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.