De rigueur, I guess, given the number of these things I’ve seen posted this past week. Anywho, [PANK] went, of course. It saw, things happened, there were readings and bars and dancing, a pinch of mayhem, a dash of naughty, and we returned triumphant if a little bruised and roughed up around the edges. As with past AWPs, some was good, some great, some hilarious, some a little unbalanced, and some of it we’re not tellin’ to no one, especially not you. Much of it, though, remains blurry and a little hard to make sense of (as we’ve come to expect of any truly worthwhile AWP). But as the swelling subsides and our shoes cease to hurt, a few lines of sense begin to reconfirm themselves in our addled minds. Here’s my shortlist of the obvious:
CITY OF WORDS. Oh, AWP Bookfair, whereat the wurst gets made. And it’s pretty much all I did during daytime AWP. The following became an almost painful muscle memory, all tongue and lung: “[PANK] is PANK Magazine, pankmagazine.com, and the PANK Little Book Series. We’re about five years old. We publish primarily poetry and short-form prose and like work with a little bit of dirt under its nails, but if you shake the bush hard enough, all kinds of snakes crawl out.” At the end of Saturday, saying this began to make me angry. I hope I didn’t get angry at you. On the plane home, the guy sitting next to me asked me about [PANK] and I got a nose bleed, all joking aside. This and the MOUNTAIN of books I brought home. So, so, so overwhelming. In a good way. But still.
GET ON A MIC. If the bookfair is where the sausage gets made, it’s the outside readings where the sausage gets cooked. All I’m going to add is three words, Divination in DC. I’ll retro-add the video of that very kick-ass PANK/Annalemma/Mudluscious reading tomorrow (aka Monday, 2/14) because I need a faster connection than I have at home to upload it and because it will then be like a Valentine’s day present to you whom I do so love.
ALIASES, NAMES, FACES. Hang out at the AWP bookfair long enough, attend enough outside readings and magical things happen. For instance, news flash, xTx exists! Or I think she does. Maybe that woman was a paid impostor (I think I read that on Facebook). Roxane knows for sure, but she ain’t telling me shit. Simulacra or no, xTx is smart and funny and nice and super pretty and she can dance, too. Who knew these things? This may be the main thing the conference facilitates for me, particularly as an editor who is not the public face of the magazine. So, so happy to have made your acquaintance, you writer you, too many to name. Someday, AWP will facilitate my meeting Frank Hinton or catching a unicorn by its tail. Either one. Which brings me to…
SMILING AT MOLLY. Really just another variation on the theme of networking, which is a common thread here, in case you haven’t noticed. But unlike the bookfair, the outside readings, or connecting the dots, SMILING AT MOLLY (Molly Gaudry, that is) is a simpler pleasure unto itself, stripped of any greater meaning than simply seeing writers you adore in close proximity to one another, in situations you don’t normally get in your workaday life, and watching the madness ensue. It’s different for everybody, different on different days, and really requires nothing of you except paying close enough attention. While it seemed that every day was SMILING AT MOLLY day for me (thanks, Molly), I also had a DAN NESTER AND HIS WHOOPEE CUSHION day as well as a MICHAEL MARTONE KEEPS RECOMMENDING PEOPLE TO MY TABLE? day. And an acquaintance of mine had an I JUST KNOCKED JOYCE CAROL OATS TO THE FLOOR day (seriously!).
PARTY PEOPLES. My friends, this is where the sausage gets eaten. Don’t like the sound of that? Me neither, but I started the unfortunate metaphor up above and I ain’t turning back now.Â Lit Party, or as I’ve come to refer to it, White People Dancing to Footloose, was a good, nay, great example. There were others, too true, but Lit Party was where I rocked my overbite the hardest, thumbs up on the dance floor, grinding it out just off the beat. Yup, that was me. Actually, that was most of everybody else, too, maybe even you. I was assaulted while in queue for the bathroom (you know who you are, wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I was leapt upon, beer was spilled, beer was replaced (thanks for that). Good times for a good cause. Second in the running, the conference hotel bar where the after party was always interesting and reliably sleazy. Which brings me to…
CONDOMS. This probably doesn’t deserve its own bullet, except that I simply had to share the following with you: (1) At [PANK]‘s bookfair table on Friday of the conference, I asked one browser how their AWP was going, to which they replied, straight as an arrow, “There’s two great reasons to come to AWP, the bookfair and sex. I’ve got the flu so I’m only getting half my money’s worth.” (2)Â On Sunday morning there was a very beleaguered woman working the conference hotel’s little convenience store. I was buying aspirin, located in close proximity to a very depleted supply of condoms. Before I could stop myself I asked, “Do condom sales go through the roof during these conferences?” To which she replied, straight as an arrow, “They did at this one.”
And there you have it, PANKsters, my paltry little AWP wrap up. Glad to have met you if I met you. Hope to see more of you in Chicago next year.