This past Thursday through Saturday was the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs convention, a.k.a. AWP. I come from a background of comics and video game conventions, so it was interesting to see what this writer con was all about. The closest thing I’d been to AWP was Wordstock in Portland. I was tabling at AWP for Minor Arcana Press, where I am the Associate Editor.
The first thing I noticed about the con was that everyone was dressing and acting their Writer Persona, myself included. “Everyone here is cosplaying as a writer,” I joked on Twitter, but it was true. There was a lot of tweed and bow ties and classy shoes and red lipstick. The networking aspect of AWP is huge. Sometimes by “networking,” I mean meeting the amazing amount of poets and poetry publishers that are associated with Minor Arcana Press, as well as chatting with artists who are interested in submitting to Minor Arcana Press’ forthcoming journal, Monster Fancy. But I also got to see a great deal of lovely Goddard people and writers I know and love and haven’t seen in far too long.
Some of my dear Goddard pals.
Technically I see this fierce poet all the time, but hey, still exciting to see each other at AWP.
Networking and table-minioning is mostly what I ended up doing for the three days of the con; this included giving people single-card Tarot readings, which was a lot of fun. There was a long lovely list of panels and workshops, but sadly I only made it out to one. Still, it was a great panel, and a rousing defense of genre fiction. It was funny going to a con where genre fiction was a thing to be defended rather than a default. It felt good to be repping a huge book of speculative poetry.
Getcher comic book poetry! Get it while it’s ekphrastic!
Minor Arcana Press’ flagship product at AWP was our brand-spankin’-new book of poems inspired by comic books and superheroes, Drawn to Marvel: Poems From the Comic Books. It was a truly triumphant launch for the book; people ate ’em up. Many of the poets and one of the editors, Bryan D. Dietrich, were on hand to sign. Drawn to Marvel is a honkin’ book. At 139 poets and something like 300 poems, it’s a force to be reckoned with. It spans nearly five decades of people writing poetry about superheroes and comics, everything from Popeye to Storm to Batman. It everyone from epic names in the poetry world to wee poetry padawans like me. Some of my favorite poems include “Oya Invites Storm to Tea” by Tara Betts, “Luke Cage Tells It Like It Is” by Gary Jackson, “Sex Life of the Fantastic Four” by Michael Martone, and “Haikus from Supervillains to the People They Love” by Ryan Bradley.
Poet Stephen Burt, poet/editor Bryan D. Dietrich, poet Gary Jackson, and poet/EIC Evan J. Peterson
At the Drawn to Marvel launch event at the local geek hangout Raygun Lounge, I read my li’l Swamp Thing poem (“The Decomposition of Alec Holland”) next to Michael Arnzen, Stephen Burt, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Tara Betts, and more. Swoon!
Really, for a book release, AWP made all of my wildest dreams come true. The poetry industry is a weird place, and it was great to sink deeper into the weirdness. My secret hope is that projects like Drawn to Marvel advance the cause of speculative poetry and encourage people to look at the connections between poetry and popular culture.
Short version of the story: Minor Arcana Press is so hot right now. Be sure to keep up with us on our website, and submit to Monster Fancy*, ya weirdos.
Although I was working, that didn’t stop me from getting out and spending a tad more money than I should have on shiny books and journals.
One of my favorites was Spork Press, which has beautiful, bizarre hand-bound books. I got “Saturn,” which is basically the most satisfying David Bowie fan fiction possible. They’re beautiful and well-designed products; I’m a huge sucker for sexy book design, thus my torrid love affair with Wave Books. I also really enjoy Two Sylvias Press. Aside from carrying two of Jeannine Hall Gailey’s poetry books, they also print the Poet’s Tarot, which is a fun tarot deck with poets as the major arcana and court cards.
In conclusion, an AWP well-spent. Yesterday I hunkered in my fortress of introversion, read a lot of comics**, and I’m ready now to return those emails and continue this lovely mad writing life.
*Monster Fancy: A journal of high-brow, low-brow, and no-brow art and writing for the discerning monster enthusiast.
**Finally read Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, cue all the feels oh god read that whole series at once