19 February 2009

What AWP Means to Me

Here, at long last, is my AWP post mortem. I'm going to do it in bullet points, if that's okay with you. Only without the bullet points. I'm postmodern like that.

AWP 09 Chicago was my favorite AWP ever. My evaluation involves a very sophisticated formula that weighs location, quality of panels (attended or avoided), professional accomplishments (like selling a shitload of books), offsite involvement, people met, cheeks kissed, hugs delivered and received, and overall sense of good will. As far as location goes, I still prefer Atlanta, which was like heaven on earth to me. But overall this was a great AWP.

This was my last AWP of only wearing three hats: editor, professor, poet. Next year I will be adding program director to that pile. I hope the program director hat has a lot of sequins, and stays in place while I shake it on the dance floor. If not, I will make the necessary modifications.

Since this AWP was in Chicago I figured I'd see all my old peeps. But I only saw most of my old peeps for thirty seconds! This was due to all of the conflicting offsite events, and other nonstop programming. Not to mention the lack of elevator bump-into time, aside from a last minute meetup with Kristy and Daniela in the Hilton. The whole time I'd been wondering when I would see them.

AWP always makes me thankful for my friends. This AWP made me realize that it's never too late to make new girlfriends. Somehow I used to think that all girl bonding ended after freshman year, popping popcorn in the dorm. It's not true! I love my Pittsburgh girls Laura, Crystal, and Margaret, and I am so thankful for our interstate friendship.

Among the revelations at this year's AWP: boy, am I glad that I'm in this field rather than in something where quirkiness isn't acceptable. I really don't consider myself to have an administrative side or a professorial side or an editorial side or a poet side (or a blogger side, for that matter). It's all just me. I am so thankful to be in a creative field where I can be my zany self.

I love being an editor. You have no idea how sweaty and anxious and exhilirated I was in the bookfair, peddling titles from the Akron Series in Poetry. It's such an honor working with our authors, and getting the word out about our book series. If you didn't pick up a brochure, our guidelines are here. Your manuscript will be in good hands at Akron. I'll sweat through multiple black sweaters for it.

This AWP also made me excited about my poems, and my new manuscript that's starting to peek out into the world. If there's anything I need to work on ASAP it's promoting my own work a little more. Michael Meyerhofer, my new Steel Toe Books brother, has Blue Collar Eulogies coming out very soon. We're going to be putting together a kickass teaching guide for instructors who want to use our books together. It will include interviews, creative writing prompts, essay writing prompts for use in composition, literature, and creative writing courses, and much more. See, I'm promoting my own work here (albeit while promoting someone else's).

I love offsite readings, whether I'm reading or not. The diode/Anti- reading was the highlight of my trip. What an honor to read with those folks, and to look out into the audience to see so many poets who I admire. I am surprised that I didn't swoon. Many thanks to Patty and Steve for setting it all up.

At this AWP I realized that people read this blog. Thank you for reading this blog, and for stopping to say hi! It's funny, because just about all of the bloggers I've met are just like the people I've imagined them to be. Often they're even cuter in real life, too! I want to squeeze the heck out of them. Oh Anne Haines, you are such a delight! And Brent Goodman! You guys are making me exceed my exclamation point quota!

When I got back I had an AWP hangover. A figurative one, not a literal one. I spend so much time preparing, shipping things with Freeman and painting my toenails, that it's a downer to come back to all the things that have been put off. Now I'm moving into the good memories mode, as I become rehydrated.

I know you've been waiting to hear which picture I will deem the best of AWP 09. Below please find my favorite, taken by John Gallaher on the #22 bus in Chicago. I think this just about sums it up. I like how this looks like a painting of mannequins. Or at least it does to me.

Goodbye, AWP 09. I had one really good meal, and a lot of hors d'oeuvres, some fine jack & diet cokes, and a wonderful time. Next year it'll be in Denver, the land of all my relatives, the conference of even more hats.


Frank (the Colt) said...

How about how awesome Barn Owl 2 did? You know the one with the crossword puzzle.

Lyle Daggett said...

I was at AWP this time around (just my second time going), floated past the Akron table two or three times over the three days of the conference. Didn't spot you there, at the table or elsewhere (at least based on your blog photo and people's name tags), would have enjoyed saying hello.

Overall had a good time there, even when I got pretty exhausted toward evening each day. I've blogged about it here if you care to have a look.

Enjoyed the photos in your previous post below.

John Gallaher said...

I like all of your hats, but I'm mostly glad to hear you talking about your poet hat. It's so easy for poets who also edit to lose their poet hat is the large editorial closet.

I've spoken with a lot of poet/editors over the years who talk about this. And they never say "I wish I would have edited more."

WV: tosphro

John Guzlowski said...

This was my second AWP, and I enjoyed it much more than the first. I think the first one overwhelmed me--there seemed like there was too much to see, hear, do, and say.

There was as much going on at this one but I didn't feel like I had to be attentive to everything.

That made it more pleasurable.

And thanks for coming to the Polish-American writers reading. I know that John Minczeski and I both appreciated it.

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