Monday, February 4, 2008

After AWP

I have now attended my first AWP Conference. My spouse drove me in Wednesday afternoon and deposited me at the Hilton Hotel where I would spend an absurd amount of money for a rather small room, nice but smallish. That night I had a BLT for dinner—$17.50! Then I discovered that the hotel charges $15 per day for use of their wireless. That was another first. That's usually an amenity that comes with the room rate. But I had my new laptop with me and was determined to put it to use.

The next day I reported for duty at the book table my publisher, Wind Publications, was sharing with Steel Toe Books. Tom Hunley, the Steel Toe publisher as well as a Wind poet, had the table already set up. Our location was a nice corner spot, but on the second floor of the Bookfair. As that area required one to go up an escalator and there was no sign indicating the second level, there was much less traffic in that area. I sold a decent number of books, but I heard a lot of grousing about diminished sales this year in spite of the dramatic increase in the number of registrants. My guess is that with the exorbitant hotel costs people were less inclined to shell out for books.

Tom Hunley at the Steel Toe Books / Wind Publications Table

Wind Poets Ann Fisher-Wirth, Diane Lockward, and JC Todd

This act of subversion appeared on Friday, right across from our table.

Because I was covering the table for my publisher who couldn't come, I only went to three panels. I went to the Frost Place reading which was good, and I saw a number of familiar faces from the days when I used to go to the summer conference in New Hampshire.

David Graham and me. I know David from the Frost Place. He's also on the Wompo listserv. He's a Man-po.

I also went to the Sarah Lawrence reading. Each of the 5 or 6 panelists (can't remember which) read three poems by a dead poet, three by a former teacher, and three of his or her own. That sounds like a good plan, but it boggled my mind. Too many poets and poems to keep track of anything. I left not remembering anything I'd heard. One really unfortunate part of this reading was the incessant intrusion of the fire alarm. First we had about five warnings that an alarm had been sounded and was being investigated (alarm followed by announcement each time). Then we had about five notices that the alarm had been investigated and determined to be false. This nonsense pretty well sabotaged the reading.

My favorite event was the Wompo panel Friday morning. This was a celebration of the just-released Wompo anthology, Letters to the World, which contains over 200 poems by members of the Wompo listserv. It was an amazing and time-consuming and international endeavor. The result is a gorgeous anthology. The panelists were all involved in the creation of the anthology. Each detailed her role and some of the challenges, and each read one poem from the anthology. After the presentation we all stood in a circle and gave our names and said where we live. I've been on the listserv since 1999 and really enjoyed putting faces to names. I'll have more to say about this anthology after I get a chance to read through it.

Wompos Lois Roma-Deely, list owner Annie Finch, and Penny Harter. Annie is holding the anthology.

Kate Gale, the publisher of Red Hen Books which published the anthology. Photo taken at the Bowery Poetry Club Saturday night.

I saw lots of people I knew from various places and had lunch with old and new friends. Because the hotel was so huge and involved a lot of walking to get from one place to another, I stayed close for meals. A friend took a group of us to the deli right across the street, a fantastic place with dozens of hot dishes in large trays set into steam tables. You just help yourself and then your food is weighed. No difference between mac and cheese or salmon. This place has to be one of the best bargains in NY. I wanted to get to the Soup Nazi's but never made it.

Back to reality tomorrow—jury duty.


  1. Diane,

    Thanks for this update. I wasn't there, so I enjoy reading all the recaps.

  2. It was so lovely meeting you, Diane! Thank you for helping to sell my book.

  3. Great summary, Diane! Sorry you didn't get to too many of the panels. It was great seeing you!

  4. Kelli--I wish you'd been there as I'd love to meet you f2f.
    Mary--A pleasure to meet you and if I helped sell your books, that would make me very happy, but I think they sold themselves.
    Amy--Be sure to let me know when your new book is out.


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