Monday, February 7, 2011

AWP Notes and Reflections

34º ~ two inches of snow and still falling, no wind, so beautifully covering each tree branch, down to the smallest, must be some ice/hoarfrost in there too ~ BUT, we are having school, roads are wet and slushy but temps to rise all day, so hopefully no ice

This AWP report may be a bit more quick than I'd like as I have three long days ahead of me at school, putting on our Division's portion of the Student Success Fair.

~On the plane, read Copper Nickel 15 and loved poems by Natalie Eilbert, Kyle G. Gargan, Traci Brimhall, Josh Robbins, Suzanne Frischkorn, Anna Journey, Ashley Tolivaer, and Susan Grimm.  Yep, that means I loved almost every poem in the issue.  Go and subscribe to this awesome journal ASAP.  The art is awesome too.

~Thursday night, lost luggage, a quick cab ride, and arrival at the Omni.   So tired from all the travel delays, I just went to the Omni bar for a burger and sent out an invite to anyone who could find me.  Luckily, Josh Robbins was free and joined me for an hour.   We talked book strategies and shored up each other's patience, as we are both waiting for the HAPPY CALL. 

~Luggage arrived at midnight, the kindest valet ever brought it to my room. 

~Friday morning, began at the bookfair, meeting old friends and finally getting to do a real-time meet with some FB and blogging friends.  Many of the pictures from the last two days were taken here.  The one major problem with arriving a day late is that I felt rushed everywhere and I didn't get to see as much of the bookfair as I wanted.

~Friday morning panel: The Houghton-Mifflin reading to honor Michael Colliers as the poetry editor.  Here were Andrew Hudgins, Linda Greggerson, Leslie Harrison, Rodney Jones, and Maurice Manning all reading.  I have video clips of Rodney and Manning and hope to figure out how to post them soon.  Let me just say SPECTACULAR.

~Lunch with my good friend Al Maginnes, who brought along Brett Ralph, who I'm now happy to call my friend as well.

~Friday afternoon, more bookfair time, more shaking hands and getting hugs, more pictures.

~Friday afternoon panel: The Hollins Reading. I went to this to hear Luke Johnson read and also got to hear Jeanne Larson, David Huddle, Madison Smartt Bell, Jill McCorkle and Karen Salyer McElmurray.  This was a cool reading as each panelist read one short piece of their own and then read from selections of other graduates of the program.  A true retrospective of the past 50 years.  I also have a video clip of Luke reading "Poinsettias."  Watch for it in the near future.

~Friday afternoon drinks with Charlotte Pence and Adam Prince, joined by Chelsea Rathburn and Jim May, and a few other folks.  Adam and Chelsea were my contemporaries at Arkansas, so it was wonderful to get a chance to catch up.  Interestingly enough, they both married spouses who published my poems (Charlotte in Grist and Jim in New South) before we all made the connections.

~Friday evening, Tupelo Press reception at a cute little French restaurant across the street from the hotel.  Getting to see Marie Gauthier in person was great after knowing each other so long on blogs and FB, along with all the great readings by Tupelo writers.  Lovely end to the day.

***Many people comment on what a big PARTY AWP is.  I'd just like to say that that isn't my AWP.  I'm not built for the long nights, even with not drinking anymore.  My body & brain reached a point at the Tupelo reception where I knew I had to go back to the hotel and crash.  Yes, this is a FUN conference, but it is also IMPORTANT for the writers as we re-connect, meet new folks & new journals/presses, go to panels that provide ideas to bring back to our home institutions, and it provides us support and inspiration for the year.  It is a party, but a party with a purpose.

~Saturday morning was bookfair and a chance to meet up with Martha Silano (another blogger friend) to swap books and stories.  We bumped into Kathleen Ossip, who is a friend of Martha's and I was glad to be able to tell Kathleen how much I like her work. 

~Saturday morning panel:  Outreach for Forming a Literary Community on a Community College Campus.  EXCELLENT.  I'm filled to the brim with ideas and thank each panelist for what he or she brought to the table.  Expect a longer post about this soon, as I'll be doing a presentation on it back at PTC.

~Saturday Lunch at the bookfair, more handshaking and story-exchanging, more fermenting of links and inspirations.

~Saturday afternoon, meeting with Patrick Hicks.  We were supposed to swap books, but I was out of mine.  So, I owe Patrick a copy and got to bring home his newest book from Salmon Poetry, This London. Patrick and I are FB friends, and it turns out he graduated one year before me from St. Ben's/St. John's.  After much conversation, we finally figured out which key ENGL class we had in common (S. Mara's contemporary lit class... Tim O'Brien!) and we drafted a plan for a proposal to read at CSB/SJU in the next two years or so.  It was great to revisit the past in this way and solidify a friendship with a brother Johnnie.

~Saturday afternoon, Diet Cokes with Al Maginnes and guess who should wander by all bleary eyed from just waking from a nap: Brett Ralph.  Al and I did some Fayetteville reminiscing, with him telling stories from the 80s and me from the 90s/00s.  We have lots of mutual connections.  Al is definitely one of my friendly faces, an AWP touchstone.

~Saturday afternoon, another quick trip to the bookfair to check in with Mary Biddinger and run a panel proposal idea by her for AWP 2012.  I think Mary should be voted QUEEN OF AWP as she seems to know everyone and be everywhere and run on limitless supplies of energy.  And she's an awesome, generous, and kind person. 

~At this point, Dear Readers, I hit another wall and also felt a bit sick, so I had to cancel on the evening plans which included dinner with my Anhinga family.  I just couldn't do it. 

~Desperately sad at all the people I didn't get to see, and there were many, especially Tara Bray and Kristin Berkey-Abbott.  Ah well, that's why they have AWP every year. 

~Sunday, VERY early, out to DCA for my flights home.  After all the drama of earlier in the week, everything went smoothly Sunday.  My cab driver was a wonderful man from Ethiopia who was at the end of his shift, and I think talking to keep himself awake.  It turns out he loves poetry.  He told me that in his country poets are revered as the most talented writers.  You know, fiction and short stories, well...anyone can make up a story, but poets, they have big messages in the fewest words, wrapped in images.  WOW.  Best cab ride of my life.  I was just sad that I didn't have a copy of Blood Almanac to give him.

~Oh, I did get stopped to have my backpack searched as it was too cluttered for the x-ray machine.  My power cords looked a bit suspicious.  It was cool to see them swab my electronics and stick the swap in the sniffer machine.  All lights went green for good and I was off to my gate.  On the way home, I read issue two of Booth, a journal from Butler University and one I plan to read again.  Very nicely done.  I also managed to draft the beginnings of two poems, one of which is a new Cautionary Tale...this one for "Girls Caught Up in the Machinery."  Lots of good energy there.  Woo Hoo.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.  I'm off to school early, still making the transition from that other-worldly time & space of AWP back to reality.  I SIMPLY CANNOT WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR! 


Kathleen said...

Thanks for this wonderful report!

Glad you are home safe. Loved the cab ride.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hey, Kathleen! Thanks. Sorry I haven't had time to comment on your posts...hopefully back at is soon.

Matthew Thorburn said...

Hi Sandy, I'm sorry I missed connecting with you at AWP -- it all goes by in such a blur. And I was even at that Houghton Mifflin reading too. What a great reading!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Matthew, thanks for stopping by. Next year, let's make a better plan for coffee or something. Glad you were also at the H-M reading. Stellar. That freedom summer villanelle by A. Hudgins was out of this world.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for the great recap, Sandy! I hope to see you at AWP Boston. (2013!) And I'm so happy to hear you enjoyed my poem in the new Copper Nickel. xo

Sandy Longhorn said...

Suzanne, it is a great poem. Congrats on the publication!

SuziG said...

So sorry we didn't see you at AWP, but It was just as we suspected-- we were in totally different panels! Robert and I also got sick--maybe it's that crazy Northern air. Also, we had the greatest cab drivers we've ever had there. They pointed out sites and discussed education and everything in the world with us. Also, the service at the Omni was amazing!! Looking forward to AWP 2012 in Chicago--too bad it's not during baseball season :(. Still, I want a picture with you in front of Wrigley Field. Let's do dinner again soon and compare AWP notes.

Suzi G

Sandy Longhorn said...

Hey, Suzi! I did spot you once as you went down toward the bookfair and I was crossing the lobby. I was at the OMNI too...wonderful.

Yes to dinner. Send me an email when you're ready to plan.

Luke said...

Great update, Sandy! It was great meeting you in person. Sorry we didn't get to catch up again after seeing you at the bookfair. Watch your inbox!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Luke, I felt the same way. Looking forward to our conversation.