Hall Chat: AWP Is Over. Back to the Real World.


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So, I blogged about AWP a few weeks ago, and last weekend was the big event. 10,000 writers gathered in Chicago’s South Loop for the annual writing conference and now, on Monday, I am not sure whether I am glad it’s over or terribly sad. When I’m not sure about things, I like to use my favorite writing device: the trusty list. Let’s weigh out the pros and cons of AWP.

Pros:

  • Getting to see old friends from undergrad and friends that have already graduated from the MFA program at Columbia (this would be my poet MFA friends, as I am a member of the first class that will graduate from the Nonfiction MFA program)
  • Meeting new writers and visiting with one’s you’ve already met along the way.
  • Free books and books on sale and books and more books and did I mention books?
  • Off-site readings (these are mainly at bars and really cool venues all throughout the city that is housing the conference.)
  • Sitting at the 1913 press and Hotel Amerika tables and meeting a variety of different writers
  • Reading with Jenny Boully (okay, this doesn’t happen every year, but for me, it was the highlight of my AWP)
  • Vanessa Place & the Conceptual Women Writer’s panel. Check out the anthology, I’ll Drown My Book, from Les Figues Press and see why my jaw is still on the floor.
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Cons:

  • Too many fluorescent lights. Too many hours at a book fair table. Broken eyes.
  • Poor diet (though, as a Graduate student, this may have nothing to do with AWP)
  • So much walking and traveling from event to event (again, this should make me happy, because of the poor diet).
  • So much talking. (Ahem, no one has a voice come Monday).
  • Sweating. It’s so hot everywhere!
  • Dehydration. Again, lots of off-site events are in bars.
  • Nothing that you are supposed to be doing for the upcoming week gets done (i.e. writing, reading, grading, cleaning, grocery shopping, hygiene maintenance).
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The tiredness (from the walking and fluorescent lights) is not that bad, because it meant I got to go to readings, in bars, and hangout with all of my dear writer friends. So, those cons are canceled out by the two positives. And who needs a voice on Monday, right?! Oh and my diet certainly cannot be blamed on AWP. I live off of Doritos during the last weeks of the semester when there aren’t writing conferences in the South Loop. The cons just simply can’t beat out the positives. So, then, yes, I am terribly sad it is over, and it’s back to the real world. I am so very tired, and the Monday after was a very long day. When I walked through my front door at 6:30 PM, I collapsed into my bed and slept for two hours. But the thing about AWP is that it happens once a year. And, though I’m exhausted after four days of the conference, it is absolutely still my favorite holiday. Professional development and getting to hang with people who can geek out over etymology and white space and gender theories; my god, what could be better than that?

Um, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except maybe if they gave away complimentary Big Gulps at the panels. That would make things infinitely better.