Going to AWP is like suddenly having cable television. There is so much, too much, how can it be too much? It's addictive. How can you miss this panel? It's exhausting. Look there's a whole other wing of opportunity in the Southeast Hall. Combing through the book fair for the enterprises you know and the surprises of magazines and presses and programs you didn't. Recognizing someone's name because they're a WOMPO! Buying a book because it's called Charlotte Bronte, You've Ruined My Life. Visiting the book signings of people you know. People reminding you of how you know them in the restroom line. Finding the best swag--a tiny button of Emily Dickinson's face.
AWP was in Chicago this year which is probably why I went. Its events were divided between two hotels on S. Michigan Avenue, and I was nestled in between. From my twelfth floor room, I could look out on the suprising pale blue of Lake Michigan and the soothing symmetry of the lakefront park. To my right were the museums and the crouching frog of the planetarium with its one huge eye. To the left was Navy Pier where the ferris wheel lit up every night.
The first panel I went to was on rhyme--Apollonian, Dionysian--and
someone imitated a sitar. The last event I went to was an accident
because I could not find the ballroom of Gerald Stern. But the poets who read in celebration of their online magazine's anniversary were terrific. The reading ended with a guitar and a song.
Best time--lunch with two friends who live far away, talking about the work.