Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Confession Tuesday - The AWP Version #AWP11 !

Me touring in DC - in front of one of many museums I fell in love with.
I confess I've been missing in action here at Book of Kells due to an incredible vacation/AWP in Washington, DC.  I thought I would live in the real and virtual world at once, but no, the real world won out and I was a bad blogger - though I took great notes with pen & pencil.

There is so much to report and people wanted me to get the gossip before I left, so we better get the confessional--

I confess if there were any moments of poets behaving badly, I missed them.

Actually, I think the conference has become so large, it's really hard to know what's going on, who's doing what (and with who) and what's the place to be.  My last AWP I recognized so many more people, this AWP, a sea of strangers who I knew loved: 1) writing 2) books  3) language  and/or 4) parties (there were a lot of graduate students at this AWP).

So while my last (2004, Vancouver) AWP was hissing with stories that would circle and recircle through the conference, there wasn't anything anyone *had* to tell me.

~

I confess the best part of AWP is meeting people I've only talked with or known from either their books or online.

Here's some people I saw walking and talking and I will confess, yes, they are alive and lovely people (not robots!) and I was glad to meet them in person--

January O'Neill, Deb Ager, Nin Andrews (though I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked as I had to run off to the Crab Creek Review table), Eduardo Corral, Bernadette Geyer, Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Reb Livingston, Sally R. Kindred, Lyle Daggett, Marie Gauthier, Angela Vogel, and many many of the poets and writers we published in Crab Creek Review.  By the way, I know there are friends and writers who I met that aren't listed, but my mind has gone to that quiet spot where it's refusing to pull up names.

People I had met at the last AWP or other places I was able to see again -- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, C. Dale Young, Oliver de la Paz, and Charles Jensen.  The Old School blogging community.  BTW, this list is also a list of people who are gorgeous, just thought I'd add that.

I did not bump into Victoria Chang, Sandy Longhorn or Mary Biddinger, and I was a bit bummed about that.

~

Even with all the people I *knew* and knew, on the last night of AWP I found myself missing my local tribe of poets.  Susan & Lana had gone home a day early.  Marty was dining with her editor.  Jeannine had stayed home. My family was tucked in at our hotel.  And there I was, big city feeling a little lonely.

I confess, what I should have done was called up January to see where she was.  What I should have done was phone Nin and say, I'm free for dinner!  What I did was what I always do in situations where I don't want to be a burden on others' time, went to the Kay Ryan reading by myself.

Actually, I was fine . . .

(I'm making it sound a bit like a sad tale of the orphan at AWP who no one loved, but sheesh, there were people everywhere, if I wanted a friend, there were 7000, all who came wearing nametags and with their hobbies already filled out to match mine-- Writing, Reading Books, Literature). . .

But it was a good reminder for me (and some good advice to you if you ever attend one of these ginormous functions and find yourself alone & wanting company), have a few phone numbers to call/text to see who's doing what.

Anyway, I think all the cool kids went to the Amy Hempel reading, but that's another confession...

~

I confess this was the first time Crab Creek Review had a booth at AWP and one surprise was all the poets and writers who came up and introduced themselves.  I hadn't realized that would happen, but it was so wonderful to meet these people in person after publishing their poems and stories.   This was truly a highlight.

~

Other highlights--

Meeting Wyn Cooper, a favorite poet of mine.

Sitting in a panel and not having them take out their academic reading and speak in a monotone voice, but to actually speak to the audience in an interesting, conversational way.

Meeting people in person and liking them, a lot.

Attending the panel on "Should we write for free?" and "How to make a writing life outside of academia."  Both of these panels were the most open and honest in the details of a creative life and what it takes to live as a writer.

The panel on writing on writing on spirituality with Dinah Linney, Brenda Miller and David Biespiel, those three were incredible in talking about how the spiritual plays into their creative lives.

Meeting my editor, Dennis Maloney in person and my first DC reading.

The Seriously Funny reading and hearing David Kirby & Barbara Hamby read (in person) for the first time.  If you haven't read them, you need to.  

~

I confess (and this is a weird confession), I told myself if I didn't die on the flight to and from DC, I wouldn't be afraid of flying anymore.  Yes, I'm one of those people.

Actually I had read a lot about flying before I left and what it's safer than (um, taking a plane ride is safer than walking, biking, driving and/or having sex) -- really.  Seeing that list was a very good reminder for me how we create our own fears in our mind and give them exclamation points.

As a mountain biker who talked my way out of an ER visit last August, but still ended up having an MRI to make sure my brain was still working, I realized, the most dangerous thing I do is on the ground and on two wheels (and usually involves bumps, bruises, scratches and large tree hazards).

For some reason I wasn't feeling worried about the flight.  In fact, I wasn't worried so much that I told myself, if I fly without worrying before then I can fly anytime because it means my worries aren't keeping the plane in the air  (if that magical thinking attitude makes sense).

So I didn't worry.  And going through security was a breeze (seriously, can the media make something seem 1000x worse than it is).  And I will fly again before another 12 years goes by.

And I learned a lot.  And I met some incredible people.  And I learned a lot about myself. And I toured DC and loved it.  And I came home inspired to write again.  Write well again.  And that was worth it.

And while on my last post I said you will see me at Seattle 2014, I've been thinking about maybe Boston...  I confess, while I like to say AWP is overwhelming to me (and it is), it is worth a few moments of being uncomfortable for the bigger moments it produces.  And it came through for me there.

Amen.

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5 comments:

Jeannine said...

So glad you went, but sad I wasn't there to pal around! Next time...I love Boston, by the way, one of my all-time favorite cities. I would live there if it wasn't so cold and expensive...

Sandy Longhorn said...

Oh, Kelli, so sad to not have met you there. My messed up flights meant no chance to see the White Pine reading and not a lot of time at the bookfair.

Lyle Daggett said...

I also didn't get any reports of poets behaving badly at AWP. I guess they took the bad behavior offsite, to the Bad Behavior reading. Hee hee...

I didn't find any time for sightseeing as such, though I did see a few landmarks on the way to and from the airport, and on the way to the hotel our airport shuttle van driver gave us an informal historical tour of things we were passing along the way, which was pretty cool.

What probably left the strongest impression on me, the first day there (I flew in on Wednesday), going by the Potomac, was that it was the first time in well over a month that I'd seen an outdoor body of water that wasn't frozen.

(High temp here today was something like 4 degrees.)

Chef E said...

I adore Kay Ryan, and maybe if poets at AWP are not careful they may end up on a 'Bad Behaving Poets Gone Wild Video', or is it not that kind of bad behavior LOL since I am not one of those kind of poet folks, I wouldn't know bad behavior...hmmm, I may eat those words one day...

I missed the AWP this year, had plans of meeting Jessie there, but not sure she even made it...

Angie said...

Kelli:

So glad I got the chance to meet you in person. I confess I am also the type that goes to readings by myself and don't usually introduce myself to people I don't know. But when I saw you standing outside the bar at the Marriott, I thought, what the heck. (I recognized you from your picture on the blog.) And if I hadn't already made plans that night I definitely would have invited you to dinner. I went to the Amy Hempel reading afterwards--by myself.

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