Day Two

Filed under: Blog |

Today’s dispatches from the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago comes to us from Kwame Dawes, Claire Harlan-Orsi, and Wendy Oleson:

Kwame Dawes, Glenna Luschei Editor-in-Chief
“Nikky Giovanni glows. She is excited about an event she is planning for Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou–she wants to have the world say good things about them while they are able to hear it. She is giddy with this news and with the way this grand idea has come together. It will happen at Virginia Tech. The thing is, Giovanni is consuming much of her reading time at this packed grand ballroom reading and conversation talking with that rapid, spunky, cutting and energetic delivery she has mastered. She knows this, but does not mind–this is important. Finally she reads three poems–they come out of her with the wholeness and inevitability of finished art–like a well crafted cup or an ornate ceremonial sword or a snazzy jacket that fits perfectly. Thomas Sayers Ellis–still afroed and hip after all these years, says, “I was worried about this interview,” when Nikky says wryly to him in response to a provocative question, “Now, Thomas, I was worried about this interview,” and we all laugh because we know that these are two fearless thinkers and performers. I have to admire an icon who gives shout outs to her graduate student from the stage. Nikky Giovanni’s talk is a lovely highlight of the AWP events for me. I join the line just to shake her hand. She is still glowing, and generous. … The AIR SCHOONER t-shirt is a hit. I pull apart my jacket and model it from the stage during my session. I make sure to suck in my belly. All is vanity, a chasing after the wind.”

Claire Harlan-Orsi, Blog and Social Networking Editor
“Today writers celebrated, but they also worried, and it was often difficult to tell the difference. Writers celebrated getting published but worried about Amazon’s stranglehold on the market. Writers celebrated comic literature but worried it isn’t taken seriously. Writers celebrated the vibrant state of creative non-fiction but worried about the culture of self-revelation. Writers celebrated their favorite blogs but worried about the design of the least attractive ones. Here in the Palmer House lobby I can’t tell what anyone is feeling anymore, not least myself. My Starbucks edge has worn off and sometimes I find myself staring at someone for no reason, eyes glazed, just to have somewhere to plant my focus.”

Wendy Oleson, Senior Fiction Reader
“It was encouraging to see so many visitors at the Prairie Schooner table. After chatting with an array of enthusiastic readers, submitters, past contributors, and book-prize winners, I hit the panel circuit. I was particularly moved by the memorial tribute to Jeanne Leiby, author of the short story collection Downriver and, as she liked to note, “the first female editor of The Southern Review. I never had the fortune to meet Ms. Leiby, but I’ve admired and returned to her stories–particularly “Nike Site” and “Docks”–since I first read her collection three years ago.”

Here is what’s on tap for tomorrow:

Friday, March 2

Book Signing by Prairie Schooner Book Prize Winners
(1:00pm-2:00pm, AWP Book Fair, Table O20)
Current and past winners of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize for Poetry will be signing their books. Featuring Shane Book, Kara Candito, and Mari L’Esperance.

Under New Management: The Literary Journal in a Changing World
(3:00pm, Continental B, Hilton Chicago, Lobby Level)
A panel featuring Glenna Luschei and our Managing Editor, Marianne Kunkel.

Gender Interrupted: Poetry of the Alternatively Gendered
(3:00pm-4:15pm, Lake Ontario, Hilton Chicago, 8th Floor)
A panel featuring Stacey Waite, creative writing faculty member.