I think I’m in AWP-withdrawal, which I wasn’t expecting. Let’s hammer out the last day in Denver.
Well, it started slow for just about everyone I know thanks to the drinking and altitude and lack of sleep. I think the altitude was blamed for a lot of behavior beyond the altitude sickness some people experienced…what will we blame when we’re back at sea level!? It was cold out Saturday, so I ditched my plan to explore Denver and got a chai tea latte and wandered over to the book fair where I sat with Billy Merrill for a while at the Academy of American Poets table. I made some targeted hits to get books I wanted, such as that Tiresias: The Collected Poems of Leland Hickman book I mentioned. And on my return trip from the Nightboat Books table I finally ran into Charlie Jensen! (And found myself a little tongue-tied!)
I met up with Saeed and we wandered the fair and I bought MORE books: Jennine Capo Crucet’s How to Leave Hialeah from which she read at the WILLA event (and her reading was a nice tonal breath of fresh air, like a sunbeam break in the clouds during that set); fellow UM alum Amy Quan Barry’s Asylum and Controvertibles; Edwin Torres’s In the Function of External Circumstances; the Persistent Voices anthology, and the My Diva anthology.
We then resumed our “spot” outside the fair and soon added Randall Mann and Susan Steinberg to our little, tired, hungover group. We people-watched, in particular the non-AWP folk arriving for the auto show, and had a segueway sighting as a man wheeled around the corner and into the book fair. D.A. Powell stopped by and we decided to all go to lunch at WaterCourse, a vegetarian restaurant with yummy food and yummy waiters. And Doug gave me a copy of the first issue of the new journal he oversees, L0-Ball.
Here’s a pre-lunch pic of Randy and Doug:
And Saeed and Susan:
Saeed had to run to get to his panel on time, so after we finished lunch, Randy and I ducked into the end of the “Persistent Voices” reading and delivered Saeed his food. I thought there would be more people at the reading and was surprised at the small group gathered in such a large room.
I don’t recall much of the rest of that afternoon. More bookfair wandering and sitting about chatting with people. Caught up with Graeme Bezanson, co-worker of mine at the day job (who I just saw walk by and we gave a collective thumbs-down on being back at work). While I was grabbing the copy of Bloom with the red cover and wrestlers (hot!) I heard a voice ask “Are you the real Matthew Hittinger?” I turned and it was Shaindel Beers who wanted to make sure it was me and not a model hired to impersonate me. She was interested in a copy of Pear Slip, so I walked her over to the Spire Table to sign one for her and it turned into an impromptu book signging. Met Liz Ahl who was chatting with Damian Dressick, one of Spire’s new authors whose book Fables of the Deconstruction is forthcoming (click to check out the cover!) and found out from Shelly that they sold A LOT of copies of Pear Slip this year, which is great news. I had a handful of strangers recognize me from the author photo and tell me they bought a copy, which is the type of news any writer loves to hear, especially when it’s unexpected. I think I’m going to take Liz’s advice and make a shadow box of the front and back covers of Pear Slip (if you take two copies of the book, the back and front covers line-up to form a complete picture of that pear).
Had an early dinner with Christian, Saeed and Patrick. Yummy burgers. And a fun waitress. Took a post-dinner nap. Caught up with Jaswinder Bolina at the Hyatt bar. Then dancing. All these years I’ve been coming to AWP and I’ve never gone to the late night dancing. It starts off awkward. But once those of us with rhythm get out there it gets fun. Formed a circle with Christian, Saeed and Patrick and danced with lots of people, including Marie-Elizabeth Mali, Patricia Smith, and Cyrus Cassells. A bunch of them went off to a gay club in Denver, but I called it a night (part of me wishes I had gone now…though I’m sure my thighs are thankful I didn’t…)
Here’s Patrick, Saeed, me and Christian pre-dancing:
And I couldn’t leave without taking a picture of that big blue bear attacking the convention center!
Sunday there were so many of us heading to the airport that I couldn’t get on a shuttle until my third attempt. Then the crazy long security line. But once I got to my gate I found a little NYC poetry contingent there including Billy Merrill, Stephen Motika, and Ryan Murphy. Fun being on a plane with people you know.
So that’s this year’s AWP. I’m writing this Monday morning and am exhausted so I’m sure I’m missing more interesting details and gossip and whatnot. I’ll end by saying this was my favorite AWP so far, not so much because of the conference itself (actually very little to do with the conference) but because of the wonderful people I met this year and the advice/reaffirmation about what to do next with my manuscript. It was fun to meet just about everyone I’ve “met” in facebook land, in person (except you Daniel Casey!). It’s weird when you reach your 30s and find that most new friends you make are co-workers with whom you may or may not have much in common. I forgot that giddy feeling of making new friends where there is a shared bond and connection. I think that’s why I’m having that withdrawal feeling this morning, missing the new friends, wanting to hang out more. All I’m saying is I’m not waiting until D.C. to see them all again.
I forgot to take a picture of the demon horse at the airport, so I’m stealing this from the web, and leaving this as your last image:
Til next time!