Four of us MANOA staff members arrived in Minneapolis on Tuesday, April 7, for the 2015 AWP conference, held from April 9 to 11. We had organized two panel presentations and book signings and had reserved a booth at the book fair, which attracted about eight hundred exhibitors. Among other things planned was meeting our Singapore contributors, whom we had been corresponding with for many months.
On Thursday morning, we had a translation presentation, which I missed because I had to be at our exhibit booth when the book fair opened at 9 a.m. I heard that it was terrific and attracted an audience of about thirty people, most of them translators. On Friday, we had book signings by Andrew Schelling, translator of Bright As a Moon: Fifty Poems from the Sanskrit, and four of our Singapore contributors: Jeremy Tiang, playwright, translator, and member of Thursday's translation panel; Jason Lundberg, fiction writer, editor at Epigram Publishing, and founder of Lontar; Amanda Lee Koe, fiction writer and fiction editor for Esquire Singapore; and Jee Leong Koh, poet and founder of Singapore Poetry.
The opportunity to feature contributors to Starry Island: New Writing from Singapore inspired us to also organize a panel presentation, which AWP scheduled for the last day of the conference. We'd been working with writers in the issue since late 2013, and in 2014 we started promoting Starry Island to new readers. On Saturday, Jeremy, Jason, Amanda, and Jee read their work and spoke on Singaporean writing. Because of the small audience, the room felt cavernous, but the presentations were strong and well received. Jeremy, Amanda, and Jee had traveled from New York, where they are now living, and Jason, the American, had come all the way from Singapore. It was a pleasure to meet them, and we hope to renew the friendship sometime in the near future.