I returned last night from AWP 2009-Chicago. It was a blast and jam-packed. Even if I had intended to blog from Chicago, which I did not, I don't think I would have succeeded. Too much other stuff to see, do, and enjoy. So my plan is to recap the event over the next few days and maybe share a few bits of information I picked up along the way.
I flew up to Chicago on Wednesday. I'd chosen early flights because the last two times I've gone to Chicago I experienced significant delays. This time, though, everything went smoothly and I arrived at O'Hare before noon. Which meant that I had the whole afternoon to spend before meeting my friends. So I visited the Art Institute of Chicago, which I hadn't been to in several years. I spent most of my time with the Impressionists but also enjoyed earlier work by Americans, later work by Mexicans, plus a mix of old and new in the Asian collection. I also visited the exhibit of photography by Yousof Karsh, which I enjoyed very much.
After that I went down Michigan Avenue to the conference hotel and registered, picking up the program, which this year is an astounding 340 pages long. I retreated to a coffee shop to study the thing and eventually made it to the rendezvous point with Dan Wickett's Emerging Writers Network. The gathering wasn't as big as it has been in past years, but that's okay. It was fun to meet a few people I've known only online, and to catch up with some old friends. I imagine Dan will also be writing about the events of the last week, so check out EWN for more details.
Several of us then landed at Sheffields, a bar on the North Side, to listen to some short readings by lots of folks, some known and some new to me: Kyle Minor, Matt Bell, Donna Vitucci, Amy Guth, and others. This was actually part of the established Reading Under the Influence series, so you can visit their website for the complete lineup. That was fun and a good way to end Day 1.