Free Literary Fun

When the AWP Conference comes to town, bookish events abound.

Free Literary Fun

Spring 2017 brings a veritable conference conundrum to DC-area lit lovers. In addition to Barrelhouse’s Conversations and Connections conference on April 22, and the author-and-agent-studded Washington Writers Conference/Books Alive 2017 on April 28-29, our region will be graced with one additional gathering of writers, educators, presses, lit mags, and books, books, books: AWP 2017! The venerable Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) is celebrating its 50th year at their conference in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8-11.

Yes, I have a soft spot for both of the April conferences, but come on, AWP doesn’t drop into our back yard every year. This will be an incredible opportunity to hear and connect with writers and literary organizations from around the world. If the full program seems overwhelming, however, and the registration fee doesn’t into your budget, you can still attend the offsite events. These readings are organized in conjunction with — but not by — AWP. And for the most part, they’re free!

For zero bucks, you can listen to writers from all corners of the globe, sample work from well-known literary journals, and discover publications you’ve never heard of. Or you can soak up a concentrated dose of the literary stars right here in the region and follow them throughout the year.

The following FREE events happening next month feature DC-area authors and/or organizations (all event descriptions cribbed from AWP listings):

Wednesday, February 8th

6:30-8 p.m.

Key West Literary Seminar Alumni Reading
East City Bookshop
645 Pennsylvania Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20003
Five award-winning alumni — Paula Whyman, Amina Gautier, Jay Desphande, Sam Slaughter, and Theodore Wheeler — of the Key West Literary Seminar workshop will read.

7 p.m.

Animal Fiction: C.S. Malerich and J. Bowers
One More Page Books
2200 N. Westmoreland St., #101
Arlington, VA 22213
C.S. Malerich and J. Bowers read to celebrate the release of Ashland Creek Press's 2016 anthology, Among Animals 2: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction.

8-10 p.m.

4th Annual Rock and Roll Reading
Vinyl Lounge
3401 K St., NW
Washington, DC 20007
Twelve writers — including Danielle Evans, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Ashley Strosnider, Porochista Khakpour, and Justin Tussing — will read rock-and-roll-inspired work for three to four minutes each, the length of a song. After, La Guerre will play a solo set.

Thursday, February 9th

5-6:15 p.m.

University of Virginia Alumni Reading
Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
600 I St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
A reading by alumni of the University of Virginia Creative Writing Program featuring Whiting Award-winning poet Safiya Sinclair and our two National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" winners from 2016, Gregory Jackson and Thomas Pierce.

9-10 p.m.

Cherry Tree & Eckleburg Issue Launch Reading
Busboys & Poets
1025 5th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Please join us for an offsite reading celebrating the launch of the newest issues of Cherry Tree & The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review! This event features readings by Nate Brown, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, L Ann Dulin, Vipra Ghimire, Rajiv Mohabir, Lynn Melnick, Julie Marie Wade, and Phillip B. Williams.

9 p.m.

Steamroller: Women of Color in the Literary World
Driftwood Kitchen
400 H St., NE
Washington, DC 20002
Steamroller: Women of Color making and taking space. Art exhibit by local WOC artists and a reading by poets Mahogany L. Browne, Cynthia Oka, Yesenia Montilla, and Seema Reza. Located on the second floor.

Friday, February 10th

3-5 p.m.

Kick-ass Writers and Teaching Artists 
Busboys & Poets
1025 5th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Fair Treatment for Adjuncts in Higher Ed: Claudia Cortese, Roy Guzman, Chen Chen, Jen Knox, Melissa Studdard, Vandana Khanna, Richard Peabody, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Octavio Quintanilla, Kaveh Akbar, and Cynthia Atkins read poems and fiction in solidarity with part-time educators. 

6-7:30 p.m.

Lines + Stars/L+S Press Reading
Bossa Bistro + Lounge
2463 18th St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
Washington, DC-based literary journal Lines + Stars will host a reading featuring Diana Smith Bolton

Saturday, February 11th

4-6 p.m.

The Return of All Killer, No Filler: A Reading by The RS 500 and The Collapsar
(Note: I don’t know if DC-area readers will be involved in this one, but it looks fun!)
Walls of Books
3325 Georgia Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20010
Another off-site reading featuring more of your favorite writer friends and celebs doing what they do best: making you laugh, think, cry, and sing. Featuring work from the RS 500 and the Collapsar Full list of readers forthcoming. Tell your friends: it's the return of…All killer. No filler.

7 p.m.

Cold, Dark Flash: An Evening of Noir Flash Fiction
(Full disclosure: yours truly is reading in this one.)
The Pub and the People
1648 N. Capitol St., NW
Washington, DC 200102
Washington, DC, is COLD in February. So why not warm up with some dark, steamy flash fiction? Join SmokeLong Quarterly and D.C.’s Noir at the Bar for an off-site AWP reading of noir flash fiction. With Matt Bell, Tara Campbell, Rob Hart, W. Todd Kaneko, Jennifer Pashley, Amber Sparks, and Art Taylor. Hosted by Tara Laskowski and E.A. Aymar. Music by DJ Alkimist.

Apologies to any local events I’ve missed. Feel free to add them in the comment section. And for those of you attending the full AWP Conference, stop by the Independent’s booth (#686) and say hi!

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