awplogo.gif 17.2 KApril 1999

Dear Conference Attendee:

Avid readers know many special towns that are populated, not only by local citizens, but by fictional characters as well. If you visit these towns, you can't help but to wonder how these places shaped certain authors and their stories; and you can't help but to feel how the authors shaped, cherished, satirized, and enriched those places in return. Charles Dickens's London, Marcel Proust's Combray, Victor Hugo's Paris, James Joyce's Dublin, John Steinbeck's Salinas, Dawn Powell's downtown New York, James Baldwin's uptown New York, Flannery O'Connor's Milledgeville, and Anne Tyler's Baltimore--these are a few of the places with a legacy of storytelling so strong that our lives seem best lived--somehow more meaningful, genuine, and true--wherever and whenever our lives participate in fiction. We are lucky to be holding this year's AWP Annual Conference in one of these special towns: William Kennedy's Albany.

As more towns begin to resemble other towns, lit by the same corporate signs, surrounded by similar mall-sprawl, it's reassuring that books preserve our history--the particular moods, weather, buildings, characters, accents, and faces--of where we live and where our parents and their parents lived. While the global marketplace effaces and homogenizes our cultures, and while our businesses, governments, and even our universities often prioritize fields of knowledge by each field's prospects of making money, it's our happy fortune to gather in a city made special by making stories, by making art. Surely, if there's any reason for a marketplace to thrive, it must be to improve the art by which we know ourselves, our times, and our communities. There is no forgetting in a literary town like Albany that art makes our lives worth living.

In addition to the sponsors listed on the facing page, the Mayor and the City of Albany have given generous support to this conference. I'm glad to tell you that our conference has never enjoyed stronger support from a host city; this speaks well for Albany, a city that has, not only the will to improve its commerce, but the heart to improve its spirit and culture as well.

Happily, too, our association now includes more lovers of literature with whom we can celebrate books and writers along with all the readers, publishes, booksellers, teachers, students, administrators, and philanthropists who tend to our literary culture. This will be the Associated Writing Programs' largest conference ever. AWP now serves 16,000 writers, teachers, and students; 294 colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.; and 80 writers' conferences and festivals.

Thank you for participating in the 1999 AWP Annual Conference.


David Fenza
Executive Director
The Associated Writing Programs
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NYS Writers Institute AWP Events
1999 Complete Conference Schedule
Associated Writing Programs