Thursday, March 09, 2006

AWP: Day 1

Date:
Thursday, March 9, 2005

Lodging:
Radisson Hotel, Congress and Cesar Chavez, room on 3rd floor, lakeside

Interesting Fact for the Day:
I listened to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" on the 14-hour drive out yesterday. I dig it.

Other Bloggers Seen:
Eduardo C. Corral and Reb Livingston

First Impression:
Holy ****, how does anyone decide which book/journal/whatever to buy at the bookfair? It's frickin huge!

Second Impression:
It's my first AWP, but it seems like there's an inordinate number of poets here, including panels relating to poetry; like 85% or something.

Third Impression:
While the Austin Convention Center is amiable enough, there are absolutely no benches outside, and very few places to stroll to buy a sandwich. What gives? It's gorgeous weather, and who wants to stay inside and dish out $14 for a danish, bottle of water, and coffee at the consessions stand when you can find a local haunt (or rather, should be able to find said local haunt)?

Final Impression:
Why do big names sign on to panels and then not show up? Praytell Sam Hamill and Alberto Rios, do praytell?

Great Meetings:
I met my book's publisher, Ireland's Salmon Poetry, for the first time: Jessie Lendennie. It was great to see her, and then meet many of the other Salmon poets: Philip Fried, Marck Beggs, and Eamonn Wall. Anne le Marquand Hartigan couldn't make it.

Biggest Absense:
Sadly, I'm not rooming with Jake Adam York, who had to pass late on AWP this year. Perhaps, since it's nearly 1 a.m. local time, that's a good thing. Peace Jake, peace. Also sad that former teacher Rod (R.T.) Smith couldn't make it out.

Best Find:
The new literary journal Ecotone: Reimagining Place, published twice yearly at University of North Carolina, Wilmington. It's a surprisingly, eerily similar journal to Terrain.org, though print only, but a beautiful journal with outstanding contributors, like Mark Doty, Cynthia Huntington, Philip Levine, AE Stallings, and Gerald Stern in the first issue.

Sessions:
Only made it to two panels today since I spent the morning both scoping out the bookfair, and participating in my signing. Thanks to all three of you who purchased books!

  • Literary Citizens: the writer's responsibility to fellow citizens, with Kamau Daaood, Kinky Friedman, Leslie Schwartz, and Sebastian Matthews. Well, that's who was supposed to be there. I know Kinky wasn't, and don't know the rest, and since I showed up a few minutes late, didn't get intros. Fair session.
  • Mysticism, Medicines, and the Other: Writing Traditions in Place, with Norma Cantu, J. Michael Martinez, Pat Mora, Alexander Parsons, Alberto Rios (no show), and Margaret Yocum. Excellent session.

Evening Events:
Dinner at IronWorks BBQ (good company, fairly disappointing grub). Then: Writers Who Play, Year II, upstairs at The Ritz and featuring, among others, Mike Shay from Wyoming, Marck Beggs from Arkansas, Jeff Talmadge from Georgia, Bryce Milligan from Texas, and Jim Clark from North Carolina. Marck, a Salmon Poet, played some great acoustic guitar with fun ditties about his seven ex-wives (two now lesbians, one now a hat) and our love for food, not excepting, perhaps, rotten bananas.

Parting Thoughts:
It's true that I'm no Brad Pitt or Orlando Bloom, etc., but the fluorescent light in my hotel bathroom must highlight every blemish I've ever had since puberty struck---and perhaps a few before then. Not a confidence builder, I tell you.

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