New South @ AWP 2018 in Tampa: Hybrid Forms

By: Michael Stoneberg

One of the panels I attended at AWP was titled "Beyond Genre" which discussed, among other things, writing and publishing hybrid work. Two of the people on the panel, SJ Sindu and Geoff Bouvier, had recently been to Atlanta to give a reading and to work with some Georgia State creative writing students at our recent New Voices Conference, where myself and some of the other New South editors had connected with them. They both work in hybrid genres--Geoff writing Prose Poems and Sindu blending Fiction and Non-Fiction. Also on the panel were two editors of Presses that I really admire, Kathleen Rooney of Rose Metal Press and Todd Seabrook of The Cupboard Pamphlet. They all discussed the opportunities around writing in and publishing hybrid work. From the writerly standpoing, hybrid forms can be a liberating and empowering way for writers who have not often seen themselves represented in mainstream literary circles (writers of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, writers with disabilities, etc.) to express aspects of themselves that don't fit neatly into established genres. On the editorial side, Rooney and Seabrook talked about how difficult it can be to get presses and lit mags interested in hybrid work enough to publish it regularly, if at all, and both presses strive to create a space for hybridity, since they see it as important and exciting. One of the things I've been thinking about as Fiction Editor is ways to encourage and promote innovative, fresh prose while in this position. I'd like to see New South be a home to experimental work people haven't read before, and hearing these panelists gave me a lot of insight, as well as hope that this is, in fact, an achievable goal.