AWP 18 in Tampa is History. The thing about AWP is there are always expectation, there is always too little time, there are people you are excited to see, and people your are disappointed that did not come or who did and you were unable to meet up with, bones & muscles that ache and moments of serendipity.
I went with a lame knee tat ad been swollen and painful beyond imagination on the Friday before I left Wednesday morning. Monday, I saw my Doctor and she gave me a cortisone shot and a blister pack of steroids to take daily in decreasing order. I survived and per my fitness band, recorded 35,990 steps over the four days. They were not pain free, but tolerable.
When it comes to counting memories, I don't think I will be able to erase the steps, but there will be others that will be good ones.
As for serendipity, the keynote address by George Saunders comes to mind. I was not planning to go to it. It followed a Writers to Writers reception and a last minute decision to go was made and I accompanied one of the mentee alumni from my mentee class to the event and it was both enlightening and humorous. I picked up is novel Lincoln in the Bardo.
I ran into Maryfrances Wagner (from my home town). There was Mary Biddinger from Akron Press (were poetry not only lives but thrives), Diane Zinna who is director of the Writers to Writers program, and Ken Waldman, my mentor. Ken and I did an hour at the W2W booth answering questions from persons interested in the program. I purposely attended an off site reading just to ear Shaindel Beers read,
There were people who I felt like I knew, but actually met for the first time - All three of these are poets I adore - Heather Derr-Smith (we tried to meet up last year in DC but it didn't work), Maggie Smith, who signed her book Good Bones, which I read to my mother on her deathbed, and Rachel Mennies, who is writing some of the most powerful poetry these days. She also happens to be the mommy of a Twitter famous dog (at least among poets and writers).
There were too many to name at the Writer to Writer Reception, but I was able to meet up with Michelle McAdams and Erin Robertson from my mentee session.
Best panel I attended was on Writing Confessional Poetry. Rachel Mennies, Maggie Smith, Jericho Brown, and someone else whose name escapes me were the panel. Honest to God, Brown is crazy funny. I have not seen him in a long time, I recall him being funny, but not to this degree.
As usual the swag was fun. Some of it is Pictured at the top.
Oh, and there was my Sylvia Plath moment.....
April came and went as it does every year. This year I successfully completed a poem draft a day, the result of which is a handful of poems from the 30 written may actually see the light of day. These of course are still mostly in a draft form some have been reworked already. This will hopefully give me some badly needed new material to submit
May is the conclusion of the Writer 2 Writer - 6 module program. It is time to make the best of what I have been able to learn from Ken Waldman, my mentor and the 24 other wonderful mentees that are a part of the Spring 2017 program. In the near future you will hear more about this wonderful program from me.
So today begins the Spring Session of the AWP Writer 2 Writer program. There were nearly 400 applications for this session and a total of 25 mentors and mentees were matched for the program. I was fortunate to be one of those 25. It took applying to 6 sessions so I suppose 6 was my magic number.
I've been paired with poet and musician Ken Waldman who has done this once before. What I've already learned about Ken is that he is all energy. He travels a lot and is non-stop about his art which includes poetry and music. He's not into social media but makes hundreds of contacts the old fashioned way. Person to person.
The program is broken into 6 modules and the start of this first module has me pondering the following questions,
There are also some recommended activities to in and a chance to do some short or long term goal planning for my writing.
Looking forward to learning from Ken.
Saturday evening and I'm resting my tired legs from 4 days of AWP Conference in Washington D.C. Tomorrow, it's back home with new reading material as well as tons of information to process.
Additionally, I was accepted into the AWP Writer 2 Writer Mentoring Program. Above I am standing with Diane Zinna who directs the innovative program that has to be one of the most exciting member services available.
I am matched with a mentor Ken Waldman for the Spring session. There are two sessions each year - and so far about 200 writers have been through the program. I applied for the program 6 different sessions and finally was matched.
On the final day I was able to meet Shaindel Beers, author of two poetry collections and one of my favorite poets. After reading both her books and interacting with her for several years no on social media it was cool to connect.
One of the most fascinating panels I attended was the Manifesto Project. I also picked up a copy of the Manifesto Project published by Akron University Press. I'm sure I will have more to say about this work in the near future.
So, from the Exciting News department, AWP is coming to Kansas City! Okay, it is four years away, but three new future host cities for the AWP annual conference were announced this week and they include my fair city. The 2021 event will be here. God that sounds so far away.
It will be so cheap with no air travel or hotel accommodations needed. My expenses for D.C. next month will be substantial. Still, I'm looking forward to the craziness.
I feel that a very optimistic fall has pushed summer aside. I can see the fall colors coming. Anticipation is high.
Fall ball has pushed aside the regular season as well. We are now into the playoffs and with that comes the elimination of some teams that fall away like those fragile bright leaves.
Things too get a little crazy and spooky and sticky sweet. Do grown ups still plunder the kids trick-or-treat bag for the good stuff?
What I'm not looking forward to is the mania that often comes with the holidays. Perhaps this year my holiday gift will be material for better poems. I hope my muse is reading this.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings