Maybe it's because I was an AWP virgin before last week...maybe because I was sort of entranced by the idea of being in a huge group of people who (ostensibly) love writing and ideas and books...maybe because I had a week off...but I had a great time. I got to see expected friends, ran into a favorite friend from my grad school days totally unexpectedly, and got to meet people I only knew virtually--all of whom were gracious and sweet. All in all, win win win.
Saw a brand-name poet in the Hilton Lobby my first night there and didn't throw up in my mouth, even a little.
There is nothing more startling than hearing your name shouted in the book fair, in a city hundreds of miles from your home, at 9 am on the first full day of the conference. In this case it was delightful. My friend Amy, whom I'd lost touch with ages ago was there. She's as sharp and funny as ever.
The Lynda Hull tribute was really beautiful. It ended with a video of her reading "Window" sometime in 1994. It's my favorite poem of hers and I started crying in the middle of it. Totally hooked me.
If anyone ever offers you a drink of a chinese liquor that's described as a "cross between rye and vodka," turn it down. Go for a Brooklyn Lager instead.
Francine Prose is fierce in person, I regret not making it to see her read.
The Pitt Reading was a blast...take that for what it's worth, since I'm biased. But Aaron and Jan Beatty were excellent.
I bought way too many books and lit mags.
Saw Gerald Stern wandering purposefully through the bookfair Sat. morning with a cell phone to his ear. This made me unutterably happy.
The Post-Identity Politics panel was a lot of fun, in no small part due to RS's shouting an obscenity.
Chase Twichell rocks my socks. Ditto for David Wojahn. I think I love them more for having heard them speak on their respective panels.
Best signage in NYC: at the deli across the street from the Hilton, a neon sign reading TOSSED SALAD (the BAR being unilluminated.) The banner for PUMPGIRL. Aaron got a picture of this. A close third is the deli sign for Fish Platters that we passed after lunch.
The only downside was developing a cold Saturday morning. No, really. That was it.