what’s missing at AWP

johnny gets the word. and the word is "syphilis."

DENVER—at the AWP conference, there are no shortage of publishers pushing gimmicks, presses giving you come-hither looks, and sartorially obsessed young hipsters donning horn-rimmed glasses and/or neckwear.  in fact, for those of you who are here, i highly recommend playing the AWP bingo game. and when you meet me, you can X out the “grad student at table who will reject your work” box.  but i promise i’m still an entirely pleasant fellow to talk to.

after the first day today, however, i can say that there was a scarcity of well executed break-out sessions.  most of the panelists (and the panel audience members with “questions”) that i saw seemed chiefly interesting in telling you all about their particular literary endeavor, including a fair amount of organizational history behind it.  which is all well and good if you’re looking to do pretty much exactly the same thing they did, but maybe in another city.  i was hoping for a little less personal history, and a little more applicable knowledge.  but maybe that’s tomorrow’s sessions.

the rumors i’ve heard about this conference appear to be true, however.  it’s really less about the sessions, more about schmoozing at the book fair, and, more likely, at the bars in the evening.  it doesn’t take a particularly creative fiction writer to imagine what might happen when you start cramming boatloads of writers together in well-stocked bars.  well, yes, shitty karaoke, too—but i was thinking a little more lasciviously. by which i mean i was really stretching for an excuse to share this link with you under the guise of “helpful advice for drunk AWP attendees thinking about screwing that ‘foxy poet girl’ or ‘cute fiction boy.'”  it is for your benefit i give you a cautionary tale about syphilis, told in comics.  from your very own u.s. government.  for serious.


  • Asa Maria says:

    I attended a few of the “more of an author reading a prepared essay than a panel” panels at the conference, but overall I just say that I got a lot out of the sessions. I got to meet some of my idols (P. Lopate, R. Skloot, M.G. Lord), discover new authors, and discover I had expertise that an editor from W.D. Books wants people to write and blog about (she gave me her card).

    The Willow Springs table was an awesome place at which to meet writers and wanna-be writers. I feel like I got as much out of staying stationary behind there as I did from walking around the fair.

  • Shanti says:

    What you said, Jason, about sums it up in my opinion.

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