AWP Recap

In Denver, they like things big here!

  • AWP is massive! Every year I'm surprised how many people show up to these conferences even in a down economy. I will break out my Flip camera and walk around the book fair so you can see what I mean.

  • Went to four sessions yesterday. During previous conferences, I would pack in as many sessions as possible. But this year is more relaxed for me. I'm more interested in meeting people, especially those I only know virtually. Can't tell you how rewarding that has been.

  • All the poets I've met have been very kind--no posturing or drama or whatever. Of course, this is day 3. Anything can happen.

And now, a few photos.

poet J.D. Scrimgeour and composer Phil Swanson during their session, Confluence. They were terrific, and answered quiet a few questions after the performance. Their CD project, Ogunquit, has been picked up by Tupelo Press for distribution. Woo hoo!

From the Kundiman panel discussion. Kundiman is a group that nurtures and fosters the talents of Asian American poets, with close ties to Cave Canem. Nice to see these writers thrive.

Poet Rick Barot.

Had a terrific lunch with Susan Rich, author of The Alchemist's Kitchen! We had never met until yesterday, and what great fun it was to sit and speak with her. She's so talented fun! And, we both have Kelli to thank for bringing us together. *smile*

This is the panel from Black Goat Press, started by Chris Abani. Left to right: Kate Durbin, Amatoritsero Ede, Karen Harryman, Gabriela Jauregui, and Rick Reid.

Had a chance to meet Kate Durbin after the panel. She also was selected as one of Poets & Writers 12 debut poets in the Jan/Feb Inspiration Issue. During the Q&A, she talked about how important fashion is to her and how she likes to bring that element into her readings. Very cool.

I'm not going to do this panel justice. This is Donald Revell and Tony Hoagland at their session Poetry After the '00s: What Comes Next? The session dealt with where poetry is going, but I swear it was like watching an existential version of "the dozens." These two are funny together. Much of it went above my head, but it was fascinating. Here are a few gems:
  • Hoagland: "It's a glorious time [for poetry]. There is an enormous amount of form and experimentation and energy out there.
  • Hoagland, referring to the concept of "the new poetry": It's a hybrid; it's connected to the history of poetry and to the world."
  • Hoagland: What we do poetically, there is so much crossover it's like we're "passing through each other's comet trails."
  • Hoagland on negative aspects of the new poetry: "The new poetry is in love with its own cleverness."
  • Revell: "Poetry has existed as an argument against the limits of language. Poetry is a home for testing these limits."
  • Revell: "By shedding language, we shed our humanity. There is something beyond our own humanity. Poets are tasked with imagining that next state."
  • Revell: "What is a line? It is a turn. It is a conversion. It is a way to get from line 1 to line 2. If the line doesn't work, then you haven't been converted. We are leaving something behind when we write the next line. It is an old species and we are creating something new."
  • Hoagland; "Poetry isn't born. It comes from the constant factor of our suffering. We constantly try to figure out why life hurts so much. [Writing poetry] is about renewal."
  • Revell: "Suffering is a form of attachment. We are so attached to certain definitions--that's where the suffering happens."
  • Revell: "I believe there is another shore, but we're not going to get there by the rearrangement of ideas."

I think I'll stop there. There was so much volleying going on I couldn't keep up. I liked thinking about the new poetry as an unattainable place that we're all trying to get to. But if you recognize the form or style as a poem, then it's not the new poetry. Fascinating. And I like thinking of poetry as a way of wrapping ourselves around the human condition, much of which is suffering in some form.

Revell and Hoagland were two sides of the poetic coin.


Thanks for this update! And so glad you met Susan!

I wish I was there, but plan on DC in 2011!

love these updates. Very inspiring.
Jessie Carty said…
every book i sell is going towards AWP 2011!

Love reading these recaps. Chicago 09 was my first AWP and I think I attended too many sessions. Looking forward to hanging out with more people in 2011.
Jennifer said…
OMG Donald Revell and Tony Hoagland! I wish I could've feasted on their words in person--so much food for thought! A-Mazing!
newzoopoet said…
I'm eating this up! Thanks, January!!

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