April 2015 Editor’s Letter
Writers go to AWP the way Jane Austen characters go to Bath. One moment, you’re pulled in a thousand directions, eager to talk to everyone you see, buy every book, commit to attending twelve overlapping events. The next moment, you don’t see anyone you know, you’re walking down row Z12 and don’t recognize any of the journals or presses, and you can’t figure out why you came. It’s dry as toast, but it’s also a bacchanal and it’ll take a month to recover. And just as English society went to Bath ostensibly for the healing waters, but really to find a spouse, one wonders what AWP attendees are really prowling for as they browse the book tables.
There’s the newbie, blinking happily in the fluorescent light, arms full of purchases and event flyers and swag:
They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, and everywhere.—Northanger Abbey
The veteran, who knows how exhausting and disorienting it is, but can’t escape it:
She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her—and Bath was to be her home.—Persuasion
There’s something called the crush room that sounds like every offsite event, and it hardly needs saying that the pump-room is the book fair:
Every morning bought its regular duties: shops were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked at: and the Pump-room to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one.—Northanger Abbey
I’m somewhere in between the newbie and the veteran. For sure, I love and relate to this poem by Gina Myers about not going to AWP. It’s funny and sweet, but also asks serious and important questions, like: “Who does AWP represent?”
Mostly, though, I can’t wait. I’ve already started my packing list:
900 lunar landing Ex Libris stickers, designed by the incomparable Jessica Seamans of LandLand.
75 copies of The Motion by Lucy K Shaw
100 tickets for Scrollbar admission
8 maps of the universe
And awaiting our arrival will be:
300 Real Pants business cards
600 bookmarks featuring quotes by 6 formidable women of Real Pants
Assorted laboratory equipment
Most of that will help us transform Booth #1337 into a book portal and science fair, with the theme of “The Internet, the Universe, and You.” It’s an experiment! We hope that you’ll stop by and do a super quick stint as a test subject. I’m still not quite sure what that will mean, but I will give you a bookmark for your trouble. One experiment is, we will connect to anyone who isn’t at AWP by broadcasting from the book fair via Periscope. Make sure to download the app and follow Real Pants @actualpants to join us in Minneapolis.
Weeks ago, I devised the menu for SCROLLBAR, the hot hot party we’re throwing with Submittable and Curbside on Saturday. The most annoying challenge of AWP is trying to find a restaurant that will seat everyone who has kind of bunched up together after the book fair and before all the offsite readings. So we’re serving dinner and dishing up a sweet talk show hosted by our managing editor, RM O’Brien, and featuring Madeline ffitch and and Michael Czyzniejewski. Here’s what we’re serving:
3 sliders: portobello + basil || buffalo chicken + blue cheese || braised pork + kimchi
Tater tot hotdish
Dark & Stormy
Too much alliteration in the sliders?
It may sound boastful to say that the thought of cooking dinner for 100 people on the last day of AWP does not intimidate me. Certainly, the thought of keeping warm and transporting dinner for 100 people to a gallery in a city I don’t know and where I have no definite arrangements for transportation and only tentative arrangements for crockpots most certainly does intimidate me. But the cooking itself offers respite. It’s three or four hours spent away from the crush, away from the anxiety about how many books I’m selling versus how many I’m buying. In the kitchen, I’ll be more or less alone, armed with the right ingredients and a plan that I know will more or less come off. Then, once I’m restored to myself, I’ll get to share the food with very fine company. Jane Austen again:
‘My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
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