Reflection on AWP 2013
Never having been to Boston, I hoped there would not be a repeat of the nor’easter that hit there in February. Thankfully, I chose Jet Blue over Airtran and was able to get into Boston before weather hit. Being a native of western New York, I quickly forget how non-WNYers do not have the expertise to cope with what I’ve come to call “cosmic snot,” also known as mixed precipitation tending toward the slushy side. Fortunately, Boston provides sufficient covered walkways to keep pedestrian travel outdoors to a minimum, at least where the hotels and convention center are situated.
Now for the highlights. In addition to the expected what’s-trending-in-publishing panels, I attended panels on applying for Fullbright fellowships and NEA grants, panels on current Polish poetry in translation, the necessity for Christian literary publishers, and a reading by contributors to an anthology encouraging young Latina women to go to college (one of the contributors is my fellow Bennington alum and friend, Celeste Guzman Mendoza). All were very informative, thought provoking, and even inspiring.
I was delighted to meet and converse with poet James Ragan at the Seamus Heaney-Derek Wolcott reading/conversation. As drawn to central Europe as I am, Ragan’s experiences teaching in Poland and the Czech Republic were fascinating to hear, especially since I have high interest in returning to Poland.
The conference and bookfair is so much better now that the annual event is held in a convention center. There was much more time to browse and chat at the bookfair between panels rather than racing from one conference hotel to another.
Books I had to purchase: Glory Bound (WordFarm, 2012) by Jessie Van Eerden. I attended a reading sponsored by Ruminate journal and WordFram Press where Van Eerden read. Her prose is poetic; the fact that the book is published by a Christian imprint made the purchase all the more appealing. Better Food for a Better World (Slant Books, 2013) by Erin McGraw. Slant is a new press, a counterpart to Image journal. Anyone who knows me knows that I could not resist a novel with ice cream on the cover! I purchased only one book of poetry, The World Shouldering I by James Ragan. How can anyone converse with a fine poet and not get a signed book?
There were plenty of other titles of interest, many of them available for my (yes, I have one) Kindle Fire. I still enjoy the experience of reading a paper-made book. I have also come to appreciate the freedom (mostly from pain) of not carrying hundreds of pages of paper while traveling.
I think I’ll pass on Seattle next year, though. I’ve got other plans. More about that another time.