This year for AWP, I was lucky charmed.
I got to fly out to LA with my new friend and colleague, Jennie Case. We are often so busy with work that we don’t have time to just sit with a cup of coffee and have a roaming conversation. While we didn’t talk the whole way to LA, we did have lots of time to let the talking topics wander here and there. What a great way to start the journey.
On the flight, I did find time to read the Spring 2016 issueof North American Review (thank you for being a slim-line mag, not taking up too much room in the backpack). Of note to me were the following poems: Mark Wagenaar’s “Denton Nocturne: Sciomancy,” Raphael Dagold’s “Born of What,” Christine Larusso’s “In order to crack the egg…,” and Scott Lawrence-Richards, an Iowa poet with whom I wasn’t familiar (the horror!). Of course, the best moment was turning the page and finding “Most Accidents Occur at Home” by friend and fabulous writer-woman, Molly Spencer.
I spent several enjoyable hours on Thursday and Friday staffing the Trio House Press table. Much thanks to editors Tayve Neese, Terry Lucas, and Dorinda Wegener for making me feel welcome. THP is a collective, so serving at the table fulfilled part of my contract for publishing The Alchemy of My Mortal Form with them; however, I have to say it was not any kind of imposition. I loved getting to talk with poets wandering the bookfair, and I loved having the chance to talk about my book along with the books of my pressmates. If you stopped by the table, you’ll know that THP has a proactive approach to the bookfair, with someone standing in front of the table most of the time, engaging passers-by. Also, if you have a poetry manuscript ready to go, remember that our two contests accept submissions until April 30th.
When not at the table, I did get to several key panels spread out over the conference. The one that rocked my world the most was “The Poetry of Comics” with Erica Trabold, Bianca Stone, Gabrielle Bates, Alexander Rothman, and Catherine Bresner. Another awesome panel was on multimodal workshops with Raul Paima, Nick White, Silas Hansen, and Sonya Huber. Great information on using infographics, memes, podcasts, comics, Google maps, and more to engage the narrative skills in our students.
I also attending “Drawing Outside the Lines” with Lydia Conklin, Leslie, Salas, Nathan Holic, and Jarrod Rosello. Even more great information for my upcoming courses on the illustrated narrative, and I drew my first comic! I have gathered so many resources for this course that will be new to me. I have piles and piles to read and more books to order when I get home. Full up with ideas!
Thursday night meant a reunion with my University of Arkansas MFA best buddy, the poet Tara Bray, whose second book, Mothers of Small Fright, is just outfrom LSU Press. I consumed this book on the plane home. Do yourself a favor and order a copy today. Tara and I were able to fit in lots of catching up time in between events, as we roomed together, and that was one of the best gifts of this conference.
Friday night meant enjoying supper with great poet-friend Sally Rosen Kindred, who appeared on her first panel at AWP this year. Way to go, Sally! After supper, I was lucky enough to attend a reception and meet some of the key folks in AWP and in the new Creative Writing Studies Organization. It was way past my bedtime, but I’m happy I went and thankful for the new friends.
Saturday meant some open time and a more leisurely morning. It also meant me leaving my credit card at the hotel coffee shop and not realizing it until noon when I tried to buy lunch at the conference center. Much panic ensued. I sprinted back to the hotel, tore my room apart, and then saw the flashing light on the room phone. Hotel security had the card, and I was only 15 minutes late to the next panel because of the detour. Thanking the stars for good Samaritans!
I seem to be developing a trend that I need to have my final supper at AWP alone, my brain overflowing with words and images and people and hugs and emotions and “all the things.” I may look lonely to the outside viewer, but I promise that I’m perfectly content.
AWP is equal parts inspiration and exhaustion. This year was my 10th AWP, and I finally feel like I might understand a bit of how my own personality fits with this monumental filling up and overflowing, how to take care of myself and how to balance all the many options. So thanks to all the folks I saw in LA, I missed you to all those not able to attend, and looking forward to DC next year!