Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Things I Think I'm Doing at AWP

So...I'm doing it!

This is going to be incredibly strange, guys.

I'm packing up the car and heading out to Boston tomorrow, solo,  for AWP. Don't get me wrong. It's not like I've never gone somewhere on my own before. I braved it up and attended BEA all by my lonesome back in 2010 (I live 2 hours away so I drove in and out every day). And I've stayed at a hotel alone, for three nights, for a work conference. But staying at a hotel AND attending an event with just me, myself, and I is going to be weird. I gotta be honest.

Consider this your warning, Boston! I'm planning on making a nuisance of myself. This chick doesn't do "alone" well and she really, really wants to meet YOU.

So here's where you can find me, if you're so inclined (I'm begging you, come find me!):


I'll be arriving late afternoon, early evening, I think. I'm gonna be HUNGRY. Come out to dinner with me. Especially if you know Boston better than I do. (I've only been to Boston once, for work, so I'm pretty sure everyone on the planet knows it better than me).

Monster Magazines of the Midwest - 6pm : Then there's this. It's at the Back Bay Social Club, wherever that is. I might go. Sounds pretty rad. Is there food there, cause that'll take care of my HUNGRY problem.



9am (It's a toss up between these three)

Modern Fairy Tales(Anjali Sachdeva, John Crowley, Jane Yolen, Kelly Link, Kate Bernheimer) Authors who have written modern retellings of old tales will discuss the need for fables in modern society and the literary marketplace, as well as the writing process they use to go beyond archetype and tradition to create new tales.

A Capella Zoo (Laura Miller, Amelia Gray, Erin Stalcup, Mary Lou Buschi, Jack Kaulfus) A reading of the absurdist, uncanny, fabulist, cross-genre, experimental, bizarro, new weird, mythic, surreal, and fantastic.

It's Not the End of the World!  Poets Albert Goldbarth, William Greenway, and Dorianne Laux as they read their poems from the issue along with other apocalyptic work. The moderator, River Styx Editor Richard Newman, will discuss special themed issues and how writers can best submit their work to them.

10:30am (I'm leaning more towards the first one)

The State of Literary Publishing (Jeffrey Lependorf, Richard Nash, Daniel Slager, Julie Schaper, Max Rudin) A panel of distinguished literary publishing professionals discusses the latest challenges, innovations, and intrigues facing literary publishing today.

Being a Good Literary Citizen  - (Rob Spillman, Alan Heathcock, Emma Straub, Julie Barer, Matthew Specktor) An editor, agent, and two writers talk about the importance of being genuinely engaged with all aspects of publishing. Topics include using social media in a nonself-serving way, mentoring fellow writers and editors, helping literary organizations, and hand-selling books and magazines that have nothing to do with you.

12pm (Leaning towards the first one again)

Exploring Unconventional Strategies for Indie Lit Startups (Steve Westbrook, Matty Byloos, Carrie Seitzinger, J.A. Tyler, Skyler Schulze) Contributors to this panel discuss their recent experience of founding successful new journals, presses, and a reading series. As they examine how their efforts toward sustainability intersect or contradict industry lore, they offer strategies for developing alternative funding structures, distribution models, and marketing techniques.

Lit Writers Writing Pop Fiction(Ed Falco, Julianna Baggott, Lise Haines, Benjamin Percy) What exactly are we saying when we refer to a novel as literary or serious fiction, as opposed to popular or commercial fiction? Can clear distinctions be made? What do these commonly used terms—literary, serious versus commercial, popular—mean to writers? Is it possible to write a commercial novel that is also literary? Writers who have published literary works as well as novels that might be considered popular fiction explore these and other relevant questions.

Graywolf Press Readings(Sven Birkerts, Mary Szybist, Mary Jo Bang, J. Robert Lennon, Catherine Barnett) 

Cooperative Publishing and the Future of Small Press(Martin Woodside, Derick Burleson, Jacqueline Kudler, Chris Baron, Geoffrey Gatza) Representatives from Sixteen Rivers, City Works, BlazeVOX, and Calypso Editions discuss the role cooperatives have, may, and will play in the shifting publishing landscape. The panel explores how various cooperative models help reimagine ways for the 21st-century small press to thrive, sustain literary communities, introduce new writers, and keep great literature in circulation.


Red Hen Press Readings(Peggy Shumaker, Eloise Klein Healy, Katharine Coles, John Barr, Andrew Lam) 


Chapbook as Gateway(B.K. Fischer, Stephanie Lenox, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Susana H. Case, David Tucker)  The recent popularity of the chapbook invites examination of the challenges and promise of the form, the opportunities it affords for emerging poets, its role as a creative bridge to the publication of a full-length book, and the renaissance of artisanal book-making.


Can't I clone myself and attend them all?

Grub Street & Small Demons "Get Lit" - 6pm (Copley Square Hotel)
Anomalous, Tiny Hardcore, Rose Metal Press - 6pm (CCTV Studio)

Night of Presidential Fiction - 8pm (Sweetwater Tavern)
Curbside & Counterpoint - 8pm (Words & Music)

Apt Party - 9pm (LIR)



10:30am (leaning towards the first one)

Start a Nonprofit in Your Own Backyard(Bao-Long Chu, Allen Gee, Janet Hurley, Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Jerome Vielman) This panel of founding directors and arts administrators will provide useful information on how to start a literary nonprofit. We will guide participants through the process of incorporating one’s passion into a viable project, working for public good.

The Geek in Me(Ethan Gilsdorf, Lizzie Stark, Peter Bebergal) Geek and fringe subcultures such as Dungeons & Dragons, Larping, psychedelia, punk rock, and comic books can be ideal portals through which to examine the self, construct narratives, and comment on the culture at large. In this session, three panelists whose books mix memoir, pop culture, and ethnography discuss best practices for breaking into subcultures conducting fringe culture reportage and using that research to tell powerful and poignant stories about the human condition.

Books in the Age of ReaderCentric Publishing(Buzz Poole, Lisa Pearson, Richard Nash, Matvei Yankelevich, Elizabeth Koch)  These panelists challenge the traditional models of books and publishing by embracing contemporary technological capabilities while also honoring traditions that remain central to the notion of a book, whether fiction, nonfiction, or illustrated. In doing so, they prioritize authors and readers.

12pm (leaning towards the second one)

Experimental Fiction Today (John Parras, Daniel Green, Alissa Nutting, Ted Pelton, M. Bartley Seigel) Editors, writers, critics, and teachers discuss recent trends in experimental fiction and how such work enriches the publishing landscape, the creative writing workshop, and the direction and function of literature itself. What are some of the more exciting trends in innovative fiction? What are the special challenges and rewards for writers testing fiction’s limits? How does fabulist work work? If all literature is innovative, what distinguishes the experimental from other types of fiction?

How to Build a Successful Kickstarter Campaign(Meaghan O’Connell, Benjamin Samuel, Mat Honan, Joshua Mandelbaum, Laurie Ochoa) Kickstarter moderates a panel of editors from Electric Literature, Words Without Borders, Slake, Longshot, and Tomorrow Magazine for an instructional and informational session on developing a successful Kickstarter campaign for your periodical or publishing project. We’ll walk you through the process step by step and discuss how to best represent your brand, set a fundraising goal, shoot a video, create rewards, engage backers, and promote your campaign.


Where Marketing Meets Development (Whitney Scharer, Stewart Moss, Daniel Johnson, Andrea Dupree) Representatives of renowned nonprofit literary organizations—The Writer’s Center, Lighthouse Writers, 826Boston and Grub Street—speak about the intersection of marketing and fundraising for literary organizations, and how development efforts can create community, promote an organization’s programming and services, and be innovative and fun rather than daunting.


eBooks and Indie Lit Publishing(Craig Morgan Teicher, Fiona McCrae, John Oakes, Amelia Robertson, Dennis Loy Johnson)  In this panel, sponsored by Publishers Weekly, indie press editors will discuss and debate what has and hasn’t worked in terms of e-book strategy and how digital changes the indie publishing world.


Bring Out Your Dead (Rebecca Makkai, Tea Obreht, Lauren Groff, Tim Horvath, Alexi Zentner) The ghost story thrives in literary fiction as well as the oral tradition, defying genre. How do we keep these compelling tales fresh? How do we frighten without resorting to cheap tricks? How do we navigate the borders between spirituality, science, doubt, and a reliable narrative voice? And why are we drawn to these themes again and again? Five writers introduce you to their ghosts and tell you how they summoned them.


My Friday night needs some spicing up. Where will YOU be?

Ampersand, YesYes, Engine Books - 8pm (McGreevy's)



Wandering the bookfair for sure!!


The Business of Publishing 1st Novels / Author and Publisher Perspective(Dennis Loy Johnson, Christopher Boucher, Emily St. John Mandel, Vanessa Veselka) Melville House copublisher and cofounder Dennis Johnson will lead a practical discussion of the publishing process with three authors in various stages of their literary careers: Topics will include: acquisitions, editing, big-house versus independent publishers, publicity, marketing, tours, social-networking, and the changing role of the author.


Strategies and Tactics for Small Indie Nonprofit(David Rothman, John Barr, David Yezzi) This panel, featuring three speakers who have helped to direct and govern independent literary and arts organizations across the country, will address crucial strategic and tactical problems such as how to create a strong development program, how to build a mission-centered board, and how to retain strong leadership.


Literary Firsts - 530pm (MiddleSex Lounge)


While I'm there, I also plan to get some face time with some of the writers I've been buddying up to over the years. Steve Himmer, Joshua Mohr, Ben Tanzer, Carissa Halston, Alan Heathcock, Justin Lawrence Daugherty, J Robert Lennon, Tim Horvath - I'm looking at you!

Also really excited to meet these amazing small press peeps - Atticus Books, YesYesBooks, Rose Metal Press, Curbside Splendor, Lazy Fascist Press, Midwestern Gothic...

So that's my AWP week, sort of. What panels will you be attending? Which parties are you crashing? Wanna hang out a bit? You know how to find me - @TNBBC!!


  1. Another Friday night option:

    Black Ocean/McSweeney's/Wave Books reading (as followed by a dance party!)


    Can't wait to meet you in person!

    -- Carissa

  2. Also, yes, there's food at Back Bay Social Club. :)

  3. Phew! That's great new, Carissa. And adding that party to my list. Will you be there too?