Faculty Spotlight: me!

Every few weeks or so, the community college where I teach selects a couple of faculty members to highlight by posting a photo of them in the hallway alongside a kind of Q&A about their personal life. It’s a fun way for the students to get to know their teachers and for us faculty to get to know each other. I’ve certainly enjoyed standing in the hallway and catching up on my colleagues.

Well, this week, I got featured on the board, and I thought it would be fun to share my Q&A responses with y’all. :)


I let my wife pick the photo.

I let my wife pick the photo.

Instructor’s Name & Subject: Samuel “Dr. Sam” Snoek-Brown, Writing.

Educational Background: PhD in English (creative writing), University of North Texas (2007); MA in English, West Texas A&M University (2001); BA in English, Schreiner University (1999).

Short bio: I was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas but I got to Oregon as fast as I could. In between, I’ve lived in Wisconsin and the United Arab Emirates, and my wife and I have traveled to Canada and Europe and Asia. When I’m not teaching or traveling, I write fiction: I’ve published a chapbook of short stories and a novel called Hagridden.

Hobbies & Interests: Writing (no, seriously! it’s not just my job!), hiking, coin-collecting, travel.

Favorite food: “Mexican macaroni” (my own recipe!).

Favorite Sport: I’m so lazy that I don’t even watch sports.

Favorite Pet: Our two cats, Ibsen and Brontë (yes, they’re named after writers).

Favorite Movie: Book of Kings (a short film by Chris Terrio), Amelie, Kundun, American Beauty, 12 Angry Men.

Favorite Music: I have varied taste, but lately I’ve been fixated on Summer Camp. But I’m also a recovering metal-head.

Favorite Book: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Beth Ann Fennelly’s Tender Hooks, Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, Chris Ware’s Building Stories.

Favorite Person in History: Guilty pleasure: Vlad III of Wallachia. But really it’s Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Favorite Moment in my Life: The day I met my wife.

Nickname: I don’t really have one, but I once earned the epithet “Alamo” after a rousing game of paintball.

Favorite Place I’ve been: Oregon! But for travel, it’s probably a tie between Scotland and the Netherlands, both the homelands of my great-grandparents.

Favorite Teacher and why? Billie C. Hoffmann, my 7th-grade English teacher and 8th-grade yearbook teacher. She treated me like a fellow scholar and a colleague even though I was just a kid; she made me feel like my personal writing and my interests were important, that they were as much a part of my education as anything I learned in a classroom. I carry that with me today and strive to share that with my own students.

This is The End, but not of the Jersey Devil

2015-May coverThe May issue of Jersey Devil Press is out, and it’s full of the usual shenanigans: stunning prose poems, otherworldly obelisks invoking transcendence, blessed/cursed warriors, anthropomorphic animals in the workplace, and, of course, the apocalypse at the end of it all.

Everything always ends in the apocalypse.

There’s even some moody noir artwork on the cover, courtesy of Canadian artist Allen Forrest.

But don’t worry, dear readers: “the end” (as in the apocalypse) is an ongoing thing, especially at JDP, and we’ll be back in June with more amazing for you to read!

AWP Minneapolis wrap-up: my students respond

Back from Minneapolis less than 24 hours and I was in my classroom, rearranging the tables and spreading out all my books, magazines, brochures, business cards, submission flyers, notebooks, pens, fake tattoos, noisemakers, and buttons, creating my own miniature bookfair for my students. And yes, I let them take a lot of what I brought back (but not my books!), and afterward, I went through a rundown of the panels I attended and answered questions.

But none of this was much of a surprise to my students, because they’d been following my blog the whole time I was away, and I’d required them to write responses to my AWP adventures. A lot of those responses included some interesting comments and questions, so I asked their permission to share some of those here on the blog. Only a few gave that permission, which I understand — it’s hard putting your words out there! But even this small sampling should give you an idea of how engaged my students were, and their emails and response posts were a big part of what kept me going that last day of the conference!

From my composition course:

It was [great] that, seeing that we all are writing about our communities that we are involved in, we get a digital view of the wider version of the community you are involved in, which is awesome. The layout gives me a blueprint to a degree of how to layout my community papers that I’m actually eager to write about.

~ Salim Hakeem

My comp class this term is writing a series of essays about a community; each student selects her or his own community, and their first essay is primarily a definition essay explaining what that community is and how it functions. I get some terrific topics from my students — this term, I’ve got churches and make-up salespeople and music groups and a waste treatment plant — but it was nice the turn the tables and show them a bit of one community I belong to. This was really just a happy accident, a result of timing more than design, but I’m glad it happened and gladder still that Salim pointed it out to me!

I bet it was really exciting being surrounded by authors like yourself. Did you also autograph your books for people? It sounded like fun, meeting for dinner and drinks with all your friends. Did you have to wear a tux at all?

What is your old mentor like? Your old professor David Breeden? That’d be so cool to see the one that’s responsible for you becoming what you were meant to become, or what you wanted to be.

Also, what is a full novella manuscript?

~ Ruby Ritter

A lot of students sent me question-heavy responses, which I loved. So I thought I’d use this post as a way to answer a few of them:

As a matter of fact, I did sell or trade all but one of my books, and yes, I did autograph a few of them! I also got a ton of autographs — practically every book I brought back has a signature. I love the stories those handwritten names and inscriptions tell when I read and reread the books later.

I never did wear a tux, but I did nearly pack my kilt for the conference. My wife and I have been binging on the Outlander tv series (and my wife is reading the first novel now), so I’ve been in a particularly Scottish mood lately. And I’ll take any excuse I can get to wear the kilt! But my wife, wise and practical woman that she is, reminded me that I was packing carry-on only and the kilt weighs half a ton, and even my casual cargo kilt is no light garment. So, alas, I left them at home. No fancy dress for dinner. :(

David Breeden is much as he ever was, still an usher through my academic and creative life. I’ve written about his importance in my career before, but it was wonderful getting to reconnect with him in person.

The novella manuscript question stems from some news I got at AWP — that a publisher was interested in my novella and had requested the full manuscript. To address the latter part of that: I had submitted a query (which is a bit like a sales pitch, a description of a writing project to gauge a publisher’s interest) and a few sample pages from my manuscript. If a publisher is interested, they’ll ask to read the whole book. It’s a bit like sending in an application and cover letter and then later getting called in for the interview; they’re deciding if they want to “hire” my book.

In class, though, Ruby also asked what a novella itself is and how it’s distinct from, say, a novel. Which is a more complicated answer. I gave the class the run-down, but if you’re looking for that explanation in print, here’s my old blog post about novellas.

From my creative nonfiction course:

I mostly envy the community you seem to have found among writers. How do you meet these people? How do you know everyone? Absolutely phenomenal.

~ Aubrey Jarvis

I spent a lot of time talking to people at the conference about how much I love this community aspect of AWP, this sense that however solitary our normal writing routine and however small and localized our little writing groups are, we are still part of this huge literary world, and AWP helps us remember that once a year. It’s as exhilarating as it is overwhelming, as invigorating as it is exhausting, but it is, to quote Aubrey, “absolutely phenomenal.”

And even in a world where I meet writers every day on social media (the most common greeting at AWP is “I know you on Facebook!”), I still wind up meeting whole gaggles of new writers at AWP. That’s a large part of what AWP is for: discovering new voices, if not in person then at least on the page.

This year, for example, I met for the first time a handful of publishers, several new writers, and the editorial staff of several literary journals. I also connected with new undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where I used to teach, and with new graduate students in the creative writing program at the University of North Texas, where I earned my PhD. Many of these new writing colleagues, of course, I have since friended on Facebook or followed on Twitter. I also swapped books with some of these writers and publishers, so we’ll get to know each other through the written word and (so the intent goes) help promote each other online if we like what we read.

And how amazing it must have been to give your mentor books in which he is acknowledged. That is a dream of mine to do someday.

I also liked that you got to see Bill Roorbach. (I say hi too.) The more I read Writing Life Stories, the more I feel like I have a story in me that has meaning to more people than just me, and the more I feel prepared and confident to do the work, put in the time, and become a great author. I already know I will be using the book for more than just this class, and it is something I will most likely refer to repeatedly over my life and (hopefully) career.

~ Daniel Holsonback

One of my favorite things about engaging with the writing community — at a huge conference like AWP or at a local event like the Terroir Creative Writing Festival (which happens this weekend and, yes, I’m running a session there) or even at a single author’s booksigning — is that you get to meet these people you admire and aspire to become. They serve as role models, sure, but by and large, they also serve as occasional mentors, ushering you into your own writing life even if only a few minutes at a time. (Bill Roorbach is especially good at that; if you haven’t met him in person, you can always follow the writing blog he shares with Dave Gessner — they’re currently celebrating the fifth anniversary of that blog.)

And if things pan out and you do wind up publishing some work down the road, yeah, it’s not just good etiquette but also a thrilling experience to have the opportunity to thank those folks who helped you get there. Writing my acknoledgements was one of my favorite parts of my whole publishing experience. And I still have a lot of people left to thank, so I hope to publish many more books where I can acknowledge them. :)

And finally, rather than end on my own response, I’m going to let a student have the last word, because I love Kianna Johnson’s response to the whole experience of AWP:

I loved the photo on Day 1.2 of the side of the building — covered in all those music notes. I thought I was just trying to distract myself from reading, or writing (music does that to me) but then as I thought about the concept of music and literature it all made a lot more sense. You have to have rhythm when you write and you have to have enough creativity that your words can sing to your reader. My theory (no pun intended) continued to remain relevant as you talked of standing and singing “I” — “We are that ‘I’ song.” Our lives are a reflection of who we are, and if we’re lucky, they’re songs — and it’s incredibly beautiful.

It was great to see you having so much FUN throughout all this “research,” “work,” and “development.” You, hanging out with a bunch of writers across the country but interacting with people just like you — people who understand writing and how to get it out in the world. I feel that we idolize the greats (why wouldn’t we, they’re awesome), but I think it’s important for us to not hold them too far above us. What makes them more capable than we are? With proper guidance, hard work, dedication and positive influence, couldn’t we be great writers too? The answer is yes.

~ Kianna Johnson

New publication

So, I mentioned yesterday that Blue Skirt Productions was one of my favorite tables at AWP. One of the reasons was that they ran a contest for their literary magazine, Microfiction Monday: they provided these 4×4 sticky note and asked folks to submit microfiction that fit on it. Ideally, one hundred words or fewer. And it was a contest, too! The winners would be published in a special APW edition of the online magazine.

Also at the conference, I met Grant Faulkner, founder of the magazine 100 Word Story (and executive director of NaNoWriMo!) and author of a book of 100 100-word stories, Fissures, which I bought. While I was chatting with him, I told him how much I admired the 100-word story and that my shortest story (“Consuela Throws Her TV Away”) was 380 words.

But I figured Microfiction Monday‘s sticky-note challenge was a good excuse to try a 100-word story, so I thought about it for a couple of days and then on the last day of AWP, I slapped my sticky note on the table.

That's my gray sticky note in the middle!

That’s my gray sticky note in the middle!

And gang, I got selected, and today the story, called “The Storm,” is live! And special note for Hagridden fans: eagle-eyed readers might spot how it’s related to my novel! (Another special note: my first attempt at NaNoWriMo was Hagridden. Everything’s connected!)

AWP Minneapolis: the bookfair haul

So, I’m back home in my beloved Portland, and despite having only carry-on bags for my trip, I’ve still managed to bring home quite a haul.


My books

My journals and magazines

My journals and magazines

I also want to give a quick shout-out to a few of my favorite tables in the bookfair. There were loads, but I honestly didn’t get to every table — the bookfair was dizzying — so I can only highlight a few of the coolest of the ones I saw:

  • Blue Skirt Productions, with crayons and music cds and their microfiction contest
  • Driftless Review, with a board of paint-penned workshop one-liners
  • The Common, with a map on which you could label the places where you told your stories (I pinned Cameron, Louisiana, for Hagridden)
  • Broadsided Press, with a very cool set-up of themed micro-broadsides on viewfinder discs(!) and ambient audio on headphones
  • The University of Louisiana-Lafayette graduate program, with the Rougarou literary journal (the staff there now have a copy of Hagridden, since we have the Louisiana bayou and the rougarou in common!)
  • Zoetic Press, where I got a shot glass filled with St. George’s Terroir gin (new to me, but I liked it! good sipping gin to go with their good books)

AWP Minneapolis: Day 4 (part 2)

There’s good news and there’s better news:

Last night’s “reading” wasn’t actually a reading — it was just a final excuse for all us writers to gather and enjoy each other’s company over a few drinks before we all dispersed to our various corners of the country. And that was wonderful. Despite how noisy and crowded the bar was, the whole evening was low-key and friendly and a perfect way to wind down our AWP.

And better still: the company was amazing, and it included a lot of people I’d been hoping to see but hadn’t yet run into! I didn’t get any photos last night, though Meg Tuite filmed a bunch of us, but if you’ll allow me to share some names with you: I was thrilled to meet Mike Joyce and Teri Lee Kline (and her charming husband!) and Doriana Maria Lareau, and we all enjoyed one last chance to utter the most common phrase of AWP, “I know you on Facebook!” And I was delighted to see my friends Gay Degani, Meg Tuite, Robert Vaughan, Bill Yarrow, Len Kuntz, and Karen Stefano — we all had a wonderful time discussing our conference and our various new writing projects and our plans for AWP in LA next year.

Tomorrow, look for one last post: a final recap of my conference as well as — and more importantly — a lengthy list of the writers I met and the books I bought, complete with links to writers’ websites and ways to buy your own books.

And finally, I’ll leave you with Mary Richards as she looked at 4 am on my way to the train this morning, because we all need a little Mary Richards in our lives:


AWP Minneapolis: Day 4 (part 1)

Gang, I’m beat.

But it’s the best kind of beat. You know that sort of exhaustion you feel after a really intense workout where you can’t move but you still want to because the workout felt so good, so immediately beneficial, that you want to do it all over again? I don’t know that feeling — I don’t work out — but I imagine it must feel like this.


It helps that the weather cleared and it was glorious this morning.

Today was supposed to be a lighter day, just a couple of panels and mostly making my last rounds in the bookfair. And it was that, really, but as I started browsing the bookfair I wound up meeting a TON of new people: literary magazines and publishers I’m excited about, magazines and publishers I’d never head of but am thrilled to know about now, and authors I’d been looking for the whole conference but didn’t find until today. In one tour through the bookfair, I ran into Jason Jordan chatting with my sunnyoutside pressmate Tim Horvath, who I followed to the Red Bird Press table, where I bought chapbooks I’ve long wanted by Eirik Gumeny and Matthew Burnside, which reminded me to check in with my own chapbook press’s table, where I found James Brubaker . . . . You get the idea.

(Check back for links to all those authors’ work when I do a roundup post after the conference, because I want you all to buy their stuff but I’m blogging from my phone right now.)

And on my way to and from the bookfair I found Terry Burns, a former colleague from when I taught in Wisconsin; Tamara Linse, a writer I just met this conference, whose book How to Be a Man I’m looking forward to; amd Jesse Lee Kercheval, whose book Building Fiction I always teach from im my workshops and whose memoir Space is beautiful.

My last panel was on building a creative writing community on a community college campus, something I’m involved in now at Chemeketa Community College and and loving. (Student writing club and creative nonfiction class, you are going to love what I bring back from this panel.)

Now, of course, I’m on the other end of the sun’s arc, the day still beautiful but from a different angle. And friends, I am asleep on my feet. Which is not good, because I still have one last reading to go to, and, as last year in Seattle, it’s effectively the last reading of the conference. It starts at 9 p.m. I have no idea when it’s going to end. And I’m catching a plane so early in the morning that I have to leave the hotel before the sun comes up.

So I’m calling this part 1 of day 4, since I have more I can say, especially after this final reading, but there’s no telling when I’ll get around to posting it. Maybe tomorrow from the airport, or maybe the next day, after I’ll have already returned to my college classrooms and begun reporting all this to my students.

So since this is effectively the last live post from the conference, let me just say that I am so, so happy I came this year. It was the first time I wasn’t here supporting a lit magazine or graduate program, or promoting my own book because it had just come out. And I did both those things this time anyway, because I’m loyal to my old grad program at the University of North Texas and the American Literary Review that it publishes, and because I still have two books to promote. But somehow, this year’s conference wound up feeling like the most productive, the most fruitful in terms of the things I’ve learned and the connections I’ve made and the friendships I’ve nurtured and the times that I’ve enjoyed.

Thank you, Minneapolis. And good night.


AWP Minneapolis: Day 3 — goddesses and gurus

Today. Has. Been. EPIC.

My day began with writing exercises and the bookfair and a pretty solid panel on research for creative writing (and a strong shout-out for the indispensable service librarians provide everyone, not just writers and teachers)! And all of that was wonderful.

And then Debra Monroe hugged me.

I was headed to Debra’s panel on the ethics of writing secondary characters in creative nonfiction, but I spotted Debra outside and was delighted to chat with her a bit before the panel. That panel, by the way, was amazing, with a killer talk from Emily Fox Gordon. I learned a lot that I’m eager to share with my students.

Still reeling from that awesomeness, I headed back to the bookfair, where I met a bunch of amazing folks, hung out at the sunnyoutside press table for a while, chatted up my own books, and got some other folks’ books signed (including Excavations by Wendy Ortiz!).


This is maybe one eighth of the bookfair


That's my chapbook up front, left of center.


The Fourth Genre table has kittens!

On Twitter, I’ve been trying to tweet bookfair tables I’ve been to as a way to plug them and direct more traffic their way. Today, for a little meta-on-meta fun, I tweeted a photo of the big AWP Twitter jumbotron in the bookfair, and then I took a photo of my tweet on said jumbotron:


I also did a little writing and sent some work out, because even at a conference, writers write. And then I was off to let Joy Harjo and Lidia Yuknavitch melt my brain with their genius.

And holy shit, did they ever.

They even sat next to each other!


I’ve written before about how and why I love Joy Harjo, and about how deliciously quotable she is. So, not to disappoint, here are a couple of the lines I scribbled in my notebook today:

“The book is a body. It’s an energetic form that has life within it.”

The “colonization” and disempowerment of women “is only this much” — (she held her fingers very close together) — “only this much out of a timeline that is endless, yet we’ve allowed that to take over everything.”

Harjo rocks my world. But the panel wasn’t finished. We ended with Lidia Yuknavitch. And y’all, she brought me to tears.

She started by saying she wasn’t there to give a talk, she was there to recruit us all for an army. Then she got us all to our feet. The whole crowded room, standing in front of our chairs:


And then she made us sing.

She told us to sing the word “I” for as long as she held us, until she told us to stop. And she held us a long time. You remember that Bugs Bunny opera cartoon where Bugs plays conductor and has the tenor hold a note and he leaves his glove in the air forever even when his hand leaves it?


It was like that.

Then she told us: we’re taught that autobiography and memoir is about the author, it’s always about the “I.” But it’s not about our individual “I” — it’s about all our different “I”s together, singing in congress. “We are that ‘I’ song,” she said, and I choked up. Then she said, “Help me write new ‘I’ songs,” and I just about lost it.

It was powerful, and transcendent, and most importantly, it was a call to action. (My creative writing students, today was a game-changer. Brace yourselves.)

Then I headed back to the bookfair so Jenny Drai could sign her new poetry collection for me (I previewed her book a while ago and I’m thrilled to finally have a copy!)


Jenny Drai signing her new book at the Black Lawrence Press table.

I browsed awhile longer and sent some emails and did some more work, and then they shut down the bookfair. As I was being ushered out of the room under the darkened lights, I stumbled across the Zoetic Press and Paper Nautilus Press tables, where I was delighted to find Allie Marini Batts!


And yes, I now have one of her books, too. You should get one.

I also picked up a shot glass from Zoetic Press, and they were kind enough to fill it with a very decent sipping gin.


I drank the gin.

Afterward, I spent the first half of my evening with Press 53 at a wonderful reading full of amazing poets and fiction writers, including Liz Prato (whose new book has just released at AWP) and Bonnie ZoBell and Grant Faulkner (the guy who founded NaNoWriMo!).

The second half of my evening I spent in the company of an old, dear friend, my first college professor, my first college writing mentor, my usher into the writing life, my guru, my friend David Breeden.


And of course, we traded books — I gave him a copy of Box Cutters and of Hagridden, in which acknowledgements he’s listed, and he gave me his latest two poetry books. Then we spent the night eating Indian food and drinking beer and talking about art and writing and religion and history and politics and life and all the things I’ve always enjoyed talking about with him. And he’s still teaching me, and I’m still eager to learn.

And now it’s late. But I’m not yet tired. Because gang, after a day like today, all I want to do is sing:

AWP Minneapolis: Day 2 — panels and panels and panels

Today was the best kind of whirlwind.


I was tired enough from last night that I wasn’t sure I would make it to my first panel at 9 am(!) but registration went fast and I’m damn glad I got to that first panel on writing personal essays in the Internet age. I was already looking forward to it because it involved Anna March, Wendy Ortiz, Ben Tanzer, and Jamie Iredell, all of whom I love and know online but none of whom I’d met in real life until today. And the panel (which also included Megan Stielstra, who was awesome!) was so amazing I wound up taking — no kidding — 15 pages of notes! (My creative writing students, be sure to ask about this one when I get back next week.)


For a first panel, this was amazingly packed!

Even better, I sat with my pal David Atkinson and we were soon joined by my friend and fellow Portland writer Trevor Dodge. So it was a wonderfully friendly way to start my AWP.

Afterward, I stopped in at the bookfair for a bit, hitting the sunnyoutside press table and then crossing the Sea of Literature to find the table for my old lit journal, American Literary Review. There, I met a couple of new PhD candidates, Kim and Bryn, and we chatted about my former professors and the current brilliance of the magazine. They also invited me to an ALR reading in the evening, which is where I am now as I type this.

I also visited One Story, which is always one of the best booths in the bookfair. They’re doing a superheroine thing this year, and I love it!  


Have I mentioned how awesome Hannah Tinti (on the right) is?

I also ran into Bill Roorbach, whose book Writing Life Stories I’m teaching out of now (nonfiction students, Bill says hi).

But then it was time to return to the panels, starting with a panel on unsympathetic characters, which I was super-psyched about not only because of the subject but also because my hero Tom Franklin was on the panel, and, unsurprisingly, he was my favorite part of the panel. (Some of you have been following me on Twitter, so you’ve already seen my geek-out tweets today.)



I should also point out that Tommy’s panel was beyond standing-room-only, which didn’t surprise me at all — I’ve been a fanboy for Tommy for about 15 years now, ever since his first book.





Then I hustled over to a panel on nurturing a creative life alongside a career in teaching at a two-year college, which (again) I was at as much for my own edification as to support a friend, this time the lovely and überprofessional Brianna Pike.


After that, I raced over to another panel, this one on travel as research for fiction (and poetry) which included both the goddess Beth Ann Fennelly and my seatmate from my flight to Minneapolis, Peter Mountford, and also the fantastically interesting Tiphanie Yanique (whose book I’ve been after for a while now and am extra-eager for now!) and Philip Graham (whose forthcoming novel is postmortal fiction and therefore right up my alley). That, too, was a brilliant panel (students, ask me questions!) and I took loads of notes.

And from there I was headed to a panel my students sent me to, but alas, I got the room number wrong, and as I was trying to find the correct room, I passed the bookfair, and I was already late to my panel, so I just bailed and ducked into bookfair.

And that turned out to be a fabulous decision, because I got to say hi to my chapbook publisher at sunnyoutside press (table 128). And I chatted a while with Aaron Burch at Hobart (folks, buy his book Backswing and subscribe to Hobart!). And I ran into a former colleague and a gang of student editors at Driftless, the lit magazine I helped found with poet Russell Brickey when we lived in Wisconsin!


And I ran into my friends Jessica Standifird and Gayle Towell (whose book Blood Gravity you should definitely buy and read) from Portland’s Blue Skirt Press!



AND I got a request for a full novella manuscript from a publisher I love and respect, right there in the bookfair, exactly like some dream fairytale encounter at AWP.

And then security turned out all the lights and literally chased me from the building, which is when I headed to the ALR reading I’d been invited to, and that was fantastic. I wound up sitting with the current grad students I’d met earlier in the day, Kim and Bryn, as well as a recent graduate, April, all of us fiction writers, and in between poetry and fiction readings, we had long and fascinating conversations about craft and grad school and publishing. It was a wonderful evening, really, and exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for in my AWP evenings, particularly for my first night.

(I’d post pix but the lighting in the bar was low and none of the photos is particularly flattering.)

And! I rode the elevator with a member of the community college caucus, who invited me to the listserve for community college teachers! So that was productive!

I’ve also spent a lot of today tweeting about the conference, and if you’re interested in that, you can follow me on Twitter.

But for now, I’m exhausted, and I have a lot more ahead of me tomorrow, so I’ll sign off for now with this final note: it snowed today. I don’t know how well you can see that from these photos:



But I, for one, was so thrilled to see real winterish weather that I donned my rain jacket and, like a good Portlander, walked the several blocks to tonight’s reading sans umbrella.

And I loved every step of it.


AWP Minneapolis: Day 1.2 — downtown, dinner, and friends

Just a quick note about my first evening in Minneapolis. There was a bit of a saga getting here, with a nearly 2-hour flight delay in Seattle (you might have enjoyed my comments on Facebook or Twitter), but I won’t rehash all that except to say that even with the timing screw-up, Alaska Airlines did right by all us passengers, and I’m grateful for them making the delay not only bearable but even sometimes funny.

The upside of the delay was that by the time I got to my hotel downtown, it was legitimately dinner time, amd better still, my good friend Brianna Pike was nearby and hungry as well. So we went to a cheesy fake-British-pub restaurant (with a really decent menu, actually) and whiled away a couple of hours talking about writing and teaching and our careers in our respective community colleges.

You might remember Brianna Pike from my recent post about her 30/30 Project with Tupelo Press for National Poetry Month. She’s still writing a poem a day, even during the conference, and you can still contribute to the fundraiser and assign her a topic or even receive a signed poem of hers.

After dinner, I met up with my conference roommate, author David Atkinson, whose book Bones Buried in Dirt you should definitely buy and read. We’re both in the middle of new projects, so while we spent some time exploring downtown and finding a cup of coffee, we were mostly eager to sit in the room and work on our respective fiction projects. So here we sit.

In fact, I mostly just wanted to post this so I could share some photos from today — nothing impressive, just a few quick snaps of the area around my hotel — and then get back to work. Because it’s a writers conference, and I ought to be writing.