Dispatches | April 12, 2010

We’re back and pleasantly exhausted from our four days at the AWP Conference.  Thanks to everyone who was there for coming by our table, saying hello, all the great conversations and panels, and overall wonderful time during these last couple of days.  My messenger bag is filled with business cards, magazines, signed books, receipts, and who knows what else.

So, a few follow up (but not final) thoughts on Denver …

  • TMR had a projection screen.  This alone made it easy to find our table when people (including me) got lost.  I think we’ll do that again next year.
  • The phrase “labor of love” should never be used again.  Writers know that every time we sit down to write we struggle against clichés.  So that should be true of editors, too, right?  Then let’s never use the phrase “labor of love” again.  I heard that phrase one too many times this weekend.
  • Kirstin Valdez Quade and Jason Brown are awesome.
  • So too are new friends William Giraldi, Anna Journey, Sean Hill, Katie Karlan, Danielle Deulen, John Evans, Will Schutt, Austin Bunn, and old/new friend (huh?) Karen Gentry.
  • After trying to navigate the Escher drawing that was last year’s AWP, the wide-open and modern Denver Convention Center was a welcome change.  Having all the booths in one large space made for a much better event: easier to wander around, find the various presses and journals, and a stronger sense of community rather than fragmentation based on who bought a larger space.  It was also very easy to get to all the panels, and there was a never problem finding the bathroom or an overpriced cup of coffee.
  • My favorite part?  Sitting behind the TMR booth.  Meeting the readers and writers—the lifeblood of any magazine—was really exhilarating.  Too often, I forget about community and audience when sitting at my desk, agonizing over a story I’m writing, or frowning at the large stack of submissions to read in the TMR office.  Shaking hands, talking with friendly and smart people, suggesting which stories and poems to read, all of it was a needed reminder of why we do this.
  • “It’s the altitude” was the running joke.  It got old.  But it’s also really true.
  • Andrea Drygas is awesome.
  • So too are all the other sharp and creative editors I met this weekend: Ladette Randolph of Ploughshares; Carolyn Kuebler of New England Review; Tyler Meier of The Kenyon Review; Cara Blue Adams, Jen McClanaghan, and Jeannie Leiby of The Southern Review; Hannah Tinti of One Story, Joanna Beth Tweedy of Quiddity; Aaron Burch of Hobart; Matt and Roxane over at PANK; and so many other great editors too numerous to name here (okay one more: lotta love to Alison Joseph and Jon Tribble at Crab Orchard Review).
  • Greenpeace outside of the convention center everyday?  Annoying.
  • The corned beef and pastrami sandwich from Jason’s Deli?  Heaven.
  • Why buy a table if no one will ever be there?  There were several tables that were set up, and yet, no one ever seemed to be at them.  I don’t get it.
  • Like many of you, I came home with a ton of books and journals so I don’t need to browse the bookstores for a while because I have good stuff by Anne Sanow, Megan Ciesla, TMR’s own Marc McKee, Ira Sukrungruang, and Rachel Contreni Flynn (who insists her book must be read while drinking whiskey—guess whose book just moved to the top of my reading list?)
  • No, TMR did not get yelled at this weekend.  The screaming and cursing you heard Friday morning was directed at Mississippi Review, not us
  • Everyone had some kind of deal, giveaway, gimmick, show, something, at their table.  Ours was the drawing to win an iPad.  But my personal favorite shows my Ohio bias: The Cincinnati Review’s game of cornhole.  I slaughtered—slaughtered!—CR’s managing editor Nicola Mason. For which I received, um, well, nothing…
  • The off-site events were fantastic.  My favorite was Friday night at the Mercury Café—thanks to Christina Hutchins for insisting I come—working not one, not two, but three readings.  I got to hear poets D.A. Powell, Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander, and Kevin Prufer, to name just a few of the several terrific poets that read.
  • I have a ton of other thoughts and shout outs, but let’s keep this post short(er).  So, finally, a big thanks to the entire TMR crew for everything you did this weekend: Speer Morgan, our fantastic editor who has made TMR the great magazine it is, Kris Somerville, Lania Knight, Nell McCabe, Dedra Earl, Joe “I Met Joy Williams and Can Die Now” Aguilar, Kate McIntyre, Stephanie Carpenter, and poet/baller Marc McKee.  I think we had one of the most fun, engaging booths at the conference, and that’s entirely because of you guys.