Brookdale students who are members of the Creative Writing Club (CWC) have attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference and book fair for several years with Suzanne Parker, associate professor in the English department and the Creative Writing Club advisor.

Students Izzy Beach, Tiffany Goodman, Tate Hewitt, Indira Moscoso and Victor Ramon-Garcia accompanied Parker to Portland, OR in March for the conference. The AWP Conference is the largest literary conference in North America with more than 12,000 attendees, 800 exhibitors and 550 events.

“I feel so privileged to have been able to attend through Brookdale and the Creative Writing Club,” said Goodman, a Manalapan resident and philosophy major.

Goodman got involved with the CWC as soon as she registered for classes. A self-proclaimed lover of words, she was the president of the Poetry Club at Monroe High School.

She also writes poetry and lyrical essays. “I thought it would be a really cool opportunity and it would be interesting to travel with club members and to be in an environment totally surrounded by words,” said Goodman.

“I tried to take the opportunity to listen to as many voices that differed from mine.”

– Tiffany Goodman

Moscoso, a Freehold resident, said high school left her with little time to write, so she had gotten away from writing poems and short stories. However, joining the CWC encouraged her to get back into the practice. “With the Creative Writing Club I get to express my creativity freely which I had not done in years,” she said.

Goodman said the writing panel discussions were especially interesting.

“My favorites included several panels on politics in poetry, especially environmental politics and how important modern writing is even when it feels as though there are more important things to be doing,” said Goodman. “One panelist at an eco-poetry reading said something along the lines of ‘Why am I writing unimportant poems about flowers? Because perhaps poetry doesn’t save any lives but it does provide something to live for in a time when everything feels futile.’”

Goodman said a panel discussion connected to industrial mining was impactful.

“The panelists all had distinct relationships to mining in some way and spoke to those relationships throughout the reading. One woman had an implanted defibrillator in her chest and researched each of the metals inside of her and the unethical ways they were produced,” said Goodman. “She ended her piece by saying something like ‘This thing inside me has never saved my life and only ever damaged my body – Sometimes I wonder if it was worth it.’”

“With the Creative Writing Club I get to express my creativity freely which I had not done in years.”

– Indira Moscoso

Moscoso echoed Goodman’s sentiments about the events at the conference. “What inspired me was the sex positive, women positive panels,” Moscoso said. “Rachel McKibbens was so open about her feelings. I loved how brave she was.”

One of the most memorable events of the trip for Moscoso was meeting writer Ruth Irupé Sanabria who was a panelist at the conference. Irupé Sanabria spoke at the Carl Calendar Visiting Writer Series in April. Moscoso and fellow Creative Writing Club member and friend Ramon-Garcia were in front of Sanabria and her parents in line. When Moscoso and Ramon-Garcia realized who was behind them, they immediately began to praise Sanabria’s works. “We were so excited to meet her and told her what a great writer she was,” Moscoso explained.

When Sanabria visited Brookdale, she told Moscoso what a tremendous impact their meeting at the AWP Conference had on her life. “She said that our reaction to meeting her made her father finally acknowledge her as a writer. It was our enthusiasm that made her father understand the importance of her writing,” Moscoso explained.

Goodman said she and her fellow attendees shared advice, tips and knowledge they gained from the conference with CWC members.

“I tried to take the opportunity to listen to as many voices that differed from mine. At first that challenge frightened me but by the end of it I learned the most from the voices I had to struggle to understand,” said Goodman.

Photo Caption:

Brookdale students pictured left to right: Izzy Beach, Indira Moscoso, Tate Hewitt, Victor Ramon-Garcia, and Tiffany Goodman at the AWP conference in Portland, OR.