On AWP, Genre-Crossing, and Flash Fiction

The Los Angeles Convention Center, next door to the Staples Center, is an expansive building that resembles an airport, high-ceilings, people running to and fro, minus the baggage and with a bit more comfort, in the form of carpeting and space.

At the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Los Angeles, genre was in the air and writers, professor, undergraduates, and graduates, and editors were all a buzz about distinctions, some defending the boundaries, others breaking them down. In my own experience, I found that fiction writers were most interested, and inclined to, break down boundaries, arguing for writing across genres and exploring the potential for cohesion of genres.

My primary interest quickly became Flash Fiction. One poet, Sholeh Wolpe, shared a flash fiction piece published in Flash Fiction International, and later claimed, “this is a poem as much as it is a flash fiction story.” I agreed. The sharp images, the context, the narrative, all lend themselves to poetry as much as fiction. So where does the difference lie? In the line breaks? What about a prose poem? I think there is great room for exploration between these forms and genres and writers should explore how the similar and different components can cross genres and enhance either type of writing.

One Reply to “On AWP, Genre-Crossing, and Flash Fiction”

  1. Personally, I don’t know a lot about the craft of writing flash fiction, and I’m not super inclined to write fiction, but I do believe that some of the best writing is what takes the best from other genres, other traditions, and creates something new that respects both the old and the new. I am 100% an advocate for melding different forms, because what does a rigid formal structure or genre tradition really do but stifle creative expression?

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