Monday, February 16, 2009
Sorry for the hiatus in posting, but I just returned to Boston after a 4-day trip to Chicago for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference. Students from Creative Writing MFA programs around the country attended, as well as authors, journalists, writing professors, and representatives from literary journals and publishing houses. There were panel discussions, readings, slams, book signings, and a lot of schmoozing/networking events with drink tickets. I'm exhausted, but overall enjoyed myself and met some interesting people in the industry.
Among my favorite panel titles:
Don't Stand so Close to Me: Controlling Narrative Distance
Jewish Poetry vs. Poetry by Jews
Gay Regionalism through the Eyes of Appalachia
Avoiding Sick Mothers, Absent Fathers, and Losing Your Virginity: The Tropes and Traps of Nonfiction
Quantum Narratology: Toward a Transactional Interpretation
I didn't actually attend any of those, but the titles tempted me. I did check out something called "Bad Poems by Great Poets," which was entertaining. It's refreshing to realize that even people like Wallace Stevens wrote a few stinkers. And to be able to discuss how much undeserved exposure Galway Kinnell's sex poem "Rapture" gets, especially around Valentine's Day. From a craft standpoint, it's just not his best.
The highlights of my AWP experience included hearing Paul Muldoon and Mary Jo Bang read and discuss their work, drinking with Emerson students at bars other than The Tam, and scoring literally dozens of free pens and notepads off tables at the Bookfair. I learned about applying for fellowships and getting published, and that unleashing a bunch of writers and academics at an open bar dance party results in utter chaos. You haven't lived until you've seen a bespectacled gray-haired professor doing the Worm.
I also found time during my stay to stop by The Wieners Circle, get dim sum in Chinatown, and enjoy a dirty martini at the very old school steakhouse Myron and Phil, as featured on the local Chicago TV show "Check, Please!" hosted by Alpana Singh.
My kind of town, Chicago is! And it just struck me how syntactically odd that song lyric is.