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Concordia to be prime sponsor of AWP Conference

Concordia College is the premier sponsor of this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference on April 8-11.

More than 13,000 writers will fill the Minneapolis Convention Center accompanied by more than 2,000 presenters and 700 booths at the book fair.

As the main sponsor, Concordia hopes to offer free registration for Concordia students. Upwards of 50 students have already signed up to attend. English Professor W. Scott Olsen expects the number to rise.

“With the conference so close, the interest skyrocketed,” Olsen said.

Olsen encourages everyone interested in reading, writing, journalism, editing, or publishing to attend.

To help pay for students’ expenses, the English department has set aside $2,000 from a department-restricted fund to divvy up among those attending, according to Dr. Jonathan Steinwand, Chair of the English department.

Concordia students should plan to arrive at the conference to hear the keynote address at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 9. Concordia’s own President William Craft will be giving the introduction.

Both Olsen and Assistant Professor of English Dr. Karen Babine have attended several AWP conferences. They would agree that this event makes networking possible for undergraduates. Many big names of the literary world will attend this conference and Babine said it’s rewarding to put faces to the names of favorite authors.

“Don’t worry about seeing and meeting everyone because you can’t,” Olsen said. “It is easy to feel like a little fish in a big pond. Soak it all in.”

Authors and publishers use this conference as an opportunity to promote their books and presses; connections are often made between aspiring writers and publication.

“Over dinner conversations, two of my books were born,” said Olsen.

Babine said several key professional and personal relationships sprouted from the AWP Conference.

Students who attend AWP for the first time should spend some time preparing for the conference and book fair. Olsen advises that students look through the program and set goals of what booths you want to go to at the book fair, decide who you want to talk to.

Babine said having goals is good but also give yourself time to just look around. Babine said the first thing you should do is check if your favorite writer is going to be there and if so, go get your book signed. “It’s a good way to start a conversation.”

Babine also suggests students attend as many panels as possible. Students should choose panels based on both topic and presenter.

“It’s a pretty big thing to be the name that is attached to this conference,” Babine said. “It will give us the opportunity to show people why Concordia is a great spot to come write.”

If you are planning to attend the AWP conference be sure to join the Facebook group, Concordia Cobbers @AWP.

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