Art Of Writing On Display At Tampa Conference

Mar 8, 2018

More than 10,000 writers will be gathering in Tampa this week as The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) holds its annual conference downtown.

Ira Sukrungruang is chairman of the conference, which takes place March 8-10.

“You get these like-minded individuals in one place talking about writing and reading and the literary arts and how important it is,” said Sukrungruang, an English professor at the University of South Florida. “You not only get teachers and students, you get writers and what they love talking about most which is craft, the craft of writing and how we put stories, poems, and essays together.”

There will be over 500 panels at the Tampa Convention Center, Marriott Waterside and the University of Tampa.

“There will be (panels on) clear writing, clear writing of social justice, how to run a more effective clear writing classroom, how to build community,” said Sukrungruang.

The AWP has more than 40 featured speakers on a variety of topics. Author and MacArthur Foundation Genius grant winner George Saunders will deliver the keynote speech Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at the Tampa Convention Center.

The University of Tampa is taking advantage of having so many acclaimed authors and poets in town by having a pair of them speak to members of its Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

“The creative writing at UT is really all about fostering people’s development as writers and getting them to a place where they can work on the project they always wanted to work on,” said program director Erica Dawson.

Poet Patricia Smith and author Brock Clarke are speaking Thursday at 6 p.m. at UT’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery.

Smith has won a variety of awards, including the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize and the 2017 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for her book “Incendiary Art.”

Clarke is author of seven novels, including "The Happiest People in the World" and "An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England." He’s also a teacher with the UT MFA program. He will be reading from a collection of short stories coming out this month called “The Price of a Haircut.”

Dawson said the conference is a great opportunity for Tampa to show off its literary and arts community. It’s also a chance for her students to hear from published authors.

“It’s so important when you’re a student to meet and talk to writers who are doing the things that you someday hope to do," she said.

For more information about the 2018 AWP Conference, including a schedule of speakers, click here.