AWP Atlanta: Make it "Newfangled"
A few random AWP experiences:
John Barr went in a chicken suit. Well, mostly. He was listed in the program as going to deliver a version of his essay (and I use the term loosely) that was published in the September issue of POETRY. Instead, he got up and told us that since he published it, and there was reaction and “reaction to the reaction,” that we were most likely quite familiar with the whole thing, he felt no desire to do a retread. (Or a revision or recantation or justification. For any of which I was hoping.)
So he tossed a 20 minute “verbal brochure” (as the person with whom I was sitting, Rosie Ballew, termed it) at us. At one point he even had us all applaud for ourselves and the publishers and editors doing “the good work for poetry” downstairs. And then he said something about “newfangled” poetry and left the stage before any questions could be asked.
I told Matthew Zapruder that my mother-in-law sent me his The Pajamaist for my birthday, to which he replied: “That’s the strangest sentence I’ve heard here.”
As he turned to leave, he said, “Thank your mother-in-law for me,” to which I replied: “That’s the strangest sentence I’ve heard here.”
Strange realization: There are many poets who have no idea how dismissed John Ashbery is, especially in the universities in the center of the country.
Strange realization number two: Most everyone I know already knows most everyone else I know.
I spoke with several people who agree that it’s a particular emergency that Jennifer Militello’s wonderful first book hasn’t yet been published.
Four Way Books (apologies to the rest of the bookfair . . .) is the most exciting and friendly and wonderful press. I had tremendous fun hanging around their table making a general nuisance of myself.
In the same way, it was great to meet (if all too briefly) the other Four Way Books authors who I bumped into: Deborah Bernhardt and C. Dale Young (who we all agree has the best laugh of AWP—and the most to celebrate with what he’s been through in the publication process of The Second Person) and Ellen Dudley and Jeffery Harrison . . .
I find that I got to bed, and therefore wake up, much earlier than Wayne Miller.
Some books I left with:
In No One’s Land. Paige Ackerson-Kiely
Shade, edited by David Dodd Lee
Rise Up. Matthew Rohrernew one
The Kitchen Sink. Albert Goldbarth (Also the heaviest book I lugged home from AWP as well as the one with the funniest inscription and the most practical premium: a drain stopper)
Hams beneath the Firmament. Terri Ford
Fata Morgana. Reginald Shepherd (who now sports a beard!)
The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World. Paul Guest
Things That Never Happened. Gordon Osing
Wayne Miller. Only the Senses Sleep
Rift. Forrest Hamer
Prairie Fever. Mary Biddinger
Becoming the Villainess. Jeannine Hall Gailey
The Second Person. C. Dale Young
Incomplete Knowledge. Jeffrey Harrison
The Geographic Cure. Ellen Dudley
Conviction’s Net of Branches. Michael Heller
I was worried about my suitcase (I only travel with a carry-on, so I don’t have much space) filling up, but, even with that, I can’t believe I left without Donald Revell’s wonderful new translation of Rimbaud, or Christopher Arigo’s new one, or Rae Armantrout’s, or Zachary Schomburg's The Man Suit . . . back to my amazon wish list they go . . .
I had a wonderful time talking with any people about any things. It was great to meet people I only knew through emails and blogs: Paul Guest, C. Dale Young, Mary Biddinger, Charles Jensen, Jeannine Hall Gailey . . .
And the talented contributors to The Laurel Review, like Greg Wrenn . . .
And to meet people doing fun and innovative things, and then, with that, as all AWP trips, the whole thing just dissolves into a long list of names . . . Infernoesque, I’ve decided. The level of the winds.
I will just say this: I had a good time. It was great to be able to talk about, and hear others talking about John Ashbery (the panel I was on). It was a particular joy to be at the Four Way Books table. It was fun, even at The Laurel Review table. And having a drink here and there with who and whom.