Friday, March 02, 2007

A Few Random Thoughts from AWP: Day One

(The first three photos are from the book fair. The last one was from a day session.)

Ella and I flew in on Wednesday afternoon, and overall I give her in-flight behavior an A-. She was damn near perfect, and except for the last 30 minutes in the air, she was an angel.

Yesterday it rained and it was 60 degrees. Wednesday, the temp was near 80 and beautiful. I’m not complaining, though—in Massachusetts, I think it’s 35 degrees and they just got some sort of winter mix.

Here are a few thoughts on my first day at AWP Atlanta.

1. Poetry is an incestuous community. Everybody knows everybody. And the people I knew 10 years ago in my MFA program are now part of the poetry establishment. Who would have thunk it?

2. Most of the major U.S. publishers (independent and corporate) and distributors bring their authors to read their new collections and anthologies, but there are many smaller presses and new journals here, both print and online.

3. Attending the book fair is like entering a Wal-Mart of poetry. Just a sea of mediocrity and published poets that, unfortunately, no one has heard of. But I was thrilled by the increased numbers of independent publishers and online journals with tables at this year's conference. Lots of high quality offerings—which is good news for those of us who want to swim against the tide.

4. The panel discussions are OK at best. But I’ve really enjoyed the readings and the combinations of poets sharing the stage during the sessions.

5. Attended a reading by Cave Canem celebrating a new anthology celebrating Southern writers. Also attended a 10th anniversary celebration and reading for Poetry Daily. They also have an anthology coming out soon.

That’s it for now. More pictures and juicy updates to come.


poet with a day job said...

Hey J - any chance Amber Thomas is at the conference? She might have read at the Cave Canem reading...she's a good friend of mine teaching up in Alaska now. Her first book was Eye of Water, winner of a CC award.

Anyway, I like your description of the wal mart sea of poetry books and how unknown we all are. I am glad to have found some good poets online and I swear I do like your idea of an AWP contingent next year!

Catherine said...

That's interesting about the Poetry Daily anthology - I have their first one and it's a treasure.

January said...

Catherine: The folks behind Poetry Daily worked in law offices and decided they wanted to make poetry more accessible to the masses. They really seem like nice folks who truly love poetry.

PWADJ: I don't know Amber but will ask around to see if she's here. One thing about the CC folks, doesn't take long for us to congregate. We tend to gravitate to one another, even in large crowds.


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