AWP 2012 Report.

Trying something new this year. All photos are from the evening festivities. All words are stray observations from the book fair.


{Doug Paul Case @ Convocation in Chicago}


9:48am – Why am I here? This might be hell. No wifi, no cell signal, no link to the outside world, just sitting here trying to engage with people who have profound social anxiety to the degree that engaging in a social way is paramount to having fingernails yanked out by needle nose pliers.

9:56am – Attempting to enter a zen state. Attempting meditation. Calm yourself. Be in the moment. It feels like people are buying books everywhere but here. Draw them in with your energy.

10:06am – Desperation condenses on the walls & ceilings of this place. It drips from the air ducts. The table across the aisle from me has a poster asking the question, “What is creative sustainability?” Whatever it is, it does not feel like it’s here.


{The esteemed host of Convocation in Chicago}

10:21am – Met Amanda Jane Smith. Handed off a bunch of post cards. I’m trying to see how long I can get people to stay at my table by talking to them.

10:35am –  Good conversation with a young Asian woman. There was a moment in the convo when it was going so well I wanted to cut ties before I could fuck it up. Work past that.

10:45am –  Met Juked editor. Cool guy, talked shop about conference. 1-2 min convo. Talking is different w/ males. Need to entertain or appeal to their benefit.


{Chris Newgent @ Convocation in Chicago}

11:14am – Smattering of interactions. People aren’t going to talk to you if they don’t want to. No matter how much you engage them.

12:06pm –  Met a submitter I rejected. We had a good dialogue. Talked about creating a mark of quality.

12:19pm – Met Liz Wykoff and her friend from American Short Fiction. I feel an overwhelming sense of wanting to read more of ASF. An almost savage desire to get all their back catalog and devour it in a day. I don’t mention this to them. I think it shows on my face though.


{Tim Jones-Yelvington @ Convocation in Chicago}

12:31pm – Keep accidentally dissing Bryan Furuness. Totally not intentional, just keep having bad timing when he comes up to talk.

12:55pm – Lesser men have been broken by running a book table at AWP.

3:30pm – Thinking about Wu-Tang. This quote pops into my head “You gotta have love in your heart.’ – The RZA


{Literary Karaoke fake Elvis following Convocation in Chicago}


8:50am – When I lived here in Chicago I was lost, confused, angry, afraid, ignorant, obsessive, cloistered and immature. What kind of a city fosters that kind of behavior? Most cities foster that kind of behavior.

9:06am – Walking past Columbia I read a promotional poster for the school that said “Live what you love.” I am part of a generation sold this trajectory that getting paid for doing what you love is the ultimate goal. What’s unspoken is that making a living doing what you love is an incredible display of privilege. And most people do not have the means or privilege to attempt this ideal.

9:28am – It is a struggle to stay present. Maintain.


{Kurt Kennedy and a big hammered dude @ Neutron Bomb #8}

9:39am –  Thinking about how I got here, to AWP. What road lead me to sitting at this book fair table? I was raised in a place of illusion, an artificial culture. It felt wrong, inauthentic, a fake life. I searched for things that felt real. Books felt real. But books proffer their own illusions. And the truth is, everything has an authentic and artificial side.

9:45am – What is creative sustainability? Being fearless of the future.

10:01am – Met Barry Grass. Fucked up the spelling of his name on the postcard I made excerpting his essay. Felt shitty. Make a new run of cards and send him a stack.


{I read something @ Neutron Bomb #8}

10:15am – Be aware of peoples inclination to just want to say “hi” and nothing else. Let them move on and don’t take it personal. You’ve got no idea where they’re coming from.

{If you are planning on giving a reading in the future, put those plans on hold until you watch Scott McClanahan read. This is the bar. You are instructed to either meet it or exceed it.}


  1. christopher. says:

    Loved this recap, man.

    Great seeing you last week. I hope my reading at least approached the bar. McClanahan is incredible.

  2. eric says:

    looks like a great time — maybe next year they can bring it to NY.

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