Today I did not leave AWP feeling as if I had been run over by a truck. Instead the feeling was more like being run over by a particularly heavy bicycle. This is an improvement.
Here’s what I learned today:
1. It is more important to talk to people who are your friends than to go to panels. I came in later, and had a good talk with a friend. The guy sitting next to us (whose sandwich I mocked by mistake—long story) started talking to us and it turns out that a) he’s moderately famous and b) he was a really nice guy and we all had interesting things to say.
2. People who check their email during a poetry reading should be smacked upside the head at the very least. The poetry reading was a reading by Cave Canem. I had never heard Tracy Smith read, and her poems were so good that I cried. (Well, that and they were about missing her dead mother, which is really why I cried, but they were still quite good.) The other readers, some of whom I heard before and others of whom I hadn’t, were great. It was a fantastic reading.
3. I don’t care how good a writer someone is, an animated lecture about why arts are important has no place at AWP. Instead of preaching to the choir, tell us something we need to know. I walked out of that one and went back up to get my book signed by Tracy Smith. Swoon.
4. I’m a lot funnier when I’m pissed off.