Usually, this is where I would regale you with tales of torporific panels led by respected authors, new writerly techniques learned, rockstar-studded reading events, and sweaty hands shook. This recap will contain none of those. Okay, very few of those.
AWP is a yearly conference for writers, publishers, and writing programs. I’ve written about it before. Ten thousand literati descend upon some unsuspecting city, touting their wares and knit caps (my inbound flight featured a redolence of patchouli and a dearth of cosmetics), hungry to discover forbidden knowledge that’ll land them an agent or faculty position. Difference being, this year, I—and most of my peers—forewent the conference proper. We were there just for the hang, having burned ourselves out on its formalities in years past. Lodging next to the conference, we benefited from a contact buzz, and planned for many off-site hybrid events. Instead, we mostly kept our own company, while inviting along a few of our favorite, more-dedicated attendees.
When I say “we,” I refer to the ManArchy magazine staff. We come from various factions and intersecting circles, but ManArchy’s the one that unites most of us these days. That group includes folks from Booked. podcast, Perfect Edge Books, and LitReactor, among many. We enjoy one another’s company in more than just a professional capacity; we’re those people you find at the party congregated out on the patio deciding the fates of nations. AWP’s social opportunities were more appealing to us than its academic or creative ones. At least this year.
One official event did manage to transpire on our watch, which was a joint reading by authors from Perfect Edge and Lazy Fascist presses, held at an upscale poster gallery wary of such a hedonistic presence. I was enlisted as a last-minute emcee, and Caleb J Ross live-streamed its video to shut-ins worldwide. Booked’s audio recordings will be shared during their next few episodes. UPDATE: Part One | Part Two
The only other official haps was the free-to-the-public bookfair, whose entirety I walked while stopping only at a handful of tables to buy from and commiserate with such authors as Rob Roberge, Matt Bell, and Cameron Pierce. After all that indoor lone-wolf hiking (my peeps bailed early), I got lost for an extra two miles of downtown wandering.
I always joke that I’m excited to try chain restaurants in other time zones, and the area near the Prudential Center provided plenty such opportunities, whether it was The Cheesecake Factory, Coldstone Creamery, Five Napkin Burger, or Pinkberry. It felt like home. (Where’s that damned sarcasm font?) Our first night in town, we proceeded to get wicked shit-hammered in a tavern called Bukowski’s, but much of the off hours were spent lazing and blazing (okay, maybe hazing) in a hotel suite we rented to serve as the group’s social hub, often punctuated by the shushings that failed to repel the noise police before their multiple interventions. Also, the two feet of snow I thought I’d left at home in Kansas City followed me to Boston, making for some nasty excursions, limited as they were.
Highlight of the trip? The collected tweets of so many of our random utterances. I also got to meet people from as far away as The Netherlands, for better or worse.