At the AWP 2010 Conference: view of downtown Denver and the Rockies
Wrap-up, reflections, notes, epilogue, snark, comments, cuttings, insights, diary, dispatch, report, briefs, digest, ditties, snips, quips, chicks with inky whips, bullets, index, missives, postcards, texts, tweets, deep thoughts and bleeps - there appears to be a fathomless amount of AWP rehash in the vaporsphere, and since DL asked me for highlights, I'm chucking my pennies in with the rest.
*Right off the plane, check in, and hoof it to the convention center, where I'm introduced to Maria Melendez, poet and editor/publisher of Pilgrimage magazine. I immediately sign up for a subscription because the current issue looks great and Maria is too buoyant to deny. So great to kick off my first experience at my first AWP with someone who's not talking about budget cuts but about how much she digs the mag's photo cover because it's "a return to creatures." Yeah.
*Meet poet Suzanne Frischkorn in person after a couple of years of playing online friendsies. She is the one who clues me in that the vertigo, nausea, and overall stoned-ness I've been feeling is not exhaustion, jet lag or bad airport food - it's altitude sickness. On her advice, I'm chugging criminally priced Gatorade and Smart Water. It works. Thanks, Suzannita.
* Michael Chabon is the keynote speaker for Thursday night. He reads an essay where he plays both the parts of curious reader/student and semi-sagacious author. He asks himself something along the lines of Where do you get your ideas? He responds with Ideas are perhaps the least interesting part of the job...like the pound of insects we each consume unknowingly per year.
MC: Can one really teach writing? MC: No, one can't...Life is not a story, or not a very good story. It has a beginning and end and those are the same for everyone. You need to edit your life, you need to shape it. But most of all, you need to lie.
MC: How do we write? MC: One clattering letter at a time.
A pachanga gathers at the One Poem Festival.
* One Poem Festival: About 30 Latino poets reading one poem each at the Dikeou Collection. Oscar Bermeo leads off with "When the City Ends," which might not be the poem's title but is certainly an imagining that squeezes in cityscapes, double dutch girls, and the Soul Sonic Force. Xanath Caraza sings the beginning of her poem in a bronzed alto; Tim Z. Hernandez hypnotizes us with his meditation of dusk in the campos and how "Venus shows her bashful face in the blue of night." Kristin Naca tells of her father's failed quest to catch cardinals and Dan Vera recalls his elementary school's "cafetorium," where he and other 7 year old boys watched films about hygiene and the unexpected fate of Old Yeller. Listen, you know how sometimes you go to readings and you're nodding and hmm-hmmming but really you're thinking about dinner or how you should stop for gas on the way home? There was none of that wandering for me at this reading. Everyone had something good to offer here, not just in verse but also in news. Poet Silvia Curbelo announced the winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize, which supports the publication of a first full length collection by a Latino poet. Past winners include Gabriel Gomez, Sheryl Luna, and Paul Martinez Pompa. This year's winner - me. And I am thrilled and grateful. Thank you to all.
*Banana wheat pancakes, homefries, cafe au lait and a carafe of iced lemon water at The Delectable Egg(see right). I ate at this place twice and would have hit it a third time if I had any sense. But I was too busy running between the hotel, its ripoff gift shop ($8 for a bottle of Visine), the book fair, and sundry events, the latter which included a reading by contributors to The Sun that I had intended to listen to for about 15 minutes before tearing off to one of the 100 things I wanted to attend but didn't. It was too good to leave. Hat off to Steve Almond, Ellen Bass, Akhim Yuseff Cabey, Frances Lefkowitz, Alison Luterman, and Sy Safransky. I actually forgot about eating while hearing your poems and stories. Sorcery!
*Lots more to note, but too beat to do so. Writing about AWP is almost as exhausting as entering its glorious and buzzing maw. I will add that, wretched altitude aside, springtime in Denver is a pretty thing, and if anyone knows the name of this tree I would be glad to learn it.