Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Pre-AWP Post

This evening, I'm taking the train to Chicago. It's an overnight trip, 9:30 to 10:45 the next morning. I've never taken a train, other than a slow Adirondack scenic one. My idea of train travel comes from the movies, Strangers on a Train, or North by Northwest. Like, should I wear a hat? A chignon? The hotel we're staying in is historic and grande, full of gold and chandeliers.

What do I expect? AWP is overwhelming. My best analogy is that it's like the New York State Fair. You end up carrying around bags of stuff, walking a lot, eating too much, or too little, drinking too much. It can be loud. There's a lot of people watching to do. I know a lot of people who like to complain about it. It's too much, too taxing, too stressful, too everything. But really, it's kind of awesome.

There will be men in beards. Somehow, the male writer population under 40 or so all look like Zach Galifianakis to me. There will be impossibly thin women in lace tights. They tend to look a little gaunt. A little sad. I think they might be poets.

I'm giving a reading . . . of poems. I will not be thin, though, or sad, or wearing lace tights. I'm on a panel celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Comstock Review, who will publish two poems of mine in forthcoming issues. I'm joined by managing editor, Georgia Popoff, (aka, travel buddy, roommate, bff), and poets Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Bertha Rogers, who also runs the fantastic Bright Hill Press and Literary Center.

The best parts: seeing people you haven't seen since last year, or the year before. Meeting up at the hotel bar at the end of a long day. New people. Connecting names with faces at literary magazines and presses. Seeing who has the best book fair swag. A great city, and a huge lake. 

The worst part: there isn't one. But I'll report back next week.

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