AWP’s mission is to encourage literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.
Because literature is a source of awareness and reflection, it is a medium for wisdom, creativity, and joy. Because literature maps our shared experiences, it is a builder of communities. AWP’s mission is as multidimensional as the writers we serve. AWP nurtures writers’ academic success and future employment, as well as provides unique opportunities for our members to network, enact positive social change, and build a vibrant national literary eco-system.
AWP began in 1967 as 15 writers representing 13 creative writing programs. With nothing more than a shoebox of index cards and a strong desire to advocate for the literary field, a small grassroots network of writers embarked on creating what has become the largest professional organization of creative writing programs in North America. At the time, there were under 80 recognized creative writing programs in higher education. Now, there are over 880 creative writing programs, and AWP connects and advocates for 50,000 writers, 550 college and university creative writing programs, and 150 writers’ conferences and centers.
Since 1967, AWP has placed the writer at the center of education in literature and writing. By supporting excellence in the practice of writing, AWP helped shape modern creative writing pedagogy, establishing standards and assessments of creative writing programs and nurturing the rapid growth and diversification of MFA programs nationwide.
AWP services include:
- The AWP Annual Conference & Bookfair, an annual gathering spaces for 12,000 writers, teachers and students of writing; the Bookfair features 800 small press exhibitors.
- The Writer’s Chronicle magazine, free to members, provides craft essays, interviews, and profiles of contemporary writers.
- Writer’s News, featuring news clipping and articles on the contemporary literary scene and issues affecting writers and writing.
- The Writer’s Notebook, an online forum, provides content that supports the writer’s life, including craft tips, career advice, teaching resources, and publishing opportunities.
- AWP Careers, which offers web articles and videos to better prepare writers for academic and non-traditional job markets as well as a job list providing current listings of jobs for writers.
- AWP Podcast Series, which features readings and literary panel discussions.
- AWP Award Series, which provides publication opportunities in all major genres.
- The Small Press Publishers Award, recognizes exceptional small presses.
- The National Program Directors Prize, which celebrates exceptional community literary arts programs and their staff.
- The George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature is given to writers who have performed exceptional service to their communities.
- The Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, a three-month mentorship series that pairs established and emerging writers for focused mentorships built around modules on craft, revision, publishing and the writing life.
- #WritersServe, an online network and resource center for writers and writing programs working in community settings, including homeless shelters, elder care facilities, prisons, hospitals, and afterschool programs.
AWP’s 50,000-strong membership encompasses writers at every stage of their careers, from Pulitzer Prize winners and tenured professors to community writing instructors and writing students. As a leading resource for the teaching of writing, AWP has a vital role to play in advancing equity and diversity and giving communities voice and access. This is critical because the literary arts give voice and form to culture and identity. As the noted, Latino scholar and cultural historian Tomas Ybarra-Frausto puts it: “When we stop to consider what culture really is, we realize its bedrock is the stories we tell about ourselves.”
By establishing inclusion and diversity as a centerpiece of its program benchmarks, AWP has helped build, and will continue to build, the diversity of academic creative writing programs. Yet, our community building efforts reach well beyond academia, and our new #WritersServe directory exemplifies this. #WritersServe, an online directory for locating community writing programs by region, will provide essential support for bringing writing out from behind the walls of institutions and into community settings. Take a look at our campaign to launch the new #WritersServe database below!