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If you have the nerve, I recommend attending the AWP Conference, a massive writers’ conference that travels to different cities in the US each year. Imagine spending several days in the company of 12,000 other partially socialized introverts, trying to make the painful choice among far too many simultaneous panel discussions, visiting hundreds of tables at the book fair, and desperately searching for that small dark closet in which you can recover from all this stimulation. Really it’s a lot more fun than I’m making it sound, and you’re always likely to see someone you know. And the swag is excellent.

This year, the conference was held in Washington DC, an interesting place to visit at the moment, considering other things currently occurring in our nation’s capital. Except for an NEA panel and a trek to find some surprisingly good French fries, I spent my entire time in the book fair.

While there, it occurred to me that you might want to see some of the faces behind the journals and presses to which we’re sending our work. If you’re like me, submitting to journals is still intimidating even after all these years. You send your stuff out into the ether (in the old days,  before Submittable, we had to type up those poems and that all-important cover letter, make our copies at Kinko’s, stuff everything into a manila envelope, lick it and stick it in a mailbox, and hope like crazy that we wouldn’t get it all back with a painfully generic rejection letter suitable only for wallpapering our bathrooms), and wait for those faceless editors to respond.

I was delighted to discover that the people behind those journals and presses had actual faces. They were real and quirky and delightful.

So I’m sharing with you a sampling of the people I met. Not a bad one in the bunch. Next time you’re logging in to your Submittable account (I even met the Submittable people, who were charming and fun), extrapolate from these pictures, and know that you’re sending your work to someone who’s probably much like you: a writer who’s passionate about good writing and wants people to have the chance to read the best poetry available.