Thursday, March 8, 2012

AWP 2012 Recap

I love getting out to events, and the 2012 AWP Conference was no different. It's like the 4th or 5th time I've been up to the windy city, and every trip to Chicago has been fun. This trip was special for a couple reasons.

At a Starbucks with Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Christina Katz.

First, it was my first trip to Chicago with Tammy. We stayed at the Sheraton next to the Chicago River and overlooking the Navy Pier. The grandparents watched the kids, and we got a few days together in the big city--and believe me, we took advantage of the opportunity (yes, we watched R-rated movies and slept in).

Second, this was my first AWP experience.

The Bookfair
Now, I've been to comic conventions and BookExpo America, so I know what a big convention/conference can look like. But I wasn't ready for AWP. Maybe it's the lack of walls between booths (heck, maybe it's the lack of booths), but the bookfair part of the conference felt very chaotic and claustrophobic to me.

I picked up a few free literary journals. I had some brief conversations with poets and publishers. But if I ever go again, I'm going to need a better game plan--for the bookfair part of the equation anyway.

The Panel
The main reason I finally got out to AWP was that Christina Katz invited me to speak on a panel with her, Jane Friedman, and Seth Harwood. While I was definitely interested in AWP, this was the kind of shove I needed to tear myself away from the kids.

Our panel covered the Tech-Empowered Writer, and I think it was filled with great advice. If you want a little taste, check out these posts we assembled for the panel:
We mainly touched on how different writers are using technology to their advantage and sharing tips on how the audience can do the same--starting immediately.

Of course, there were a lot of questions--so much so that they followed us out into the hallways, which is a good thing. I love helping as much as I'm able.

After the Panel
Jane, Christina, Porter Anderson (who live-Tweeted the panel), and I found a Starbucks afterward and spent an hour or so just shooting the whatever-you-care-to-shoot. I cherish these moments to just hang out and talk shop, and they never last quite long enough.

Somewhere early in that hour, Tammy found her way over to us, and I was happy to introduce her to everyone. I'm really looking forward to getting up to that Poetry Hickory event in June with Tammy and meeting all the North Carolina poets.

Tammy and I outside a pub in Chicago.
Photo credit: Mark Griffin.

After AWP
I didn't spend my entire time in Chicago at AWP. That would've been a waste of time and money (and this was definitely not a cheap trip). Tammy and I were able to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and a few local food spots, including Pizzeria Uno (great deep dish pizza) and Lou Mitchell's (busy, little diner with great fried taters).

Oh yeah, there was this bar--the name escapes me, of course--close to our hotel that served up the best jambalaya I've ever had. If I lived in Chicago, I'd need wider pants and a second job--because the food up that way rocks!

The weather was cold, though definitely milder than normal. For that, I was thankful. After living the first three decades of my life in Ohio, I know how bitter the winters can be north of Chattanooga.

Tammy at Lou Mitchell's, a cute diner that gives Milk Duds to each customer.

So... Will I Make My Way to AWP Boston in 2013?
That's a good question, and I'm not sure at the moment. Since panelists have to pay for everything (including registering), it's really the least cost-effective speaking event in the universe. So it's quite an expense out of my pocket, even if it was great to see some of my Facebook peeps in real life.

There's a part of me that thinks one AWP is enough; and then, there's another part that is brainstorming possible winning panel ideas. I guess, we'll see.


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Thomas L. Vaultonburg said...

Seems like everyone but me was at AWP this year, and i live right there. Good advice you're handing out. ZombieBlog

Collin Kelley said...

I wasn't at AWP this year. Or the year before that or the year before that. My last AWP was Atlanta, but I do plan to attend Boston 2013.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Yeah, I've always wanted to visit Boston, Collin. So Tammy and I are definitely interested in going--just to have an excuse to visit the city. Need to come up with a good panel or two.

Apparently, Thomas, this was just the 2nd AWP ever that's sold out. There were literally people arriving (who hadn't heard ahead of time) that were being turned away and who were in tears. Crazy scene.

Jessie Carty said...

I went to Chicago 2009 and I'm hoping for Boston 2013 if my school may pay a part. I also have a panel idea so we shall see. I wish I had left the hotel more at my last awp so that's a focus for next time :)

See you in Hickory!