Denver from our hotel window

Waking up to bright sun and brisk, springy weather every morning was just one of the many small points of brilliance that characterized AWP for Mia and me this year.  Having just come off winter (we both live in places that are not known for their sunshine during the first few months of the year), it was a treat to look outside our hotel room in the morning and see sun, blue skies, and mountains in the distance.  Denver was beautiful.  Even the snow that had been forecast for Wednesday held off for us.  But not even the gorgeous weather or the lure of spring fever proved powerful enough to distract us from the activity going on inside the harshly-lit interior of the Convention Center this weekend.  When I say that it was a wonderful AWP, I really mean it.  After last year’s conference in Chicago (I met Nick Flynn!  I heard Sun Yung Shin read! Lan Samantha Chang complimented my sweater! Poetry played in the elevators all day!) I was prepared for this year to be pretty darn awesome.  But my experience this year totally blew me away.  Part of it was the fantastic panels and readings that I attended.  Part of it was the excitement of walking around the bookfair and getting to talk about LR and hand out our bookmarks and mini-books. Part of it was the great hotel, great food, and Mia’s great company (I’ll admit that we took at least one night off towards the end of the conference just to spend some catching up and discussing each other’s poems over styrofoam cups of Ramen).  But a large part of what made the experience so great was the amazing generosity of the people that we met there, and the passion with which we heard them speak of their work and their involvement with communities of other writers.

Over the course of the four days, Mia and I went to panels and readings galore and spent lots of time in the bookfair.  In this two-part series, we’ll be reflecting on just a few of our favorite events.  For my post, I’ll be focusing on one off-site reading and three panels/readings that I particularly enjoyed.  For more about our experience, look through our Flickr gallery of photos from the weekend, and check back here at the blog for Mia’s followup later this week.

Follow the jump below to read my reflections on the Kundiman/Cave Canem Joint Reading on Wednesday, Thursday’s Kundiman Panel, Friday’s From the Fishouse reading, and Saturday’s Split This Rock’s panel.

Continue reading “Event Coverage: Reflections on AWP 2010, Part 1”