Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Melting Clocks at AWP

I just got an email from a writer friend from Wisconsin and he says:  "My lord, wasn't Chicago a bit surreal?"  That's maybe the perfect word for it.  How to even begin to parse such an experience?

If it was surreal, maybe a collage of images would work best:  walking along Wabash street, under the thundering El, headed back from a night of drinking with two writers.  Listening to Alison Hawthorne Deming teach us about creating poetry in our communities.  Reading poems to a packed room at the Chicago Cultural Center.  Asking two men, new friends, for their birth stories.  Sitting at the Salmon Poetry table with Patrick Hicks and finding out we both lived in the same college in Oxford, ten years apart.  Sitting exhausted on the floor with a sandwich, almost too tired to eat it.  Meeting the publisher of Salamander who published a poem of mine.  Buying a pair of sexy cowboy boots.  Falling asleep, every night, very late, to the vision of the Sears Tower, rising like mist outside my window.

It was incredibly rich, and deeply exhausting.   It's something to be in a hotel with 10,000 other writers.  Everywhere you go, someone is talking about meter or publishing or promotion on Facebook or quoting a line from a poem.  It's the only time in my life that I don't feel poetry is marginalized.  It's pretty heady.  I can't wait for next year.

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