(Best conference bag ever: nice, roomy-yet-flat outside pocket for keeping the handy conference planner at your fingertips)

Amazing and overwhelming, all at once. The latter even more than usual, I’m not sure why. Maybe because I got added to a third panel at the last minute, and with 3 panels, a focus group with Bedford St. Martins (that was amazing!), a friend’s book launch, a meeting with my dear friend Mimi Thebo, lunches and dinners with old friends and former students, as well as my birthday, my head was just spinning. In a good way. I suppose.

So the third panel, about reinventing the workshop–I got invited to replace another panelist at the last minute and Charles Baxter was the headliner. Since that’s the only chance I’ll ever have to sit on the same stage as one of my idols (obviously gushing doesn’t embarrass me) I wasn’t going to turn that one down.

Oh, and his talk about the workshop, his paper, was so good, so smart, so lovely, so him. No one else could have written or spoken it. Every time I listen to him read or speak, I wonder, does an unconsidered thought ever come out of his mouth? Ever?

The other panelists were quite good as well, especially those who had been his students. No surprise there, of course.

The panel ran during the very last session on the very last day of the conference (Saturday) and he still filled a decent-sized ballroom. That tells you all you need to know.

Some notes I made. . .

The landscape our students are entering is quite different, there is an urgency to teaching them to make sense of digital media. (From Crossing the Digital Divide)

Sandra Cisneros: “I believe in workshops I just I don’t believe in the academic workshops I believe in the alternative workshop, the community workshop-that’s what we can do for each other—writing is like cutting your own hair there’s only such much you can do before you have to cut the back -the workshop helps you with the back.” (From the We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love and Literature at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop panel)

If you’re going to piss people off, you should do it on purpose. (Also from We Wanted to Be Writers)

In the pissing people off category, we learned that AWP is cancelling the Pedagogy Forums for future years, in favor of including more pedagogy in the general panels. Not sure how I feel about this. The Pedagogy Forums open the conference to a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise be funded to go, and they provide a valuable exchange of ideas. Cancelling them completely seems a little extreme. Compromise, anyone?

There were beaucoup babies this year, many more than in the past, which was kind of inspiring, the idea that this might really be becoming a family friendly event. Given my penchant for the pint sized set, I started taking pictures (with their parent’s permission, of course). So the next post will be AWP 2011: Conference Babies.

Stay tuned, y’all,


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