Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry book GIVEAWAY to celebrate National Poetry Month!

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Big Poetry Book Giveaway! This event is in honor of National Poetry Month and was started by poet Kelli Russell Agodon. If you want to participate and have questions about the process, check out Kelli's FAQs.

If you're new to Dear Outer Space, here's a little background on me and my blog.

I'm Laura. I'm a poet, writer, editor, and educator. I live in San Francisco where I teach poetry in the public schools for Poetry Inside Out and California Poets in the Schools. I'm also the founding editor of Weave Magazine, a biannual literary publication.

My chapbook, Braiding the Storm, is coming out in September 2012 by Finishing Line Press. If you'd like to be included on my mailing list, sign up here.

I write about a lot of things on Dear Outer Space. I like to interview other writers, review books, tell you about my day or upcoming readings, discuss hot literary topics. I like making lists. I love spreadsheets!

I love a good sandwich, preferably one with cheese and condiments. I'm an extroverted homebody. I'm originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I miss my hometown.

My writing process changes a lot. My natural process involves me drafting something by hand and then forgetting about it for months, discovering it, typing it on my computer, putting it in a folder, forgetting I wrote it, rediscovering it months later, revising, eventually sending it out for publication. Sometimes I have spurts where I write five poems in a day. When I'm more disciplined, I write about one poem a week. In order to help improve by writing habits, I'm going to try to write a poem a day for NaPoWriMo.

I like a tidy workspace. I'm hopelessly disorganized. I lose things often. I'm learning to not care about losing things often.

Finally, I love giving things away!


One - Chapbook!
The first book in the giveaway is my forthcoming debut chapbook, Braiding the Storm (Finishing Line Press, 2012). I'd call this a coming-of-age collection of poems. A revolution of sorts. Here are links to a couple poems that are in the collection, to give you a taste. This chapbook will be published in September, so the winner will receive a copy in the fall. 

Two - Chapbook !
The second poetry chapbook I'm giving away is called Catch & Release (Seven Kitchens Press, 2012) written by my dearest and most awesome poet friend, D. Gilson. Catch & Release is the winner of the 2012 Robin Becker Prize. This fierce collection of poems grapples with the home, sexuality, religion, family, culture, and class. I can't recommend it highly enough. This book comes out this month, so I should be able to mail it right away.

Weave is awesome!
Three - Lit Journal!
We only need to give out two books, but I'm offering a third chance to win! The third giveaway is a copy of issue 07 of Weave Magazine! This issue features poems from Noelle Kocot, Mary Stone Dockery, Iris Jamahl Dunkle, and Lawrence Wray, and includes fiction and nonfiction pieces as well. Copies are currently available.

Four - Lit Journal!

I realized I have an extra copy of the first issue of Adanna: A Journal for Women, about Women. Great first issue of a lovely journal featuring poems (and other genres) by Yours Truly, Molly Spencer, Sarah Sloat, and Carol Berg, among many others! This will be sent to the winner once chosen.


There will be four winners total, two getting one of the chapbooks, the third getting Weave Issue 07, and the fourth getting Adanna Issue 01. Each entrant will receive a number based on the order of their comment. During the week of May 1st, 2012 I will randomly choose four winners from the entrants in the comments section using a random number generator.

This drawing is open from now through ALL OF APRIL - which is National Poetry Month!

TO ENTER, please leave your name and email address in the comment section by midnight (Pacific time), APRIL 30th, 2012 in the comment section of this post.  It's that simple!

So excited to share these books with new readers! What are you waiting for? Go comment!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chapbook Rookie: Interview with author Karen Lillis on Planning Your Own Book Tour

Most small presses don’t have big marketing budgets to throw at every title. At most, an editor's already stretched schedules might allow her to send some postcards or make online announcements. This means a small press writer might find herself wondering how to best promote her latest book. Most editors will say that readings sell books and they are right. But how do you plan a series of readings? Where do you get the money? How do you travel and how far? Where does a rookie begin when planning a book tour? 

Karen Lillis signing Watch the Doors as They Close for her March 8th
release at Copacetic Comics, in Pittsburgh. photo by Mark Knobil.
I decided to answer these questions by reaching out to novelist and seasoned book-tour-planner Karen Lillis. Lillis is currently in the middle of her second book tour for her fourth novel, Watch the Doors as They Close (Spuyten Duyvil Novella Series, 2012). In 2000, Lillis embarked on the cross-country "United States of Amnesia" Reading Tour via Greyhound bus for her first book, i, scorpion (Words Like Kudzu Press, 2000). She's read for many a reading series in the United States and abroad, including Kilometer Zero (Paris), Experiments & Disorders, (New York), The Five Ten Readings (Baltimore), The New Yinzer Presents (Pittsburgh), among others. Also a freelance writer, small press advocate, and Pushcart Prize Nominee, she writes about indie publishing and indie bookstores at Karen the Small Press Librarian.

Lillis is raising funds for her current book tour on IndieGogo, which for a mere $15 donation gets you a signed copy of Watch the Doors. After a book release event on March 8th , she traveled to Cleveland and Baltimore and in late April she visits New York, Philadelphia, and returns to Baltimore. I caught up with Karen between tour legs to chat about her experience with planning and carrying out a successful book tour. Check out the interview followed by the promo video for her IndieGogo campaign.  


For your first novel, i, scorpion (Words Like Kudzu Press, 2000), you traveled cross-country. Did you plan this book tour? If so, what did you learn from that first experience and how did you apply it to planning future book tours?

Yes, I booked that cross country tour. I traveled with a Greyhound 6-week pass, stayed in cities where my friends lived, and booked readings by looking at local listings and figuring out where people held literary events. Things were very different thenthis was 12 years ago. I was using online newspapers to help me find reading venues, but the social web didn't exist. I was still young as a writer and most of my friends were artists or else the kind of writers (journalists, screen writers, zine writers) who didn't do readings; I didn't know many "performing writers" yet. So I made things up as I went. I was emboldened by the DIY ethos of that time (2000). 

Some things I learned for sure: When booking, pay attention to WHO is reading where, don't just go for the generically "good" venue or bookstore, but look for a good fit. Don't read alone in a far-off cityalways read with a local who has a local audience. Don't assume anythingcheck in with your venue a few weeks and a few days before your event. Do your own publicity. If there's a blizzard, don't be afraid to reschedule the reading. Take your reading seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously. By “take your reading seriously” I mean, prepare yourself and figure out what you need to do to give a good performancepreparation for me includes picking out the right reading selection, practicing and timing it beforehand, and choosing the right clothes. By “don't take yourself too seriously” I mean, don't forget that no one except you really cares if you keep writing, keep reading, keep publishing. Do a book tour to see other places, meet other writers, see what it’s like to read to a room full of strangers, fall on your face and find out what you do after that. Do a book tour to see what you’re made of. Everything else (feedback, book sales, reviews) is icing.

Lastly, I learned that you must entertain the audience. My new book, Watch the Doors As They Close, is a very introspective book that I think lends itself best to an intense, private read. My first book tour was with a novel that had some great extroverted chaptersflamboyant characters, dialogue, diatribes. It made for obvious readings. For this book, I am combining excerpts from the book with outtakes in order to lure the audience in with something funnier, and then get to the more introspective passages once they are paying attention.

Did you set up all the readings for Watch the Doors As They Close before starting the fundraiser on IndieGogo? 

I set up several readings before the IndieGogo campaign, but it's not necessarily the end of the "tour" I'm going to try to add more readings in 2012 if money and vacation days allow. But for IndieGogo or Kickstarter, you have to have something concrete to campaign for—so, yes, I had seven readings set up before I started the fundraiser.

What back up plans did you have if you didn't meet your fundraising goals?

I am keeping a budget and trying to raise the money one way or another to pay for the book tour above and beyond my usual life expenses. So, back-up plans include taking on some articles for extra income, selling off some signed first editions, and crossing my fingers for a good tax rebate. And of course the credit card is the ultimate back up plan that I'm trying to avoid.

Since this is your fourth novel, you've obviously done a lot of readings. I'm guessing you also have a lot of connections in the indie bookstore world. Did you have previous relationships with your reading venues or did you contact them cold? 

I don't think I ended up cold-contacting anyone for this tour so far. I did a lot of that in 2011, though, when I was setting up reading dates for a poet whose book I published. I really enjoyed doing that because working on his behalf took the ego out of it; I could just advocate for him and not have any self consciousness come into the equation. I learned a lot and made some good contacts that way with bookstores, reading series, reviewers, and some other writers. For this Watch the Doors book tour, I often started the process by contacting a writer I wanted to read with and they had a contact at a local venue. In Baltimore I got to read again at a great series where I read my last novel (the 510 Readings).

Any tips on setting up readings for newbies?

For young writers, I would advocate using your social web contacts and trying to set up readings with writers whose work you like or with whom you have some kind of personal connection. Reach out and see if they'd be interested in reading with you. Be ready and willing to do all the leg-work to set up an event, but don’t be afraid to approach other writers or to ask questions. Go to readings and pay attention—what makes readings enjoyable and what detracts? If you’re cold-contacting a venue (I suggest by email), let them know why they would want to host you. How are you going to bring them an audience? How are you going to entertain the audiences they already have? If you’re reading at a bookstore, don’t balk when they take a cut of your (chap)book sales. That’s their business—expect a 60/40 split (you get 60%).

On your fundraising page, you talk about the goal of "building an audience" for Watch the Doors. You also mention selling copies to audience members. Can you tell us about the success of these goals? How do you know if you are building an audience? Is that the same as selling your book?  

These are good questions, and not necessarily easy ones to answer. Building an audience is not the same as selling your book, no. Right now my definition of building an audience is doing my best to give readings that communicate to an audience, and being prepared to do this over and over (over space and over time). My work is also to seek out venues that might host audiences receptive to my writing in particular.

My Cleveland reading is a good example—I set up a reading there with a writer, Mike DeCapite, whose new prose chapbook blew me away. (See my review of Creamsicle Blue here.) The reading space Mike chose made me feel very comfortable. The Lit Café was a cozy neighborhood bar that caters to artists. So, I felt very free to be myself as a writer, I felt very welcomed, and I gave a very unguarded reading—it wasn’t a competition and I didn’t feel “nervous.”  The audience was incredibly receptive during my reading—they were warm and very emotionally “there,” they laughed at my most subtle jokes, their faces were enrapt—I could see their reactions as I read. But this was well set-upI was benefiting from my co-reader’s labor. Mike has been reading at this bar for 20 years, once or twice a year when he returns to his hometown from New York. So, this was an audience he had built and perhaps for the same reasons that Mike and I really admire each other’s writing, they really liked my reading. They didn’t buy many books—sometimes bars can be bad places to sell your books because you’re competing for beer money!—but I think the work of building an audience means giving a reading that’s memorable enough to stick with exactly those audience members who don’t walk away with your book. Maybe they’ll look it up later, maybe they’ll come back for the next reading I do in Cleveland. Maybe they won’t do either but they’ll remember one image in one chapter I read. It’s still my job to do the best reading I can do.

I think the process of building an audience includes keeping your ego in check and remembering that these people are your audience whether they purchase a book or not. I sold a lot of books when I read in Pittsburgh, and that’s a nice feeling. But when I think about it, there were people who were really into the reading who didn’t buy a book—the two are not the same thing. After doing all these readings and working in bookstores myself—how, when, and why a book sells or doesn’t sell is still a total mystery to me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Creative Person's Guide to Misery

3/29: Update! I got this image from a friend on Google Plus. In an attempt to find it's original source, I came up empty handed. If anyone knows, I'd love to cite it. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Old Circus Ads & Acronyms Galore

Once again, I'm going to disappoint frustrated Google searches by title posts with my favorite searches that bring people to Dear Outer Space. This one kind of makes me want to have a frame old circus ad in my writing room. I'm writing, but I'm not in my writing room. I'm on the couch in the adjacent living room surrounded by the chaos of 10 different projects. Classes, editing, taxes, oh my!

I like being busy. Prefer it, in fact. Especially when I'm not busy, like now. The job search hasn't been that successful in the short term. However, I have good news for the long term.

Before I tell you the good news, here is a helpful guide to all the acronyms in this post.

CPITS - California Poets in the Schools
PoL - Poetry Out Loud
PIO - Poetry Inside Out

the California State Capitol Building, with palm trees
Sunday afternoon I drove north to Sacramento, California's state capitol. Did you know it was north? Because I sure didn't and was very surprised when Google maps told me otherwise. Super easy drive. I was heading to the California Poetry Out Loud Statewide Competition. The first round was on Sunday night and, I have to say, impressed doesn't fully explain my feelings. These 33 high school students were all individually so accomplished. As a whole, they could take over the world with their wide-ranging interests spanning from math to writing to athletics to business to politics to drama and back again.

On Monday morning they were on fire. The second round took place in the state Senate Chambers and most students were visited by their state reps. These kids really brought it on Monday. Sadly, only six were finalists and all were worthy of winning. Gentlemen swept the first and second runners up, as well as the State Champion. I can't wait to see how he does in Washington D.C. I wish I could attend.

While there, I saw friends from around the state, CPITS teachers who coached their county's champion. I also heard a lovely speech by Dana Gioia and almost got to meet Juan Felipe Herrera, California's recently-named Poet Laureate, who was one of the judges.

CA State Senate - talk about an intimidating room!
As things were coming to a close, I was speaking with the CPITS Administrative Coordinator, Tina, saying I'd love to be involved with PoL (which CPITS manages in some counties including San Francisco). She told me she already put me down to be the Poetry Out Loud Coordinator for San Francisco City & County!


This program is funded completely through grants from the NEA and corporate sponsors. I can provide five sessions to a local school completely free of cost to them. Since only one school participated from San Francisco this year, I hope we see at least a 500% increase next year! I've already made a spreadsheet (man, I love those things) of all the area high schools including public, charter, private, religious and independent. There are a TON of schools here. I'm really hoping to form some connections with schools and get kids involved with and passionate about poetry.

So it turns out there is hope for this freelancing thing still. If only the school year wasn't ending already. My work with PIO will finish at the end of May so I'm considering getting a no-brainer summer job, either admin work or retail working at Anthropologie. Might as well get an awesome discount, right?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Literary Roundup! Jake's Rocks Style

This post won't have much to do with Jakes Rocks, except to mention that someone found my blog by searching for "Allegheny National Forest Jakes Rocks," which is pretty cool I think. If you've never been to Jake's Rocks, it's better seen than than described, but I'll give it a go. Basically, it's a trail with really big rocks. Big, huge rocks that you can climb in, up, on, between, alongside, and under along with the beautiful trees and addictive mossy scent of Pennsylvania's forests. I went there as a kid with my family. That was also the first time I saw a wild bear. The second time is a funnier story that I'll save for another time.

Before I get to the roundup, I have something confess. I'm lonely. I've been lonely for a good few months now. I've actually progressed beyond lonely and wandered into forlorn, embracing my solitude in a not-so healthy way and become hermetic, reclusive, and withdrawn (thanks

I've been in San Francisco for a little over eight months and I only feel at home in the apartment. When Sal leaves for work, I get really sad and anxious because he's my best - and only - friend here, at least the only friend I see on a regular basis. He's so supportive. I've told him it will just take time.

I try to make plans with new friends, but most of the time I flake out. Sometimes because this city is just too much. Sometimes because I want to be around people who already know me well. Who I can be a total mess with. Who I don't have to leave the apartment to see. So, if you are a new friend of mine from the San Francisco Bay Area, maybe you'd like to come over and watch a movie with me? My couch is comfy and we have a big television.

Now that I got that out of the way, on to some way cool word-related stuff!

Sweet Lit accepted a poem of mine yesterday, which is awesome. What's also awesome is their chapbook series. Scroll to the bottom and read the descriptions. Love it. Also, last April's issue has a really moving Letter from the Editor.

Kelli Russell Agodon is spearheading the Big Poetry Giveaway 2012. I participated last year and I will this year too. It's really fun and a great way to give someone a book they might never have bought otherwise.

Three book reviews to check out: Full of Crow reviews Karen Lillis' Watch the Doors As They Close, a novella from Spuyten Duyvil; Fiddler Crab reviews Iris Dunkle's Inheritance (Finishing Line Press 2011); The Scrapper Poet, Karen J. Weyant, reviews Amanda Reynolds’ Heinz 56 (Main Street Rag, 2012).

There are SO MANY poems I want to share! I'm just going to link each poet's name, so click click click. You won't be sorry. Onward, linkitivity!
The 2011 Best of the Net is up. Check out the whole thing. Worth it.

I want to go to there. Sadly, I cannot. You should though, if you can.

Some interesting ripples caused by the VIDA Count. Good did a byline count for more mainstream publications that are popular with the "millenials," a generation of which I am happily not a part. Michelle Dean shares her two cents over at The Rumpus. That article lead me to this essay by Rebecca Solnit. Both are must-reads.

I went through my bookshelves this week and discovered that I own much fewer books by male poets. I decided to read two books at once, one by a lady-poet and one by a gentle-poet. I'll let you know how it goes.

Finally, I share a great video from this post over at The Storialist, aka Hannah Stephenson. Watch her write a poem in fast-forward. It's kind of revolutionary.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Finishing Line Press News

Sad news. The Senior Editor of Finishing Line Press, Leah Maines, has suffered a stroke. I just saw this update on the FLP Facebook page:

"Finishing Line Press is sad to announce that Leah Maines has now passed the position of sr. editor to Christen Kincaid due to Leah suffering a stroke. If you would like to send Leah a card, etc... please send to Attn: Leah Maines, Finishing Line Press, 452 General John Payne Blvd., Georgetown, KY 40324. Christen Kincaid is now the new sr. editor of FLP and she is an excellent editor."

I don't have any other information about Leah's condition, but I thought it was good to repost this information to be sure people knew about it. I know a lot of poets who have chapbooks with FLP, so please spread the word. It would be nice if Leah got a bunch of cards. She's clearly given so much to the literary community.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chapbook Rookie: Cover Art Teaser!

After AWP last week, I stayed in Chicago to spend time with my two best friends from high school, Heather and Casandra. Heather has lived in Chicago for the past five years and was preparing to move to Pittsburgh. Casandra came in for the weekend from Portland. She had been in the Peace Corp in South Africa, so neither of us had seen her in two and a half years. It was like we just saw one another yesterday. I love those kinds of friends. I'm lucky to have so many friends like that, ones I can call after months apart and we pick up right where we left off.

What I didn't realize about my decision to stay a couple extra days in Chicago was that it put me in a major crunch to get my chapbook documents to Finishing Line. I had a bunch of things to mail them by March 9th, including the cover art. Eek! 

So I got on the phone with Rose Desiano, my cover artist extraordinaire, leaving her a ridiculously long message about the deadlines. I worked on my end to finish revisions to the manuscript while Rose started revising the cover designs she made a few weeks earlier.  

When we first began, Rose asked me to search free font websites to make a list of fonts that I liked. The idea here was that fonts are a good way to bridge between the written word and visual arts. I loved this idea and happily sought out fonts I thought I'd love to have on my cover. I also told her about some general ideas I had as far as art was concerned. Earthy, movement, braiding, a little dark, messy even. When the first of the covers came back, I was surprised to find that the fonts I liked originally were not working for me anymore, but I loved where Rose began with the design. So I also spent some time in Chicago browsing through fonts again. 

Still in Chicago with my besties. Heather, who was preparing to move, also just had her second child, Sam. Hubby and first child were already in Pittsburgh, so we were there to help as much as hang. I hated being on my computer so much because I just wanted to hold Sam, but I really didn't want anything on my end to be the cause of delay. I revised my manuscript, Casandra helped me take an author photograph, and Rose toiled away over the cover.

we brought a baby to a bar. 
For dinner on Monday the three of us took Sam to a most delicious brew pub where they serve bacon fat popcorn that tastes especially delicious with their wheat beer. While there, Rose was emailing me cover designs and I was reply back on my phone with brief commentary about adjusting this or that. In one email she remarked at her surprise at the level of efficiency via email. About five or six emails and a few designs back and forth and voila! I had a cover. All while enjoying a good Belgian-style beer. And Sam did so well in the restaurant, allowing us ladies to enjoy our night out.

Tuesday in Chicago I'm preparing to leave for the airport when I get an email from Finishing Line with my production schedule. Squee! Pre-orders start May 29th and run until July 13th. My chapbook is set to arrive the week of September 8th, give or take a week or two for unexpected delays. Now I really wanted to get everything to them in time so as not to push this schedule back. 

Finishing Line typically does the design work for their authors, but since I'm a major control freak take-charge kind of lady, I opted to have Rose do the front cover artwork and the design for both the front and back. She had some final questions about what file types FLP needed, so Rose emailed the editor. On Wednesday morning, I wake up ready to print many documents, save many documents to a flash drive, and priority mail all the documents off to Kentucky when Rose forwarded an email she received from FLP. They said if we needed more time it was no problem at all. In fact, we could have all the way until June before they needed the full cover design, most likely since Rose was doing all of it. And if I needed extra time to finish my documents, that was no problem either. They said it would not affect my publication schedule at all.


The moral of this story, my fellow poets, is just ask. The worst that anyone can say is no. Plus, this bought Rose some extra time to really polish the design and me some extra time to make sure the manuscript is just so. This kind of flexibility with cover art and design is part of what makes working with a small press so fulfilling. Also, collaborating with a friend is even more awesome. I'm so glad Rose is making the cover! I admire her work and really love what she's created.

Speaking of the cover, it's done save for some polishing. I can't reveal the whole thing just yet, but I can share a zoomed-in square. Enjoy this little nugget. I'm so excited to reveal the full cover! So soon. Is it September yet? 

Next time on Chapbook Rookie: More Marketing! Marketing Galore! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Questions, After the 2011 VIDA Count

Does the gender of the readership of a publication affect the gender of its bylines?

Do women primarily read work by women? Do men only read work by men?

What does it mean to write about "women's issues" or "men's issues"?

What about writers who don't identify as male or female? Where is their pie slice?

What if female writers were to gang up and publicly pledge to submit to a publication? Submission bombing, if you will.

What if a submissions system (i.e.: Submittable) collected submitters' demographic data that could later be made available to the editors, perhaps anonymously, after submissions close?

That's what's on my mind. What questions do you have? 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Top 10 Moments of AWP 2012

10. Book Fair: Paper Darts Table!

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.

4. Dancing with friends at the Dance

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

Much like the Gender Interrupted reading, the LGBT Caucus felt like a slice of home. I often have trouble, for a variety of reasons, publicly embracing my queerness. The largest reason is because of the straight privilege I get from being in a relationship with a man. I pass as straight. But I soon realized that I was in the right room when I witnessed the exchange of thoughtful suggestions, honest concerns, and light-hearted laughter at this caucus. A community was born in that room. I’m so glad I’m a part of it.

2. Meeting Dorianne Laux

Nuff said.

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.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012