Monday, April 12, 2010

your awp experience is (still) valid too

I'm waiting at SFO for Hugh & Mary's delayed plane to arrive. Finally have a few moments to write about AWP.

Since I've been critical in the past, I should say that the conference itself was much better organized than in years past. Things I liked: 1. The bookfair being in one room--this should be mandatory for any upcoming venue. 2. The thin supplement that I could carry to find tables and panels, instead of having to lug that heavy catalogue. 3. The bag. Sure, I didn't use it at the bookfair, but I also didn't leave it in my hotel room like I did last year.

I only walked out of one panel for suckiness. Technically I walked out of two, but the second (Johannes' & Jenny Boully's immigrant poetry panel) was because I had a coughing fit. I got some tea and returned for the end.

As for Denver, I liked the city itself, the people were really cool, but could not hack the altitude, or the dry air. Maybe I couldn't hack being so close to heaven, breathing in all that spirit. I took very good care of myself, I drank lots of water, ate regularly, drank little alcohol, slept a lot. And I was still sick the entire time, getting worse everyday, my legs covered in rashes, continually coughing up blood, nose bleeds--my voice weakening. As I sit here in San Francisco I already feel a thousand times better and that's coming straight off an airplane.

I'm sorry, but if you're ever having a wedding or party in Denver, don't bother inviting me, cause I'm not coming.

That's what kind of dampened my experience. I couldn't really communicate, at least not to the level that I usually do. It hurt to talk. So if you met me and was disappointed or thought I was abrupt or dismissive, my apologies. It was not my best game.

By noon on Saturday I completely lost my voice, didn't try to meet up with anyone for lunch, instead went to my room, ordered room service and sulked for a couple hours until I went Barbara Jane & Oscar's panel on poetry communities.

That said, I feel remarkably not depressed like I usually do after AWP. I appreciated the mellowness of this one. Very little drama--aside from the car accident that I was in on Thursday night. Major judgement lapse. Instead of calling a cab after the Cooper Dillon/Bloof/Noemi reading, I clown-carred it with 6 other poets. I sat on Jill's lap. We were all gigging how we haven't piled into a car like this since high school. Then we got hit by an airport shuttle. Slow speed. The car was damaged, but we were all fine.

I prayed a lot at AWP. I prayed for my voice for the Meadowlark reading. Thursday night I prayed gratitude that my dumb asssness didn't lead me into any serious harm. I mean, can you imagine if THAT was how I died? Like a god damn, idiot high schooler?

I'd never forgive myself.


  1. Hi Reb, so good to finally meet you. Thanks for coming to the panel, and for the swag! Good stuff, all around.

  2. I also noticed the dryness of the air, and definitely felt the altitude. Weird, I've been in Albuquerque a couple of times in recent years, which is a little higher than Denver, and (theoretically) should be dryer, being in the desert, though the air there hasn't felt as dry.

    Mostly I just noticed in Denver that I was getting sleepy/nappish in the early evenings, probably due to lack of oxygen in the Martian-like atmosphere. (Minneapolis, where I live, is about 900 feet above sea level, lowlands compared to Denver.)

    I haven't checked the facts on this, though instinctively I'm thinking the thinner air would mean alcohol, even a small amount, would hit harder than at a lower altitude/thicker air.

    But enjoyed the conference apart from that, all the stuff you said. In general it just seemed like an easier amble, with wider brighter spaces. And there was always someplace handy to sit down between events.

    (Car accident sounds **scary** -- so glad all were okay.)

  3. Barbara Jane, it was good to finally meet you too! It was a good panel.

    Lyle, thanks, yes, the altitude is supposed to make alcohol hit harder, one of the reason I drank only a little.