Wednesday, February 6, 2008

AWP and NYC and Herpes

A friend of mine did a list, which seems apropos, as too much happened this last week. I will say that I, too, felt the most grown up I've ever been while in NYC at the writers conference, to the point where I felt equal at some points to the well-known folks around me. And I met many interesting persons working the Prairie Schooner table.

People like this one woman, finishing her masters, who couldn't believe you actually WRITE while doing a Ph.D. For 10 minutes we talked as people came by getting magnets and buying subscriptions. She thought for sure all you did was get all hoity-toity theoretical and never write. What craziness. Who would do a Ph.D. simply to become an ivory tower block in the wall? I've successfully almost made it through grad school without really getting (or reading much) Derrida, Freud, Foucault, Jung, Kant, or Nietzsche, among others. Lord be blessed.

1) I nervously approached the editor of a press who has, for three years, given me many a kind note--hand written--about my poetry manuscript. He knew who I was right off the bat, and I thanked him for his notes over the years. This was awkward, especially as it occured after having been awake for only about 45 minutes. I'm not good at talking to people. I'd prefer a book contract, of course.

2) Ran in to one of my BFA profs, who also left a note for me. As well, one of my old undergrad colleagues left me a note. Pretty neat.

3) Met several MFA folks from way back at Ohio State. People even hugged me when they saw me at the conference. Why? I'm not approachable. And certainly not squishy.

4) Talked with a masters student--whose name I forget--at the Fugue table (published out of Idaho). Turns out he began his bachelors at Evansville just as I left. He knew me. Guess I left an impression in college. I wonder what kind?

5) Saw, from a distance, several writers that are well known. It was like going to the Guggenheim and MoMA--seeing famous art work / authors is sort of a "eh, so what?" moment. Especially the art, which we've managed to cliche up the whazoo so much, that I appreciate things I make at home out of straws and toothpaste much more. Too much Picasso in NY.

6) Bought two books by MFA "kids" I went to school with: Katie Pierce (poetry) and Sonya Huber (memoir). Both are very fine writers, so I look forward to the reads IF I get to them. I even got Sonya to sign my copy.

7) While being a bouncer at the Schooner soiree one evening, an editor of Crab Orchard Review--who published my first essay a year ago--talked with me about my work and the burgeoning genre. You know what's taken 8 years of grad school to tell me? Editors are people too. They like fart jokes, enjoy a drink, have good and bad days, even bleed. I am this dense. But helps me understand that my rejected work isn't complete crap, it's just crap that day.

8) Since AWP would not sell additional passes to anyone because it "sold out" (STUPID), my wife and I went to kinkos where we scanned my badge and made one for her. There were actually Italian mafia guys--hands folded across their belts, in suits--at entrances to events. Surreal. Dumb. She got in fine.

9) It's rare when you find decent food when traveling, but Pazza Notte was great; we only wish Lincoln had something half this good. French Italian is what I call it. Reasonable prices, very good food, 2nd best if not best fries I've ever head (and didn't expect to have fries at lunch with what I ordered, but it worked). The creme brulee looked perfect, and the wife said it tasted so. We went twice.

10) We went to FAO Schwarz and I bought a book worm (below), my wife mad cow disease. After looking at the company's website, you can also purchase Chlamydia, Herpes, Staph, Typhoid, Ebola, Athlete's Foot, Bad Breath.... Boy, all kinds of ways to considerately tell people what you think of them.


Kathy said...

"Editors are people, too." This also applies in the garden writing part of the writing business. It was a revelation to me, too.

Anonymous said...

"Since AWP would not sell additional passes to anyone because it "sold out" (STUPID), my wife and I went to kinkos where we scanned my badge and made one for her."


Anonymous said...

Selling out membership is stupid? You think you can fit a billion people into a hotel or a stadium? Congratulations on earning your own "stupid" badge, and congratulations on demonstrating how to steal from a non-profit organization. Hey world: stupid thief here!

Anonymous said...

I just found out about this guy. Writers like me sacrificed some things to pay for an AWP membership. And this guy takes pleasure in letting us know how he stole -- yes, STOLE -- a membership? What a jerk.

Benjamin Vogt said...

AWP Folks--We did not steal. We were more, MORE than willing to GIVE AWP money, but they would not take it. My wife isn't a writer, and only wanted to attend one panel with me--that'd been AWP getting THEIR money's worth. I wanted to support a "non profit" but was not allowed to. Instead, a friendly, open, equal opportunity non profit posted dozens and dozens of "guards"--which I suppose our fees went to paying.

Benjamin Vogt said...

And people not personally addressing me or leaving your names, though it won't make it "right" in your minds, I wasn't the only one to sneak in. A guy named Rigoberto Gonzalez--who writes on the blog Harriet for the Poetry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) org--also snuck some folks in:
AND let's not forget the issue Ed Byrne brings up about those, like my wife and I, who already had hotels and flights paid for and had expected to register at the conference as usual, but only had 4 weeks of "warning":

Anonymous said...

"AWP Folks--We did not steal. We were more, MORE than willing to GIVE AWP money, but they would not take it." OK, so you sent them a donation as if you had paid for the privilege of a membership, right? Right?? If so, then my apologies. If not, my opinion stands.

Anonymous said...

(Not that it matters, but that should have read "NOT an AWP member" -- Yeah, I paid extra to be able to attend the conference.)