Association of Writers & Writing Programs, AWP Conference, Black Lawrence Press, Colorado Review, Gettysburg Review, Hawaii Review, Main Street Rag, Massachusetts Review, Mizna, Muse/A, Press 53, Solid Objects
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.
I am one of those folks intimidated by AWP. 🙂 I have never been and keep hoping it will be held in a warm clime when my schedule can align. Your suggestion to spend the time meeting the presses would take a lot of the pressure off. I think there would be a huge FOMO no matter how I’d spend my time there. Between panels, readings, open mics, etc…choice paralysis! Hope to get there eventually. It’s a modern rite of passage for writers.
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Mimi Herman said:
Good news! At least one of your prayers has been answered. AWP will be in Tampa next year. I plan to be there, if that will help on the intimidation front. FOMO is a huge issue for me, too, but I try to assume that anything I attend will tell me something I didn’t know–and make sure I have down time in that dark closet to recover, or at least French fries, periodically throughout the day. AWP now has an app so you make your plans in advance (and change them as needed, when that dark closet calls). And you can always hang around our booth at the book fair if you need a friendly face.
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