AWP round-up

Alright, I’m finally home, the conference is over, and I don’t have to get right back on the road to drive to Michigan and back to pick up the kid from the grandparents. I’ve also caught up on my grading so, for the first time in a couple of weeks, I have genuinely free time to sit down and work. So instead of doing that, I’m going to blog.

It was fun.  I went with the g/f and a couple of people from her program. We rode the metro for a few days, I wandered around the book fair(which was HUGE), saw a couple of sights, and went to all of two sessions, one of which I’ve already blogged and complained about.  First, I don’t see how this thing was all that stressful, but I’m also not a CW prof or an MFA student, so maybe I was necessarily out of the loop on that one.  I found the book fair enjoyable, engaging and fun. I bought WAY too many books, while also not buying enough.

I can’t help it. I feel like I, and everybody, needs to support these places when they can. If you don’t support them, they’re going to go out of business and that’s going to hurt all of us. However, I’m also not a huge poetry fan, so I don’t like buying a lot of lit mags because, well, they’re crammed full of poetry. So, instead, I bought books, including at least one book of poetry, largely because it reminded me of Rane Arroyo’s Roswell Poems and I got a free bendy alien with it. Awesome.

Speaking of swag, the g/f and I got a lot of pins, some pens, at least one notebook and a ton of little chocolate candies walking around the thing. Everyone is giving away something. Now we’re trying to figure out what to do with it all.

Before I sign off on this post, I do have some suggestions for anyone attending future AWPs. One, get a hotel either at the convention or right by a metro stop. It will make life FAR easier for you. Through sheer chance we stayed at a hotel that was a block and a half from a metro station and our lives were made easy because of it. We bought metro cards the first day and we got back and forth for everything the entire time we were there. Public transit is a godsend, take advantage of it and don’t bother with a car.

Two, go with a group. I couldn’t imagine making this trip (at least in a car) without at least a couple of other people going along. It’s fun, it’s lively, and there’s just so much crap to do, you need someone to do it with.

Three, if you have a job outside of writing, or something that doesn’t necessarily make room for things like massive writer conferences, do your best not to take any (or much) work with you. Through some events outside of our control, I was saddled with gobs of grading to do while I was there, and it just killed my schedule. While there were not a lot of sessions that peaked my interest, I would have had a difficult time going to them even if they did just  because of the massive amount of work that I had to get done. It also killed my chances at socializing. In fact, I think I irritated more than one person who plucked down in  a seat next to me when I continued to be bent over my laptop, correcting subject/verb disagreements rather than striking up conversation with them.

Fourth, pick your off-site events carefully. I’m not a huge fan of readings, especially in crowded, loud little bars. This just happened to be the only off-site event I went to.

Last, talk to people. That’s why you’re there. Talk talk talk. You might feel awkward at first but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And, if you don’t want to talk, just say “no, I’m not” when they ask if you’re a writer. You’ll get a weird look and that weird look is your chance to skirt away to some free hershey chocolates in the booth across the aisle.

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