AWP 2011 Conference Roundup

February 14, 2011

On Wednesday night, I visited the book fair to set up the 32 Poems table. The aisles were clear–a strange sight. I looked at the wide aisles with relief, remembering a previous AWP when we all squished into tiny aisles to reach the various tables. After setting up, I met a friend for dinner at The Lebanese Taverna, which I am sure all 6,000 attendees must have sampled at some point.

The next morning, John wrote to say he was stuck in Texas due to snow. One inch of snow in Texas is a big deal and evidently shuts down airports. (Yes, a Chicago person laughed at that.)

The Grist Magazine folks from Tennessee were nice to have as tablemates. Sharing a table makes me happy. It saves money, certainly, but I like how it forces us all to talk to people we might not meet otherwise. Our table, by the way, was within 20 feet of poles covered with ripped insulation, leading many people to speculate rats had been at work.

During the one panel I attended, the speakers claimed not to know they were supposed to talk as well as read. (Oh, no, another “reading” panel.) However, they did talk and one guy was able to pull a talk from a previous event out of his pocket. NOTE: If you do not know you are supposed to talk, should you mention that to the audience? I took notes on my mobile using Evernote–noticing that many others still use paper–and wondered if everyone thought I was a texting fool. I took digital notes on my phone in order to experiment with how I liked it, if Evernote trumped paper, etc.

On Thursday night, I was back at The Lebanese Taverna (we had reservations but it did not seem to matter) for dinner with a bunch of people. The host did not seem to take people in order, so one had to keep asking. He said the customers were taking a long time and lingering over coffee, so I asked him if he needed me to rough people up. He smiled, but humor did *not* get me a table. What got me a table was J., who managed to ask at the right time. The host looked confused, asked her if she was me, and then said we could have a table that had recently been cleared.

Meander. Meander. I spent a lot of time meandering and not as much as you might think at the 32 Poems table. I stopped and chatted with Eduardo Corral, caught a book signing with January O’Neil, met Kelli Agodon, walked around with Martha Silano (and bought her book), picked up a copy of Birmingham Poetry Review (with my poem inside), and bought books by various 32 Poems contributors. I also chatted with Melissa Stein (check out her new book Rough Honey), Dan Albergotti, Dan Nester (bought his book How to Be Inappropriate), Randall Man, and many others.

By the way, January O’Neil blogs her AWP “Confessions.”

Josh Corey talks book buying at AWP and blames Coffee House Press.

Jeannine Hall Gailey discussed how to survive NOT attending AWP.

Collin Kelley gives good reasons for not attending AWP on his Modern Confessional blog.

Kelli Agodon shares the open letter from Claudia Rankine.

Tin House shares the #AWP11 Twitter feed.

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