Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Ubiquitous AWP Blog Post

I'm home. And the deal is off. Forget that coconut creamer nonsense. I'm off the wagon. 

That was one consequence of AWP 2019. 
Long Story Short: Five Oaks Press (um, Rob Davidson and Jennifer Spiegel), though defunct, shared a table with Bear Star Press. I had a lot of fun talking with Beth Spencer. Beth was a great woman--a little hippie, a poetess and a painter. Married for 40+ years. Loved her dog. 

I'll share the adventure. But first, since most of my readers are normal people with real jobs, allow me to explain! Finally! Has anyone explained it yet? AWP stands for the Associated Writing Programs, and there's this annual conference of mostly--but not exclusively--academics and writers who gather in one city or another to discuss writing and books and teaching and literary journals. It's at once inspiring and daunting. Writers feel the sense of community, and that is the best part.

I don't go every year. I go probably every three to five years, This time, it was in Portland--and here are the photos!

The keynote address was by Colson Whitehead, who turned out to be funny. Who knew? He won the Pulitzer, friends. I think his prose is beautiful.
I'm a bit of a groupie. He signed my copies of The Underground Railroad and my teaching copy of Zone One.  I wanted to say something memorable to him, but my guess is that I made absolutely no impression on him whatsoever. 

Terese Marie Mailhot
Lan Samantha Chang
I only attended two panels, but I'm giving a craft talk in Kentucky this summer. It'll likely be on . . . creating intimacy in fiction!

This is Kurt Baumeister. Kurt is a voice of snap-crackle-pop rage-against-the-machine, calling out Big Brother,  and writing prose that'll set the political pundits straight. 
Erika Sanchez: Snotty Literati reviewed her book, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, last year.

Rion Amilcar Scott signed his book for me.
I think this cover is AMAZING.

Bonnie Nadzam participated in the other panel I got to go to, and I found her super sharp and articulate. For those interested in her topic, please check this out: MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS 

Mary Kenagy! Mary and I both went to ASU for our MFAs, and I slept on her couch in Seattle one weekend twenty years ago.

More ASU friends! Ayse Papatya Bucak and Susan Allspaw Pomeroy

This was actually the first time that I met Dave in person, but it really was like meeting an old friend. I'm serious. And, Dave, thank you for coming to my reading! Jean and you, Tim and I: dinner soon!

Charles Jensen:I see Charlie and I always sense chic and hip, yeah?

I didn't buy it. Should I have?
This guy had a great voice. He was working the conference, and I asked him if he read often. He said that his family had a library in their home and they were huge readers. I gave him my book. He felt weird about it, but I insisted. PLEASE MSG ME IF YOU KNOW HIS NAME!!!

We read! Actually, I thought we sounded pretty good.

A highlight was meeting Rob Davidson and having some real conversation.

Some of my book haul.

Jackie Cowsill is such a great friend to me, and a real believer in my novel. She's been its advocate from the beginning, and my love and gratitude is immense. She drove in from Eugene, OR--just to go to dinner and visit Powell's with me.

What kind of trip to Portland would it be without a visit to Powell's and a few Portlandia jokes.


So, I came home and my daughters are full-blown teeny-boppers (pretty much)--so they missed me like crazy, but also immediately loathed my very existence. I am feeling energized by this writerly calling, though I'm longing for long bouts of private time with the pets. Here's to writing that new novel! Here's to cream in your coffee!


  1. I love everything about this blog post. Except maybe for the fact that you DIDN'T buy that goofy cat book.

    Loved finally meeting you!

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