AWP REPORT 3: They say third time's a charm, and that must have been the case because this was a pretty good day at the conference, although still hectic and overcrowded. I made some good connections, met some more bloggers (hi Aaron Smith!), and caught up with my old friend Teresa Lyons.

This morning began with the Atlanta Rainbow Muse reading with Franklin Abbott, Larry Corse, Theresa Davis and Robin Kemp. I was thrilled to have the great Marilyn Hacker in the audience and some other brave folk who not only got up early, but sat through the reading in a stifling hot room. For whatever reason, maybe heat delirium, I thought we only had 45 minutes for the reading, when we actually had an hour. I made Theresa and Robin cut their sets short, and I cut mine as well. Doh! Everyone was great at the reading, and my thanks for coming out and sharing your work.

After the reading I went back downstairs to the book fair to kill time before my Poets & Writers panel. I wound up relieving Dan Veach at the Atlanta Review table for a bit. Kay Murphy and Judith Ortiz Coffer, both great poets, came by to say hello. The panel on how to start, sustain and fund a reading series was lively. Besides me, there was Megan Sexton from Five Points, Marc Fitten from Chattahoochee Review and Rochelle Spencer from Spelman College. Bonnie Marcus moderated. We had about 20 or so folk in the audience, more than I expected, and it was funny how Marc and I were on either ends of the spectrum. He's fairly cynical and honest about the readings he puts together being to promote the journal, whereas I am not affiliated with a university or mag, so mine is more grassroots. I'm doing it for the love, baby.

Back at the book fair, I chatted for a bit with Sarah Johnson from Kennesaw State University Press. I've put them on my list of possible places to submit Wake when it's finished. Maybe the lack of circulation or the florescent lights were finally getting to everyone, but the vendors started folding up shop mid-afternoon and by 4 p.m., most everyone had left. Those who stayed behind had slashed all the books to $5 and some were giving stuff away. That was my signal to go home and rest for a couple of hours.

This evening, I went over to Apache Cafe for the "100% Dynamite Blow Up" reading featuring poets from four indie publishers: No Tell Books, Octopus Books, Black Ocean and Pilot Books. It was standing room only and such a breath of fresh air to see all these great poets performing outside the hotel. These are the grassroots presses who are publishing challenging work from new voices. Reb Livingston's No Tell poets were hilarious...sometimes unexpectedly. Hats off to everyone who organized this event. It ended my AWP experience on a positive note.

I can now say my AWP cherry has been popped.


Anonymous said…
Hey Collin, it was great to chat for a few minutes in the lobby with you. I am back in Nebraska (left this morning) with an overstuffed suitcase even though I swore I was only going to LOOK at the book fair this year. AWP is its own strange animal. It seems infused with great neediness, overstimulation, frenzy and some really wonderful talks. I am glad I went, but I am ready for sleeping and walking in the woods, now. (The Italian place was good, by the way, and the service was excellent, especially compared to the freaky behavior of the staff at the Indian place the night before!)

- Kelly in Nebraska
Anonymous said…
Sounds like to much work to me. But im a slacker. Glad it got better at the end.

M. Ru Pere said…
hey, your reading went well I thought - there were some others that were zzzzz-land for sure - the whole thing was like a circus with way too many rings . . . but fun!
bookfraud said…
glad that you popped the awp cherry, and i bet the reading was just swell. too bad it's in your hometown -- you go out of town, and partytime. when i went a few years ago, i've rarely seen so much liquor consumed in one place. not to mention the woman who squirted breast milk across the room.
M. Ru Pere said…
yes, bookfraud - it were crazy X 10, imagine the lobby of a super Hilton at 6 pm Fri looking like the concourse of a Dead show with, no exaggeration, 100 or so "guests" sitting in circles On the floor (!) talking and drinking - all to the awazement of the Hilton staff and the other business travelers . . . there was a great James Dickey panel i attended, but then, stupid me, the next 3 people I gushed to about it, they each had a first-person horror story of Dickey that so erased any sentimentality . . . plus Doty read a linda Hull poem about her (she died in 92 or so) and a tranny drunk as skunks out in the mid of the night looking for Charlie Parker's grave . . . fucking unbelievable
Hi, Collin! It was nice to meet you, too...
Justin Evans said…

This is about AWP Report #2, but I am too lazy to scroll down that far this morning.

I agree with you about the whole self-promotion thing going on these days. It seems to be getting worse every year. On the other hand, I am certain to some I must have been a royal pain in the butt as a younger poet.
brent goodman said…

Thanks for the updates and letting us AWP absentees live vicariously through your adventures! Hope to see you next year in NYC.


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