GROUND ZERO: AWP 2008
Well, old home week has commenced. I missed my first session because Mary Ann Cain and were kibbitzing on our MFA experiences for two hours. We had a great time. Then I met Anna Leahy at the book fair (more on the BF later), got her new book of poetry, Constituents of Matter, got her to sign it and rushed off to the session on Key Developments in Creative Writing Research.
Unfortunately, I missed Graeme Harper’s presentation, and only made it through the second before I had to leave because it felt like 115 degrees in the room. My cheeks were burning even though I was fanning myself like crazy. I hated to leave before it was over but it was that or pass out. Could have been my first hot flash but I doubt it. I “like” to think I’m still a little young for that.
The next session, on the difference between the UK MA and the US MFA, was quite good (and considerably cooler). I learned quite a bit, which is saying something since I’ve been researching the subject for some time.
Saw Galway Kinnell after that, but, sadly, the room was huge and it was a little like watching a rock star from the nose bleeds. At least I could munch my lunch–roasted chestnuts and a dunkin donuts coffee (heaven!) in anonymity.
Then, the book fair, the BEST PART, for two reasons. One, it is HUGE this year; it literally takes up three floors. I haven’t even seen it all yet and I already have lots of good stuff. Two, I ran into my dear friend from George Mason days, Adrian Lurssen! I haven’t seen him in 11 years, since I attended his wedding!! I’ve been following him via the web, since his time as tastemaker for Yahoo (the place to be after their stock soared), his “retirement” and his launch of a new literary magazine with Susan Tichy, Practice: New Writing + Art (I’m bringing you home some copies, Monda), but it was oh so good to see him in person. He is still generous with the bear hugs! Hopefully, we’ll find some time to get together and catch up in the next few days! Of course, he asked about Chris Motto and wondered if she was here too.
After dashing back to the room, I learned three good friends from our Lafayette days, Jim and Tamara Wilson and Kelly Stern, were here as well and looking to have dinner. We quickly ran to the Bedford St. Martin’s reception to fete Heather Sellers’ new multi-genre creative writing textbook, where I probably gushed too much both literally and figuratively, accidentally spilling wine (white, Thank God!) on a fiction writer from Vanderbilt. Fortunately, it only hit her shoe. I think I was just hepped up from the stimulation of running into all these old friends.
Anyway, after that, we got to meet Jim, Tamara and Kelly for dinner and catch up on their lives. Jim and Tamara teach at Flagler College in St. Augustine; Kelly is a free-lance children’s book editor in Toronto. They all looked great.
Phew. Another exhausting day. I’m getting some great goodies for the giveaway, though (you can keep posting to enter through Feb. 4). Next post, I’ll give you some specifics about what I’ve got and announce the 2008 Best Giveaway of the Conference Award (IMHO and, yes, Gettysburg Review is on the shortlist again).