Although I’ve been to several regional conferences of various stripes, I had never been to AWP before. For those of you who don’t know, AWP is when a bunch of writers get together and try to pull off a national conference. Downith asked if I took notes, and I told her I take terrible notes. But as I sat in the room where the first panel was held, I came to realize I take copious notes, just not when I’m paying attention.
Here are some sample notes from my trusty notebook.
Oh, by all means, when reading in public embrace the monotone, because no one came this far in the sideways snow to actually listen to anybody. Talk away from the mic whenever possible, and try not to dye your hair in a color that is flattering to your face.
Do not read your talk from the page. It kills all the spontaneity of the presentation. You might as well be speaking in monotone.
What is the use of talking about poetry when I could just be writing it?
(Note to submit to [press name redacted])
I realize the ways in which I’m an applied writer, by which I mean thank god I’m not a scholar.
Poet voice must die.
The panel perked up after that, but it was hard going in the beginning. I learned that the books all go on sale on Saturday because no one wants to pay to ship them home. I also learned that manning a table when you’ve been a bookseller is dead easy. I learned that getting chatted up at AWP is much easier than getting chatted up elsewhere. (I told DP it was because I was having a cute hair day and he told me that it was because I looked like a writer. I decided that that was a compliment.)
Probably the coolest thing about the whole bookfair was watching the New York Times guy getting ignored while everyone flocked around the small presses.