The following are unedited recordings of our trip to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual conference, which is taking place at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, GA this year..pretty dry for you non-writers…but hey, it’s what I’m up to! If you are a writer, you might want so see Susie's photos of the events here described.
11 am Thursday
On the road to AWP! Started in a fairly timely manner…for me at least. I had this great idea of making business cards about twenty minutes before it was time to walk out the door…the result…not great business cards. Who would ask for my info anyway? Unknown, but now I’m prepared, or I will be as soon as I cut them out and write my information on the backs.
Picked up Jessica and Katie on the way to Susie’s. She had just come back from vacuuming her van at the Circle K in preparation for our trip to Atlanta, about five hours north of Tallahassee. It looks great.
Katie has burned an “Official AWP Soundtrack.” She’s musically hip, so highlights include Fiery Furnaces, “My Dog was Lost but Now He’s Found,” The Shins, “Know Your Onion!” and David Bowie doing a fair Johnny Cash impression on “Scary Monsters.”
1 pm Thursday
Just leaving Cordele, GA, which Katie says is the Watermelon capital of the World. At the Zaxby’s the man in the booth behind us sang through our lunch…a country song we couldn’t quite make out but are assuming was of his own invention. At the BP Susie and I talked to the store clerk about the out the new kinds of candy at the candy: The Reese’s’ Big cups with mixed nuts, (he say’s their big, and make it seem strange) the Hershey’s chocolate bars with brownie chunk (the brownie chunks are crunchy, not soft), and the Hershey’s Kiss shaped chocolate cookies (he hasn’t tried those yet).
Meanwhile Jessica wondered if she could submit a receipt for the wooden plack depicting a large sow being suckled by a number of mouse sized progeny as an AWP related experienced.
On CNN this morning when they announce that a busload of baseball players from Ohio has plunged over an overpass onto the highway below. The speculate the drive was not asleep, but that the way the I-75 HOV lane splits off was very confusing, and by the time he realized, it was too late. Really sad.
Back in AWP land…we made it in time to see readings by folks who have been published in the Georgia Review, although I missed Judith Kitchens, I caught Judith Ortiz Cofer reading from Silent Dancing…which was interesting because she read sections not included in the excerpt we use in our teaching textbook “Convergences.” I was blown away by Kevin Brockmeyer’s reading of a story about a man who finds God’s overcoat in a thrift store and becomes privy to the prayers of everyone around him. George Singleton read from “Don’t Drown the Rocks” and teasingly left us mid-arc, so now I will have to hunt down that issue of the Georgia Review.
The seven o’clock receptions were adequate…Arizona State won my vote for best food, only because they augmented cheese and crackers with veggies and hummus. As a result I met a few people from Arizona who were confused when I said I was from Florida, and one slightly crazy woman who was from Alaska, also there for dinner.
Lee Smith, the keynote speaker, was excellent…very personable and funny and honest and inspiring.
After conference dance receptions with cover bands are generally a scary proposition…There is this feeling of being back in high school, where everyone feels the disco is lame, and the cool kids only use it as an excuse to stay out so they can go have a party in some one’s basement…but I will say in this case that although the line for free drinks was lengthy indeed, that the dance band, Party Nation, was great. I’ve never seen a balding white guy rock Nelly with greater skill and musicality. I can see why they hired them two of the three nights.
There was of course a cool kids party…for AWP board members and guests in the swank rooftop bar of the Hotel. Did I get in? Yes, I did, by the skin of my teeth with a little help from a friend already inside, whom I won’t incriminate by naming here. When I asked what he did to rate an invite, he said they had snuck in with the service early on.
When was all said and done around midnight, it took the usual forty-five minutes for everyone to figure out what to do next. Forrest was all for the bars, while Susie and I killed half an hour having pizza with Sami in the lobby while Katie tried to keep up with an old Russian dude on drinks. Apparently she held her own…but felt the pain this morning.