Ok. So trying to process a conference like AWP the day after you get back is like trying to move after eating most of an extra-large pepperoni, bacon, and sausage pizza by yourself. But I'm gonna try anyway.
Best Session: Definitely S140 "Promotion as Art: Thinking Beyond the Book Trailer." This session focused on five poets who had films made of their poems as promotion for their books. Photographed by David Flores, the short films get straight to the heart of the poem and the poet. This film of Ellen Hagan's "Things to Tell Araceli" is really beautiful. What a terrific way for poets and poems to reach a larger audience!
Best Reading: I'll have to post two here. The first was the reading I participated in with Found Poetry Review. The 17 poets who participated had to read poems we had written while at AWP, no small feat, let me tell you. I wrote four out of eight prompts, and the last one was finished less than an hour before the reading. I have never felt such energy and a clear sense of play at another reading. Dan Chelotti's poem in response to the "Overheard at AWP" was particularly animated. I wish I had taken video! Also, the reading was at artist Allen Christian's House of Balls, a fascinating place filled with art created from found pieces, and the perfect venue for a found poetry reading. Check out this carved bowling ball sculpture (hence the name of the place!):
The second reading was by Ray McManus from his book Punch and Jon Pineda from his book Little Anodynes. I had read Punch before going to AWP, and I was happy to get to hear McManus read. I bought Pineda's book at AWP, and after hearing him read, I am really looking forward to reading it!
Best New-to-Me Journal at the Book Fair: Hoot. This is a literary magazine that comes to you once a month in the form of an illustrated poem on a post card! I love this idea, and now I have a good example for how to do the post card reward for my Kickstarter poetry and art book project. 17 days to go! Check it out and please, consider backing my project.
Best Thing Seen at the Book Fair: An old typewriter converted to transmit to the iPad as seen at the London Review of Books Booth. Who could resist signing up for their mailing list when you get to use this?
Best Food: 'Cause, you know, it's important! Definitely the Hen House Eatery. I had their rancheros tostadas twice, and they were fantastic. Black beans, avocado, eggs, queso fresco, fresh salsa, cilantro...mmmmmm. Yummy.
Of course, seeing old friends and meeting new friends was wonderful, and I had many, many interesting conversations with them about writing, reading, philosophy, science, art, travel...oh, and beer. Let's not forget that.
Thanks AWP, and thanks Minneapolis for hosting all 13,000 of us! Your mayor is awesome! I had a blast.