AWP 2016: a guide (of sorts)

Every year, writers and publishers put out all manner of guides to AWP: panel guides, readings guides, bookfair guides, etiquette guides, bar guides, survival guides . . . .

I’m not going to chime in much, because there are plenty of other guides for you to choose from. But I will share a few things on my online radar as I head into next week.

The first is Entropy’s perennial guide, though it’s really just a list of panels, offsite events, and bookfair happenings they think are going to be cool. I’m a fan of Entropy, and I generally agree with their sensibilities — the events on their list are going to be cool — so check out their post here.

Of course, I’m using AWP’s app to keep track of my own schedule, so I could pull an Entropy myself and share my list with you here. But it’s a L O N G list, with a lot of double- or triple- or even quadruple-booked time slots (Saturday at 9 a.m. I have four different panels I absolutely have to be at, so either I’m going to master Hermione’s time-turner by this weekend or I’m going to have to make some tough choices!), so there’s not much use in sharing my mess of a schedule. And besides, a lot of my schedule duplicates Entropy’s anyway, so feel free to check theirs instead.

And you’ll want some help narrowing down your own list, because seriously, the conference is massive this year. Today in class, I told my students there were hundreds of events at this thing; I just checked the schedule, and I actually underestimated! I’m seeing roughly 640 panels, 155 offsite readings (plus another five that are technically before the conference begins and yet another five after conference ends!), and more than 700 book signings in the bookfair. (I’m glad I counted, too, because I spotted a couple of authors signing books I’d missed my first run-through of the list!)

There’s also a slew of events listed on Facebook, some of them unofficial and therefore not on anyone’s schedule. I have two series of book signings I’m eying: the string of book signings at the Press 53 table, and the booth-hopping Joe Wilkins (who works just down the road from my community college in McMinnville, OR — he teaches at Linfield College); Joe is going to be signing at four different tables on Friday, April 1:

  • 12:00-12:30 pm: Counterpoint Press, table #201 (The Mountain and the Fathers)
  • 1:00-2:00 pm: University of Arkansas Press, table #1033 (When We Were Birds)
  • 2:00-3:00 pm: Story Catcher Writing Workshop & Festival, table #1945 (all his books, presumably including his Red Bird Chapbooks poetry collection — we’re going to be pressmates! — and his Iron Horse chapbook)
  • 3:00-4:00 pm: Black Lawrence Press, table #1526 (Far Enough and Killing the Murnion Dogs)

942160_10154149135317845_2548934003956715852_nI also have a few nonlisted readings I’m planning to attend, including the ¡AWP Small Press Reading!, the Books & Booze reading that includes the generous and beautiful Ben Tanzer, the Autres Lettres Vol. 1 Release Party (which, I hear, is the only place besides the FC2 reading that you’ll get to see the inimitable Luke B. Goebel at AWP!), the special AWP-LA edition of Portland’s own Unchaste Readers series organized by lit-feminist goddess Jenny Forrester, and several others that I expect to find friends at. (Seriously, there are so many I can’t possibly list them all.)

(There’s also a reading I’m participating in, but it’s by invitation only, so you’ll have to watch for a write-up and photos later.)

Also, for anyone who’s interested, The Writer’s Hotel is offering free manuscript consultations and an agent “speed dating” event at booth #1037 in the bookfair.

And just a reminder: I’ll be at the Blue Skirt Productions table (#657) and the Literary Arts booth (#1639) from time to time, which are good places to find my books (and yes, I’ll have a Square reader for folks who aren’t carrying cash). Portland author Kate Ristau also has invited me to hang out with some of the Willamette Writers crowd at the Timberline Review table (#106), which I was going to do anyway because they’re sharing space with Portland’s Future Tense Books (have I told you lately about their new book by Monica Drake?), so expect to find me there, too!

All of which is to say, I can’t really offer you much of a “guide” to AWP because we’re spoiled for choice this year, and you’re bound to have a great time whatever you do. So really, my only other suggestion is this:

Stay hydrated, and get some rest. Seriously — I know the panels and readings and signings and events can carry on from breakfast til long after midnight, and practically everything involves drinking of some sort, but you don’t have to do (or drink) everything, and you’ll enjoy what you do get to a lot more if you’re actually awake for it. So be kind to yourself.

And I’ll see everyone in Los Angeles!

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