Seriously, the most fun table I stopped at by far was the Paper Darts table. This is a beautiful print publication. The editors are fun, outgoing, not-pretentious, and they had a puppy! Who can resist a puppy?
9. Not with a Bang, but a Whisper
I only went to three panels, but I learned so much from the poets who shared their thoughts on whispering and poetry and politics. Like many good discussions on poetry, the guidance and knowledge shared can also be excellent advice for living a full life. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom I gleaned:
“The lived life is a political life.” – Dorianne Laux
“Flinching is exactly what we need to do.” – Lia Purpura, on truly looking at and seeing what’s most difficult
“Write whatever haunts you enough to put pen paper.” –Dorianne Laux, on the poet’s authority
8. Meeting Weave contributors
I met so many wonderful Weave contributors! This is my favorite part of editing: shaking hands (or better yet, hugging!) the brave and generous people who share their work with us. There was a bunch that stopped by the table when I wasn’t there. To those lovely contributors I say, See you in Boston!
7. Reading for Chatham
Reading at AWP was thrilling. I don’t normally get nervous for a reading; I’m pretty confident in my reading abilities (I always practice). But this one had me shaken because while it was hosted by my alma mater, anyone could wander in. But once I got over myself and saw all the familiar, supportive faces of my former professors and classmates, I chilled. And the reading was so much fun. I made new friends and finally met Carolyn Whelan and was so happy to read with her and the especially lovely Sarah Shotland. Great night.
6. Post-Reading Beer and Milkshake Party
Sometimes things just work out perfectly. My friends Sarah, Jess, Lo, and I all went out for dinner at a diner down the street from the hotel. As we were sitting, we saw Heather McNaugher, our professor and poet extraordinaire, who joined us for dinner and fantastic conversation. There are so many people to see at AWP and I am so grateful I got to enjoy a meal with these exceptional people. I felt like myself again.
5. Gender Interrupted: Poetry of the Alternatively Gendered
There were 10,000 people at AWP this year. With numbers that high, it’s easy to feel the edges of yourself blurring into anonymity. This reading, featuring Stacey Waite, Joy Ladin, Ely Shipley, and Samuel Ace, was one of the best readings I’ve ever attended. The work of these poets is so varied, yet tied together with a common, universal theme: seeking a place, be in geographical or corporeal, where one feels at home. The room changed, the audience breathed, the poets spoke. It was beautiful.
I love dancing, but I often forget it. But once a good song comes on (or even a really terrible one), I feel the rhythm. Gloria Estefan, you said it right: the rhythm is gonna get ya! It did. And I danced and saw old friends and made new ones and had a blast.
3. LGBT Caucus
2. Meeting Dorianne Laux
1. Friends. Friends. Friends.
The best part about AWP is always the people. I did my best to not allow myself to blend, but to reach out and strengthen friendships and make new ones. I’m so grateful that my friends made time for me. I’m a lucky person.