Minnesota Public Radio did a segment on AWP. “Thirteen thousand writers descend on Minneapolis!” We were a herd of locusts, bratty talkers filling up the coffeeshops, staying at the Vietnamese restaurant until they kicked us out.
It was like being in college again, only with smart phones. I texted people about meeting for dinner. My grad school friend and another woman, who introduced herself to Grad Friend at a bar the first night of the conference, were my comrades. Going to a panel was fine, but going to a panel with one of them was better. Like college, I had no solitude.
I walked by a thousand famous poets. People checked my badge to see who I was like they might check out my breasts if I had any to speak of. I failed to pitch my work a thousand times. At the end of the day I left a panel (that I had attended alone) before it was over because it was going so very wrong. Instead of going to the networking event I really should have gone to, I collared DP and a man I barely knew. Ten minutes later we were drinking whiskey in the bar.
I had met the man at the bookfair through a friend and, like Grad Friend and me, we didn’t want to leave each other. Old friends. By the end of the night I was holding forth with poets and fiction writers I had met in [City redacted], telling them with beery overconfidence that workshops were full of people not smart enough for them.
At 4 am, hungover and exhausted, I dragged my sorry ass out of bed and left the irritating inspiring hotbed of writers and the place of my youth. Two flights and a car ride later, I am so fucking glad to be home. But I miss my people.