What a week. AWP 2011, hosted in Washington DC, was again a whirlwind experience, and again an event for which I am so pleased to have connected with friends and colleagues from around the country and beyond.
I must first offer thanks to a number of people who made my presence in the bookfair a success: Celeste Gainey, Tod Goldberg, Clark Knowles, Patsy Sims, Jim Warner, Kobbie Alamo, Deb Henry, Debra Allbery, David Stevenson, and Winona Wendth were all so wonderful in helping out at the table for The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students. You all rock and I thank you so much for your time, enthusiasm, and support during the bookfair.
Thank you, also, to Millicent Borges Accardi who worked the table while promoting and selling (many copies!) of her recent poetry books. Millicent was a lively and engaging addition to the bookfair space and I owe her gratitude for helping out with some of the time slots during the conference.
I am so pleased that ALL copies of The Low-Res Handbook I brought along and shipped sold out! I was empty handed by early Saturday morning and I am just so thrilled with the response. It was great to meet prospective, current, and past students, and others interested in picking up the guidebook or just chatting about their experiences. The programs featured in the book were all very supportive of the coverage they received and overall I don’t think I could have asked for a better response from this conference.
I loved that my table was in view of Los Angeles Review, as it meant I was able to wave to poetry editor Kelly Davio and also have a convenient way to connect with LAR and Red Hen folks including Eleonora Nord and Joe Ponepinto. I also met the charming publisher and editor of Paul Dry Books (who also helped me out with some much-needed tape on Day One!); it’s always nice to have good bookfair neighbors.
There was no shortage of people stopping by the table to see me and I am so grateful to put faces to names for many ‘online friends’ finally. I’m glad Sheila Lamb popped by, author Claudia Manley, and I was lucky to flag down the beautiful duo Ned Balbo and Jane Satterfield. It was also nice to see Valerie Wetlaufer and Georgia Ann Banks-Martin! There was so much traffic at the table, I have to give a blanket thank you to all for stopping by, as it’s just too long of a list to name everyone.
When I finally had a chance to make my rounds in the bookfair, it was lovely to chat with Kevin Morgan Watson (publisher/editor of Press 53), Kitty Lewis (Brick Books), the crew at NewPages.com, Leslie Maxwell (the lovely and talented nonfiction editor at Phoebe who worked with me on a recent piece), the joyous Accents Publishing table, and Marie Gauthier and Jim Schley from Tupelo Press, to name but a few. It was also great running into Richard Nash (Cursor) and poet Molly Peacock, and so many other folks I wish I could name them all.
Thanks to Andrew Gray, director of UBC’s optional-residency MFA program, I also learned about the development and launch of CCWWP – the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs conference that is planned for May 2012 in Toronto. Wonderful news!
Speaking of MFA programs, I understand there are five (!) new low-res programs possibly in the works: Arcadia University (PA), St Mary’s College of MD, Union Institute & University (OH), U Tampa, and … John Cabot University (Italy). Wow. Definitely some great things in the works I’ll be checking into as time rolls on.
The panel I moderated Friday morning was a great success thanks to panelists Meg Kearney, Kathleen Driskell, Tod Goldberg, and Michael Kobre. Thank you for making this a fruitful discussion and thanks to all fifty attendees for adding to the discussion. Thanks also to Jim Warner, assistant director of the program at Wilkes, for contributing some comments about innovative social media usage by their MFA program. Jim also hosted a pretty awesome poetry slam event which I was pleased to attend!
In the bookfair I picked up lots of books and journals, plus a fun bag from Harvard Review and of course I managed to subscribe to enough zines and journals to keep my postal carrier cursing. Speaking of magazines, it was lovely to again connect with Jeff Reich from The Writer, whose table cleared a ton of freebie magazines!
Overall, AWP in Washington was a great time and I’m already looking forward to Chicago in 2012. Due to this year’s success, I’m thinking of booking a table in the bookfair and will be looking to offer a few guest signings and promotional opportunities to fellow writers. Stay tuned for more info as the time draws near.
Thanks, again, to all who made this conference a hit. It was great to connect with so many friends and colleagues and I hope you all had a memorable time in Washington.