Top Ten Things I Love and Hate About the AWP Conference
9. Marking my program with all the panels I end up not being able to attend because I (a.) oversleep; (b.) can't decide which I want to run to first, so go downstairs and get a strong tea instead; (c.) decide, what the heck, and talk to x---- in the hallway instead.
8. All the new food you get turned onto ("She Crab Soup").
7. The open mike. This year it was great; variety of voices. I really enjoyed a lot of what I heard.
6. The panels. This year I went to the old fogies panel. I really liked what I heard, the poems and the thoughts. An early influence, Diane Wakoski was there reading from a new unpublished book. It's hard to think of her looking for a publisher. How I love all those Black Sparrow books in their fine vellum wrappers. She was exceptionally fine.
5. Recognizing poets waiting for the elevator. Ed H, Stanley P, Coleman B, Yusef K, Al Y....
4. Running into old friends waiting for the elevator; and the ensuing connections and projects: Rosemary Catacalos and John Crawford from West End Press (one of the favorite people in the world). Hated, that there's never enough time; but what time there is is just enough.
3. My panel. This year organized by Wendy Barker with Alicia Ostriker and Kimiko Hahn. Ralph Black wrote a new poem for it that was just a knock-out beauty, and, political. It was all very inspiring and definitely the high-light. I hate having to wait for the end of the conference to present; nervewracking.
2. All the off-site readings. The ones I wanted to attend I had to miss., like the Pussy-Po women's mike night that wednesday before the conference, and all the ones scheduled during the Con Tinta Event. There was no way I could miss that, especially honoring Puerto Rican poet and prof, Judith Ortiz Cofer. Besides, there was no way I could miss the fantastic reading with all the poets from the new anthology assembled. I wrote a blurb for the work, which was only the last sentence of the paragraph I wrote. I could have gone on for pages, too. The anthology is really solid. I had to miss the big Split Rock reading as my stomach was starting to act-up (all the great tasting but bad for my ulcer appetizers at the Con Tinta event) and I wrote my talk that I delivered the next morning instead. Also, loved the Tucson reading with Diane Delgado, one of the more excellent new poets who should have been in that anthology. I liked hearing the Tucson writers, good variety and energy.
1. THE BOOKFAIR! I LOVE bookfairs! I especially love the AWP bookfair. I love buying books at the fair. I miss not having a table to hang out at. I miss not being a publisher. I love talking to publishers, and editors, and people who just love bookfairs. I love all the new people. I love all the old people. I love the great deals I got at the fair, and the giveaways! I hate having to schlep heavy books home. I hate spending several hundred dollars in cash before realizing that I should have gotten receipts for taxes; I know small press people, in particular, can really use cash at bookfairs. I hate not having nearly enough time to spend at the bookfair. I only ended up going through a fraction of it. I love talking to every table (ugh, except for the religious books). I love all the connections I make. And, gotta say it, I love being recognized moseying through a bookfair.
Look for me at the Bay Area Anarchist BookFair in San Francisco Golden Gate Park this weekend, March 17-18. You can find me near the Free Radio Berkeley / Project TUPA table. And, at the Denver Zine Fest where I'll be writing you original, spontaneous and personalized poems in exchange for a donation to Free Radio Project TUPA.