Twitter Poet Party: Writers Conferences and Literary Festivals

April 3, 2011

This is my first time taking notes on a Twitter chat. As you may know, the “stream” of messages moves quickly on Twitter. How does one best encapsulate a Twitter chat? Tonight, I decided to take notes with the goal of providing an overall sense of what we discussed. I’ve included actual Tweets from participants and summarized suggestions into lists that should be easy to read. I used to paste the entire transcript into a blog post, yet that was a challenge to read.

Deborah Ager and Collin Kelley host the Poet Party, which was founded by Deborah in October. Tonight, host Collin Kelley got the ball rolling despite turning in his latest novel today.

At the Poet Party—which takes place every Sunday night at 9 pm ET on Twitter—we discussed the merits & opportunities of literary festivals and conferences. Are they worth the time and money? Which ones should a poet attend?

Poets from Virginia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan, Washington state, North Carolina, Minnesota, Maryland, Arizona, and Canada joined in the chat.

Regarding the popular AWP (Associated Writing Programs) Conference, Deborah at 32 Poems suggested a mix of planned events (dinners with friends and readings, for instance) and spontaneous activities. Laurel Snyder agreed and added, “Important to take deep breaths at AWP, get in some real content. Important to sleep, see friends…”

Each week, we ask a few questions to encourage conversation. This week, Collin asked:

Question 1: What literary conferences/festivals have you attended? What was your favorite?

@webbish6: Favorite poetry festival = Skagit Valley Poetry Festival Favorite Poetry Conference so far = Port Townsend Writer’s Conference

@katrinavanden: I loved Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. High-quality teaching, small, unpretentious, great food, evening readings at vineyards.

@randalljweiss: You might find the rate of alcoholism, mood disorders, and introversion per sq ft @ AWP impressive!

@collinkelley: Austin Poetry Festival can be fun. I went three years in a row. Complete poetry immersion.

Additional Suggestions (many from @laurelsnyder) Included:

AWP Conference

Decatur Book Festival

Sewanee Writers’ Conference

Dodge Poetry Festival

Skagit Valley Festival

League of Poets festival/conf in June in Toronto


CityLit Fest in Baltimore

Brooklyn Book Fest

Meacham Conference in TN


BookExpo America



Kindling Words


Iowa City Fest


Tuscon Festival of Books

From @collinkelley: A big list of conferences and festivals.

Q2 If you’ve been to a fest/conf – what was missing? What do you want more of? If you haven’t – what do you want?

@asininepoetry: I’d like more free wine at conferences. Also, more smaller, low-key readings rather than big ones.

@32poems: Another thing missing: a How To Do This Conference Guide. Seriously.

Outings: For instance, environmental conferences offer hiking or kayaking

Permission for Down Time: It’d be nice to have a time when nothing is going on.

At next week’s Poet Party, we’ll discuss National Poetry Month. If you are on Twitter and want to join the discussion, please follow the conversation on Sundays at 9 pm ET by using the hashtag #poetparty.

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