Thursday, February 19, 2009

AWP Recap No. 4

There was snow Friday night, so we had that to deal with on Saturday, but not much. Just enough to make the scenery on the drive downtown (thanks, Stan!) especially beautiful.

The first session we went to was "Writing the Dispatch: Inspiration on the Installment Plan" featuring several writers who have appeared regularly on McSweeney's Internet Tendency, including Roy Kesey, Philip Graham, John Griswold, Rob Jacklosky, Holly Jones, and editor John Warner. This was way funnier than I expected it to be, but all of the panelists gave great presentations about how they approached their assignments and the challenges they faced. Roy's, at least, should be a separate feature on the website, since it took a funny but literary approach to the topic. . .

I skipped the next session in favor of a return to the bookfair, but regrouped for the noon session when I attended "The Future (and Present) of the Literary Magazine". I expected this to have more to say about online literary magazines, and it basically ignored them, but it was otherwise interesting. We heard from Don share and Willard Spiegelman, both of whom I've heard before, and also Peter Campion, Darin Ciccotelli and David Mikics.

Time for lunch! (We went up the street to the Artists Cafe, which was nice, and got back in time for another session.)

"Keeping the Faith: Ten Years and Counting" was funny, inspirational, and depressing. The panelists included Allison Amend, Margo Rabb, and Pinckney Benedect, all of whom I knew (although admittedly I'd only met Allison on Thursday), plus Dika Lam, Lara JK Wilson, and Sheri Joseph. They all discussed projects they'd worked on for many years--10 to 15 years in most cases. Lara Wilson actually provided something of a manifesto for sticking with it, with some very good advice. (Lots of friends in the audience for this one.)

For the last time-slot there were several attractive choices, but I decided to go with the "Tribute to Grace Paley by Glad Day Books." I got to know Grace a little at the Under the Volcano workshops in Mexico--both the year I worked with her and the year she came down as a visitor, only 7 months before she died--and so I really wanted to honor her by being there. The audience was small, but the presenters--3 authors published by Grace and Bob's publishing company, Glad Day Books--did a very nice job. There were videos, including a recent interview with Grace's husband, Bob Nichols, and lots of anecdotes. At the end, a few audience members shared their stories of Grace. It was nice.

And then I went up to the party given by Split This Rock Poetry Festival, and had more nice conversation and refreshments with new and old friends.

And that's it.


katrina said...

Interesting, Cliff--particularly the ten years and counting. I'm curious to know if the panelists worked on other projects at the same time or if they've spent those ten years plus on the one.

Clifford Garstang said...

Although they all worked on other projects during the period, they didn't necessarily publish a book. Pinckney, for example, has been working on a novel off and on for 15 years, since his last book was published, but he's also been involved in publishing individual stories, plus working on screenplays.