Having family in the Atlanta area and also having just begun a poetry submission service, www.poeticeffect.com, it made sense to attend the annual AWP conference this year to do a little networking. It was fantastic to get out of the Arctic Circle for a little while at least.
Day one conference highlights included a panel on crossing genres to non-fiction which quickly digressed into a lively discussion on how to make money as a writer (writing children's books seems to be a solid source of revenue).
Day two's best panel dealt with experimental poetry and the workshop, where one view compared the workshop to a group of people deciding on restaurant options--no one can ever seem to agree. Timothy Liu offered a wine analogy where poems may be considered types of wine. Tim asked us to consider "how" the poem means as more revelatory than "what" the poem means. I would ask those of you with whom I share work to remember this the next time I bring along a "language" poem.
Day two ended with a fine reading by Terrance Hayes. Charles Wright followed. The two very different reading and poetry styles didn't quite mix well.
Day three began with a panel on our elegaic age which had me thinking of M. J. Iuppa and her research on the elegy. Successful elegies were described as remaining in the "now" with the speaker's voice implicating itself through tone. Would M. J. agree with that assessment?
A mostly "Bennington" panel on the contemporary "I" provided few surprises. Liam Rector sees the "I" as an "other" while Timothy Liu sees the "I" as "me" qualified as a lie. In other words, "I" is me except when it isn't. Don't we all add a little cumin to spice up those confessions for impact?
The book fair was as expected: very tired and sometimes hung-over editors waiting for someone to turn the air conditioning on (they finally did the last day). Most representatives offered chocolates if not free copies of their journals. I have to say that I am very pleased with the high quality of journals and magazines represented. Beautiful covers, strong work in-between.
It was good to visit with Garner Powell and Suzannah Simpson, who will both be graduating with their MFAs from Bennington College in June. Suzannah has work forthcoming in Nimrod. Gardner has interviewed Donald Hall, which I'm sure we'll see in print very soon.