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Writers are taking over Minneapolis this week for annual conference and book fair


Thousands of writers, editors, publishers, students and professors will be in Minneapolis this week for the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference, which means big money for the local economy.

AWP's conference and book fair is the largest of its kind in North America, according to AWP. The event runs from Wednesday-Saturday and is expected to attract more than 12,000 people to the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The conference is so big it is expected to rake in $28 million for the local economy as attendees visit local establishments throughout the weekend, the Star Tribune reports.

There will be over 2,000 presenters and 550 different scheduled events over the four-day event, AWP notes, which include readings, panels and craft lectures on topics that range from using social media, to a group of poets who perform popular poems as doo-wop songs, the Star Tribune says.

Karen Russell, whose novel "Swamplandia!" was picked by the New York Times as one of the "Ten Best Books of 2011," will be the conference's keynote speaker. Other featured presenters include Minneapolis' Louise Erdrich and Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, among many other literary stars.

Attendees must register for the conference (tickets start at $190 for the entire weekend – it's cheaper for students and seniors).

There are also dozens of off-site events that are free and open to the public this weekend, including happy hours, writing seminars, readings and even a literary death match.

Don't have a Masters in Fine Arts? MSP Magazine says that's ok – the publication has a non-writers guide to the conference. Bustle also has a list of what to do to avoid a "literary burnout" during the jam-packed weekend, which includes visiting off-site events, and Gray Wolf Press has a guide to independent bookstores people should check out while not attending events.

Each year the AWP conference and book fair is held in a different North American city to celebrate authors, teachers, writing programs, literary centers and small press publishers of the region, AWP notes. Next year the conference will be held in Los Angeles, and it may return to the Twin Cities in 2020, the Star Tribune says.

AWP was established in 1957 with the mission to "foster literary achievement, advance the art of writing as essential to a good education and serve the makers, teachers, students and readers of contemporary writing." The nonprofit has grown to support a community of more than 50,000 writers and 500 colleges and universities.

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