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.

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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.

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