Share your favorite work-related memory.
There are so many, but one of our favorite is how our annual fish fry started. This was at our second Annual Winter Retreat in 2014. We sent someone out to the store to get a couple of fish for dinner. We’d already cooked, but we needed a couple more. That person came back with several bags of fish! What do you do when life gives you fish? Throw a fish fry! We were able to feed all of the poets and facilitators fish plates with hushpuppies. Everyone crowded in and around our cabin on couches, kitchen tables, picnic benches. We ended up playing card games and chatting. Many of the poets took turns at the frying pan. Everybody got as much as they wanted. And when we ran out of plates, people ate out of coffee filters, regardless of rank or position. It was such a bonding experience, and it all happened because someone bought extra fish.
How has AWP helped you in your career and creative endeavors?
Candace: In 2011, I attended my first AWP. At the time, I was a MFA student at USC and just trying to find her my voice in my writing. At AWP, I attended a panel during which the panelist shared work generated from their grant period, as well as information about the application process. The very next year, I was a Fulbright Fellow living in Colombia, South America. The important thing for me was that I was not simply inspired by the panelist; even more, the application process had been demystified for me. The goal was achievable, so I applied.
Who encouraged you to be a writer?
Monifa: Actually Nikky Finney. Before Nikky, I was a journaling my poetry privately while pursuing acting and hosting poetry venues. I loved the art, but I was far from a poet. A little over 15 years ago, a friend of mine took me on a surprise date to see Nikky read, and I was born. I remember spending the next few years with the vision of her at that podium as my muse.