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Boston was a beautiful location for the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). The weather, though, was a little less than lovely but provided a moment of hilarity when Colleen O’Connor and I found ourselves clinging to a light signal post on a corner trying to wait out the strongest wind that either of us have ever encountered. I am not exaggerating—we were clinging for dear life and hoping debris didn’t blow by and knock us unconscious.
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During the first two days of the conference, I spent a good deal of time inside, either at the Hynes Convention Center sitting at the Hotel Amerika or 1913 Press tables or attending an on-site panel or an off-site event. I also made my way around the bookfair, picking up contest fliers and buying books. I came away with quite a new reading list:
- The Vital System – Cm Burroughs (Tupelo Press)
- Bravura Cool – Jane Lewty (1913 Press)
- Dancing in Odessa – Ilya Kaminsky (Tupelo Press)
- Memory of the Prose Machine – Sandra Doller (Cutbank Books)
- Equivalents – Jessica Baran (Lost Roads Press)
- I Was Not Even Born – Wendy Xu & Nick Sturm (Coconut Books)
- Talk Shows – Monica De La Torre (Switchback Books)
- The Seattle Review – Vol. 2 & 3 2010
- The Transfer Tree – Karena Youtz (1913 Press)
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And the books that I didn’t buy—the ones I held back from buying, well that list is pages long. I’ll be saving up and doing some online shopping real soon.
I also spent my time meeting up with old friends from undergrad and from Columbia who have already graduated, as well as with former professors and fellow writers. I like catching up, hearing about everyone’s new projects, and supporting my friend’s journals and presses. AWP is really about the experience of being in the same city, the same room with writer’s whom you admire and who inspire you. It’s also a good chance to find out about writing contests and to flip through the pages of journals and books to see what work is being published by specific presses and whether or not your work is a good fit. This is important. I say again, THIS IS IMPORTANT. Before you inquire about submissions (at AWP and online), you should always read the work that the journal or press has previously published.
A highlight of the conference for me was seeing the fantastic four—Colleen O’Connor, Maddison Hamil, Matt Cwiklinski, and Micah McCrary—give a very engaging panel on Literary Translation. I felt quite proud sitting in the audience listening to my peers. They were articulate, informed, and delightful. Panels are tricky, because oftentimes people read directly from papers, but these fine four were prepared and engaged with the audience—no paper reading and lots of talking with their hands. Kudos to all of you!
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I attended several on-site and off-site readings, and here are a few highlights:
• Hearing work from Jane Lewty, Black Took Collective, and Charles Bernstein at the 1913 Press 10th Anniversary Reading
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• Wendy Xu and Nick Sturm reading from their collaborative work, I Was Not Even Born, at the Switchback/Coconut/Bloof reading
• Seeing Dean Young read at the Six Party Talk Reading
• When the weather finally cleared up and the sun came out on Saturday, Tatiana Uhoch, Micah, and I went out to explore the city. And, as Colleen says, “This city is FULL OF HISTORY!”
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