I'm planning on going to the AWP Conference this year. I'm only going Thursday through Saturday (March 1st through 3rd), so already I'll be missing some fabulous stuff. But the truth is that there's so much going on at the conference that it can be overwhelming. In terms of sheer numbers, the amount of attendee bodies alone seems preposterous. Registration was closed this year (for the first time) at 10,000.
I just had a conversation with someone who has never gone before. We were talking about networking which I know I should always do, but somehow have not the faintest idea of how to accomplish. Ask me to write a sonnet, and I won't want to, but I know how. Tell me to find out what's wrong with a poem and I can sift through and put a finger on it (or several/them). Maybe if I wrote a poem about networking, I would discover how to do it.
What I like to do is go to panels about poetry to find out new stuff. One year, the name Harryette Mullen was mentioned everywhere and that's how I came to her work. Another time, people got excited and vociferous (audience members) in a panel discussing form versus free verse. I also like to wander around the book fair and look at presses and anthologies and books of poetry and books of thinking about poetry. Readings are good, too--those who have arrived, the old warhorses of valor, in the evenings, and the energetic new at all the off-sites.
If you find yourself wandering the book fair on Friday, March 2nd, between 3 and 4, you will find me at the BkMk table (C1-C2) doing a book signing of Lake Erie Blue. And if you stop and say hello, I'll imagine I'm networking successfully!