February 16, 2009

The Report from AWP

The Highlights...

-A panel on "Poetry and the Self" with Josh Bell, Erin Belieu, Carl Phillips, Rachel Zucker and D.A. Powell. There's no point in being didactic at an AWP panel, and these folks got that. Instead we heard meditative comments from each poet, illustrated by reading a selection from their own work. The styles were diverse enough to be interesting, but not so diverse as to be incoherent, and the panelists seemed to share a genuine affection and familiarity with each others' work. It really was the best panel I attended, with the one on "Poetry and Comix" as a close runner up.

-In a park across the street from the Hilton, people were constructing oversized and detailed snow sculptures.

-Bumping into Nate McClain and Ivone on the bookfair floor and having them kneel down, wave their arms over their heads, and declare "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" Gabe Fried of Persea looked on, perplexed. I'm hoping he thinks this happens to me all the time. It does not.

-2 PM Friday champagne toast with the Black Warrior Review folks to celebrate a gorgeous, gorgeous issue.

-The Anti-/Diode offsite reading, which included killer sets from Bob Hicok and Patrick Lawler; the reading was hosted in an old school building complete with men who operated the elevators.

-On Saturday afternoon my roommate texted me: "there's something for you in the business center :)" ...which turned out to be a Valentine's Day bouquet of gerber daisies and roses. Walking those through the lobby, I was giddy. And profoundly ready to be back home.

-Best swag award goes to Ali Stine's (working!) keychain mini-handcuff sets to promote her new book, Ohio Violence, which just came out from University of North Texas Press.

-Best loudmouthing award goes to Reb Livingston, nine times out of ten on any given night.

& The Confessions...

-Dan Nester described my scotch-drinking abilities as "hardcore."

-Alicia Ostriker is...passionate. By which I mean slightly scary. Don't call on her during the Q&A of your panel unless you are ready to fully defend any answer you give her.

-People got a big kick out of mocking the Poetry Foundation, which sponsored illustrated poem-videos to be played in the elevators in lieu of the usual CNN feed. You know what? Get over yourselves. No animals were harmed in the making of those videos, it was probably a huge thrill to the featured poets, and it was a genuine effort to make the Hilton experience conference-centric. Catty poets!

-If you did a double take when your eyes caught "The American Scholar" on my nametag and you suddenly seemed more interested in talking to me, I could tell. Seriously. So lame.

-Kim Addonizio responded to an introduction with "oh! you're the one who bought my thong!" amidst a large and listening-in crowd at one of the readings. Thanks Kim.

-I only left the hotel for ONE offsite program...and did no sightseeing. I was trying to save money. Beyond one Thai meal I lived off of apricot seeds, almonds, peanut butter pretzels, blueberries and the two asian pears I stuffed into my suitcase. One night my dinner consisted of walking across the street to buy a jar of salsa and a bag of corn chips.

-The salsa was black bean and corn. It was actually kind of an awesome meal.

-I wish I'd been the one to start calling the Irish bar "Shitty O'kays."

11 comments:

Collin Kelley said...

Great update. Reb...a loudmouth? Noooooo! lol

Anne said...

Sounds like we had similar AWP meal plans (mine featured trail mix, tuna-salad lunch kits, and little individual containers of organic peanut butter). I almost broke down & went to the hotel restaurant for an omelet or something on Sunday morning, but just couldn't quite bring myself to give them any more money than I already had...

Reb said...

I prefer to think of myself more as an "assertive speaker of doom"

Sandra said...

Reb, I hope you took that as the compliment I intended. = ) And Anne, we unite in the solidarity of self-contained meals! It was kind of ridiculous, but it saved me at least $100.

Collin, were you there? Did I miss you? Next time!

David Graham said...

Hey, I was at the Anti-/Diode reading, too! But didn't see you. . . . Oh, well. The AWP story: many ships passing in the night.

Reb said...

Sandra, of course, but I changed my mind. Please refer to me as an: upright verbal freedom fighter.

nate said...

It was truly awesome to finally meet you at AWP, Sandra. We truly are not worthy. Thanks so much for inscribing our copy of your book... you were an absolute pleasure to talk to... very gracious...

Matthew W. Schmeer said...

Are you sure it was your name tag they were looking at?

Yeah, I said it. Poets are such lechers.

Seriously, though, it was nice to meet you at AWP. I had no clue you were with The American Scholar. If I did, I probably would have been more crass (like just now, above). I'm like that.

Sandra said...

Matthew, it was really great to meet you. I knew we were kicking the party off right in yur company. = )

David, oof! We missed each other! But you'll be in Denver, right?

And Nate, it's easy to be gracious when someone is being so kind. Thank again.

~ said...

Sounds like a great time! Enjoyed your highlights...

Casey said...

Hey, in your run-down of AWP memories, you missed "introducing a young poet to his first glass of scotch."

Thanks again for the drink and conversation, and I hope your non-fiction writing goes well!