AWP, It's Been a Great 4 years! Looking forward to many more.

This past week, I completed my 4-year term as an AWP Board member. Board members and staff were kind enough to hold our fall meeting in Louisville, my hometown, so I could be a hop away from my daughter, due to give birth any day to our first grandchild. (As it happened, Auggie was born the week before! Hooray, Auggie!) For 3 of those years, I was honored to serve as Chair to the AWP Board, and though we passed through some rough times, I can say I’ve never worked with a more heart-minded staff and group of directors, all of whom I consider friends. I have particular gratitude for ED Cynthia Sherman, who took over just as the pandemic hit, and steered us through some very chaotic waters with grace, heart, and unbelievable nonprofit acumen. As with all nonprofits in this time and space, we have challenges ahead, but AWP has brilliant leadership in place and is poised to do remarkable things in the future. I was so very very lucky to have Cynthia Sherman as a partner. I'm delighted--and excited--that January Gill O'Neil has been elected as the new chair of the AWP Board. She's been a very valued board member for years, an integral and knowledgeable leader of the conference committee and more, and she is the perfect leader for AWP's future. I know everyone will join me in congratulating Jan, a wonderful poet, teacher, and literary activist. Though I have genuine appreciation for all past staff and leaders, I’m astonished by the current staff’s immense talents and enthusiasm. It’s been a wonder to see the care they are taking with our members, but also the care they extend to each other. Over the years, I’ve heard AWP being referred to as “the man,”—I suppose that’s a natural assumption about any venerable organization and, though we try, we don’t always get it right--but I’ve truly never met a collective of people, staff and board members alike, who (at the expense of their own writing, editing, and publishing) work harder and are more serious about creating meaningful opportunities for ALL writers and ALL teachers of creative writing. I look forward to being with all of them and all of you in Seattle!


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