AWP conference stories from poet-bloggers have come and gone, and I'm way behind. Consider this image representative of my experience two weeks ago. I had the pleasure of dining with my poe-pal Kim and her friends Susan, Jessica, and Elizabeth 3 out of 4 nights, often accompanied by the gallant David, who we joked was our "hander" and who introduced me to his Bennington bud Reb. On this particular evening, Susan's friend Danielle joined us at a swanky restaurant in the Warehouse District called Starlite--exquisite food in small portions.
Other social highlights: I was one of an apparent cast of thousands who dined with the fab Denise and Nick at Stubbs over the course of their stay (though I am nowhere to be found on Carbonator--I think I broke the camera). Ran into Carly, who was staying on the same floor, and old friends from Cincinnati: April Lindner, Stephen Frech, Lee Newton, Don Bogen (my dissertation director!). Watched bats fly out from under the bridge. Saw Piotr, Peter, Sarah, Martha, Kevin in the book fair, missed Gaylord, Deborah, and many others. Hung out with Randy for about 2 minutes. Met Aimee in the elevator, and Mary in my discussion group in the Pedagogy Forum multi-genre session--and at the Rhino table. Ran into Scottie and Jose, Mark, C. Dale, Sandra, et al. New Yorkers Anna and Stephan were staying in my hotel. If I have forgotten anyone, please let me know!
Oh, and of course there was the actual conference. The Pedagogy Forum rocked, thanks to Brian, Leilani, Liz, and Ander; I was glad to be a part of it. Greatly enjoyed panels on teaching creative writing to non-English majors, a pow-wow of Creative Nonfiction bigwigs, and prosody for 21st century poets featuring Tom Cable, Tim Steele, Annie Finch and the incomparable Marilyn L. Taylor. Readings by a number of fine poets. The Book Fair with its usual hyperventilation-inducing plenitude. And, of course the hotel lobby bar and after-hours parties, where the names on your syllabus come to (often inebriated) life. You gotta love AWP!
Props to Beth Frost and Charles Flowers for getting me through the flight there, to Rachel Wetzsteon for the New Yorker mags, and to John Talbird for distracting conversation on the flight back (including a lovely sojourn in Hartford due to fog at JFK). Read a cool article on absinthe while bumping over the stormy midwest in the little Embraer jet. Finally made it home in a gypsy cab at 1:30 a.m., only 4 hours late. Whew.