AWP-Boston 2013


Hello my loves!
**Warning, this post is being written in the midst of insomnia induced mania, This will probably not sound smart or make sense.**
So I am finally getting to the AWP review (one of many, and they are all great). I would have done it sooner but it’s been a rough week. This isn’t going to be like last year’s post on AWP. I do not want to do a day by day rundown. Just some brief observations, some photos and hopefully the start of a conversation.

To start with, I must be a freaking idiot to keep planning flights at 7 AM that require me to be up at 4 AM. Thank god that next year AWP is in Seattle and therefore shorter flights and no time change. I don’t remember how many panels I went to last year but this year I only went to three and walked out of two others (does that count as five or three and a half?). The three I went to however were amazing. More on that later.
The book fair was freaking huge! Two floors of a convention hall wing. This is where I spent most of my time. I think I was able to make better use of my time here and have better conversations (when I wasn’t spazzing out on people that is.) then at last year’s AWP. Here are some finds from the floor:
I loved being at my school’s booth, talking to people about the journal, Lunch Ticket and encouraging them to submit. Made me feel a little more legitimate in the writing world.
Hmm any other odd thing before I talk about panels? Yes! The snow! I have never seen snow before in my life (having not ventured out of Los Angeles all too much) and I was fascinated and terrified at the same time. How do people live in that on a regular basis? I had to ask Dan Bellm (amazing poet/translator) what the hell these blue things were. I got the look that to me said “Oh honey” and was patiently explained to that they were salt pellets. I could’ve had a V8.
Salt Pellets, duh Ashley!

Also my school sponsored a reading and they were all great. I’ve heard my friend Peter Nichols read at school before and was happy to hear him again. The poet, Elaina Ellis was fantastic. I finally got to hear my friend, Daniel Jose Older read from his collection (scary and ethereal at the same time). The best surprise for me was Seth Fisher. I have talked to him a few times, mostly at the booth or school related business but to hear him read was amazing. He is a very talented guy and one of the nicest ones too. 
Antioch Reading
Elaina Ellis
Seth Fischer
Peter Nichols
Daniel Jose Older
What else? Oh yea, I got to see Rob Roberge on the book fair floor and I picked up his new book, “The Cost of Living”. It is fucking mind blowing! Review to come soon on that and it is always fun talking to him. (I totally asked him to draw in the book and he did! I may have the first dancing stick figure autograph in history. Score!). So yea, go buy his book and read it!
So the panels. I went to one called “Cross-Genre Crushes”. This should be self-explanatory on what it was about. The influence of one genre on another. I don’t have notes and I can’t quote verbatim but it spoke so much to what the point of this blog is (or trying to be.) Alan Heathcock was on the panel and that was the second biggest reason why I went. I read his short story take inspiration from each other as well as music, visual art etc.  At one point, an audience member asked about exercises to do to inspire and I love what Alan said. Again not verbatim but essentially stare at a painting and write that painting. Write what is going on in the painting as well as what the essence of the painting is. Gives you chills to think about it right? Inspiration is everywhere for any type of artist. So go out, create and put it out in the world to inspire others.
Cross-Genre Crushes
Next panel was Post-Genre Lit. It had a similar feel to the Cross Genre panel, which means it was good as well. Stephen Elliott from The Rumpus (.net) was on the panel and was awesome. By the way, if you don’t subscribe to his daily emails, I would recommend it. Good panel but cant remember what it is right now I wanted to say (not good to blog without notes kiddies). The big thing was the last panel I went to.
The last panel was called “Art vs. Commerce: Writing for Love and Money”. Sound intense? It pretty much was. Stephen Elliott was on this panel too as well as Steve Almond (also on The Rumpus) and the topic was pretty hot button. The point of this panel (in my head) was to discuss what comes first for a writer, the art or the commerce, and how much does one sacrifice for the other?
I work a day to day job and write when I go home. This topic does not necessarily affect me yet. I know I’m a young writer and I have not had to be put in the position of choosing to do things for money that compromise my art (other than having to work a regular job instead of writing all day). I thought it was a good panel but little by little, I started to get irritated. Why was this even a question? Art comes first! Always! You do what you have to do to get by in the day to day living but that should never question your motivation for what you’re doing in your writing. Here I am going to paste a section of one of Stephen Elliott’s daily emails (hope that’s allowed, if not let me know!). It summed up a lot of what I felt:
**”Last night I met Maud Newton on the train. Actually crossing the street toward the Starbucks. Actually, we were on a panel together before that. But it was all random. The panel was about art and commerce. I wrote in my notebook before the panel, Don’t be argumentative. In order to avoid being argumentative I doodle in my notebook and make squares around sentences. The squares say, It was never a good idea. Nobody will pay you to write your first book. I don’t see the link between art and commerce. Unless you’re talking about the art of commerce.
I chose the third square. I don’t see the link between art and commerce. Steve Almond was on the panel and he was talking about writing for Martha Stewart and dancing naked full of vim and madness. People were talking about writing for money. I said, Look, you can bartend, or you can teach classes, or you can write shit you don’t want to write for publications you don’t want to write for. You can be a secretary, or a hooker, or a lawyer. That’s all Column A. In Column B there’s making art. There’s painting, dancing, writing poetry. In Column B there are things you don’t do for money. You don’t know why you do them at all. That can include starting a website, or sending out a daily email. Later, when you’re finished, you try to get as much money as you can. How much you sell it for is not the point. The point is, Why did you do it.
I said something like, You think you’re talking about the same thing but you’re not. You’re talking about two different things. When artists talk about money it’s like throwing boiling water from the balcony in Siberia during a cold snap.”**
Courtesy of The Rumpus!
I also wanted to paste a section he did in a different email that talked about the aftermath of this panel but can’t find it. Drats! So in essence, write! Make love and art and be happy and carry on the mundane stuff however you need to. I guess another point of this panel is how can we make money from our art to support ourselves in life but again, I don’t think I am in a position to talk about that one. There was a third Steven on the panel, can’t find my notes for his last name but that made for an interesting time when it came to questions. Steve Almond was freaking hilarious and Stephen Elliott is just intense. I would love to keep going on this one, so comment, email, tweet, whatever.
So aside from that, I made some bad impressions on people, danced a bit, became part of a poem and didn’t sleep or eat much. On my way back from Boston, I was in the terminal and who sits down two seats from me but Alan Heathcock. I wanted to talk to him but I don’t think that would have been wise considering I looked like something pulled up from a drain. I do have to say though, that man is one snappy dresser.
Coming up soon, another short story post and two book reviews. Maybe also a poem thingy I wrote this morning.
Adios my loves!
Ashley
PS- I still need to interview people! Send me ideas or volunteer! Also working on revamping this blog into a site where the layout is better. Now to face plant into my desk.
Shit my punctuation on this sucks but it’s going up anyway.
More Pictures:
Jamie Moore and I. We are tired.
Boots on a Ladder!
Lunch Ticket Editorial Staff
At the Red Hen Press booth
Drop Kick Murphys
Poetry Board
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