#AWP20 Featured Presenter Q&A with Kristen Young
AWP | January 2020
Event Title: Donna Hemans, Aimee Liu, and Ellen Meeropol in Conversation with Kristen Young, Sponsored by Red Hen Press
Description: Four powerful female authors read their work and discuss their shared themes of families torn apart by history and war. Each work quests to find lost siblings and daughters and sons, each story a heart-wrenching tale of the strength of family against life's cruel obstacles. These four women discuss the importance and necessity of telling these stories, and the impact these stories have on our lives right now, in the real world.
Participants: Donna Hemans, Aimee Liu, Ellen Meeropol, and Kristen Young
Location: Hemisfair Ballroom C3, Henry B. González Center, Ballroom Level
Date & Time: Thursday, March 5, 12:10 p.m. to 1:25 p.m.
Q: What are some of the conference events or Bookfair exhibitors you look forward to seeing at AWP?
Right around noon on Thursday, I’m honored to join and facilitate a conversation between Aimee Liu, Donna Hemans, and Ellen Meeropol. Although we did not know it at the time, I and these fellow novelists of Red Hen Press were writing toward the same wound—families sundered by history. As women, as writers, we have labored long to reach this day, when we can, with the work of our minds, make culture. Though conditioned by forces beyond individual control, we are nonetheless tasked with healing the rupture.
Q: What do you remember most about your first AWP?
Though I’ve often preferred to travel alone, I was glad to have a buddy during my first AWP. I feel renewed by even brief meetups for coffee, and it’s nice to have someone to sit with between panels. Later in the evening, nothing saves a hotel bar like a familiar face.
Q: What advice would you give to an AWP first-timer?
Take time to stroll the Bookfair. Literature is handmade. Those people sitting in folding chairs, smiling behind tables? They make it happen. Talk to them!
Come find me at Booths 1562 and 1563 for Red Hen Press, a diverse, inclusive, nonprofit indie based on the West Coast. I am so damned glad they’ve published my debut novel Subduction.
Q: What is your favorite AWP conference memory?
I won't forget sharing a Portland stage with Terese Mailhot, Pam Houston, and G. Willow Wilson as moderator on behalf of Hugo House, Seattle Arts & Lectures, and Grove Atlantic. These writers bring deep wisdom into their work to confront the ugliness of society from which there can be no hiding. And yet, in conversation, what I remember most is laughter.
Q: What book or books that you’ve read over the last year would you most highly recommend?
During the past year, the books I’ve reviewed for the Washington Post give me great hope for the women’s recognition within the canon, whether Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli, In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado, Naamah by Sarah Blake, or Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria. It is our era.
Q: If you’ve been to San Antonio before, what places do you recommend that our attendees should visit?
Like Seattle, which is an officially designated UNESCO City of Literature, San Antonio is a City of Gastronomy. I’m looking to eat. I have serious designs on brunch.
Kristen Millares Young is the author of the novel Subduction. A prize-winning investigative journalist, book critic, and essayist, Kristen serves as Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House in Seattle. Her writing appears in the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Poetry Northwest, as well as the anthologies Pie & Whiskey, a 2017 New York Times New & Notable Book, Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity, and Advanced Creative Nonfiction. Kristen was the researcher for the New York Times team that produced “Snow Fall,” which won a Pulitzer and a Peabody.