I had the chance and so, why not, I took the chance and went to AWP this year. Now—and as promised the other day (below)—I’ll blog about it. What’s AWP? It may look like a barbaric yawp from Whitman, but as some readers may know it’s the contrived but conveniently simple acronym for the Association of Writers andWriting Programs. They do an assortment of things that associations do, and they hold an annual conference. So for here and now, at least, “the AWP” means their big conference of writers, publishers, editors, and other people interested in writing. This year they met in Chicago. The AWP hosts readings as well as panels for writers and others to talk about more or less anything related to writing or, more specifically, to so-called creative writing. Or so you might hope—though I was disappointed to find no panels (at least this year) on avant-garde (or whatever you want to call it) poetry (or whatever you want to call it).
What do 10,000 writers look like? I was surprised not to be surprised. They looked like anyone else. On the street, I couldn’t tell who were the writers and who were the ordinary Chicagoans, unless they sported AWP paraphernalia (a book bag with advertising, a name badge that too chummily put the last name in smaller print, making the badge more or less useless, a program that weighed too much). I expected lots of showy dressers, but nope. Also, the writers came in every age, but disproportionately they were older than I expected. Maybe when you come in all ages the now grey boomers overwhelm the series of post-boomer boomlets. Maybe boomers more often had access to the moolah it might take to go to a conference, especially during the recession.
I could talk about the panels, but that might get more personal about the panelists than I want to get here (fun though it might be). Some panels were good, some were bad, some were in between—no surprises there. For me, the surprises came in a torrent at the amazing book and journal exhibits, and that’s what I’ll take up in our next installment, forthcoming soon (as they say in book and journal lingo). Check back in a couple days or so.