The Hermit Poet

February 5, 2008

Post AWP Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:39 pm

I must say, I am quite taken by New York — although I only glimpsed the smallest fraction of what it must be like to live there, I was more than impressed.  It’s not just the ease and inexpensiveness of the buses, subways, and taxis –it’s the way that the city feels like one built for pedestrians.  In our after hours forays into the city to catch off-site readings, grab food to eat, or just chill in a tucked-away pub with writer friends, we walked for the most part from one destination to another — a welcome change for navigating the sprawl of LA  on overcrowded streets.

With regard to the conference itself, some key points and notes:

  • I stayed in the book fair for almost the entire conference, manning the Boxcar Poetry Review table.  This wasn’t a bad thing actually — I really enjoyed meeting our past contributors, introducing the journal to new people, and discussing business and project ideas with other journals on my floor.
  • Speaking of floors, the book fair spanned three floors which I suspect hurt table and booth traffic substantially.  We were located on the third floor of the Hilton and saw a good deal of traffic, but nothing compared to the first floor.
  • Our table neighbors were Hobart ( and Juked (   Both staffed by really cool people.  Hobart is really a slick looking fiction/non-fiction journal, with amazing book design work.  They also decked out their table differently on each day (day 1- My Little Pony, day 2-Star Wars w/Darth Vader masks, day 3-High School Musical posters and table cloth).  They also brought in Jesus party paraphernalia (fans, candies, bouncy balls) purchased at a party store.
  • I did slip away for the Kundiman Panel which featured readings from Tamiko Beyer, David Mura, Jon Pineda, Oliver de la Paz, Purvi Shah, and Sarah Gambito.  It was great to hear them read again and wonderful to reunite with all my other Kundiman friends who were there.  I also met Lee Herrick in person for the first time –who turns out to be just as pleasant and delightful in real life as he is in his blog.
  • My evenings were spent hanging out with Kundi-folk, doing some AWP events and some random gathering events.
  • I caught the Li-Young Lee and Jennifer Kwon-Dobbs reading at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (both were fantastic).  The poems were great, the conversation in the Q&A had a number of high points — Jennifer’s discussion of the Korean adoptee experience  and Li-Young Lee’s comments on contemporary  poets tendency to confuse the “me” and the “I” (for Lee, the “me” is focused on the self alone, the “I” speaks outward with a greater lyrical force and in many ways can only exist in the presence of a “Thou”).
  • Also caught the NYU Asian Pacific Islander Institute’s reading with Joseph Legaspi, Jon Pineda, Jennifer Kwon-Dobbs, Jennifer Chang, Lisa Chen, Rick Barot, and Oliver de la Paz.  Good reading with great food!  Such readings demonstrate to me again the great diversity of voice and approach to be found among Asian American poets.
  • Did a little PR work for USC and passed out some brochures for the program.
  • Ran into most of the usual blogging suspects:  Paul, Charles,  C. Dale, Reb Livingston, etc
  • Met with Anhinga Press and started the conversations about book covers and blurbs. I’ve decided that my blurbs will not come from previous professors, but from poets with whom I do not already have a strong professional connection (it just seems more productive and credible to do it this way).  I already have a great blurb from the judge, C.G. Hanzlicek, so I only need two more.  I’ve asked and have a commitment from one poet I admire and am in the process of contacting another one.  I have a third option who I may ask as a backup.   Not all blurbs need to go on the book either– I can use some for the Amazon book page and/or for my own website.
  • I’ll be starting a series of posts on things to do after the book has been picked up and before it’s out.

Hope everyone else has traveled back in safety.  I’m looking forward to Chicago next year and promise to be even better prepared.

Today I’m heading over to my old school, UC Riverside to catch the Writers’ Week readings — it’s poetry day today and Paisley Rekdal, Richard Shelton, and Ed Ochester are reading. It’ll also be good to catch up with my old professors and the few remaining grad students I know in the program.

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