Sunday, April 19, 2015

AWP Conference 2015!

AWP : Bonnaroo
writing : music

Except AWP is even better!

I had no idea what to expect when I booked a ticket to Minneapolis and signed up to volunteer at AWP 2015. I also had no idea that my experiences surviving summer musical festivals were going to come in handy at the largest writing conference in the country.

AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and each spring they hold their biggest bonanza - the AWP Conference! Or, as it's known in the writing world, "AWP." 

"You going to AWP this year?"
"Wouldn't miss it for the world!"

This year, it was held in the lovely literary city of Minneapolis - and it basically felt like being at the Grammy's of the writing world. Except sometimes you didn't know that someone was famous and awesome until you read their name tag and then you had an inner freakout moment.

Cutthroat Journal celebrates Joy Harjo
Ways that AWP is just like a giant music festival, but for writing:
  1. There are people sleeping on benches and in random corners of the convention center / festival grounds.
  2. People huddle around electric sockets to charge their devices.
  3. You're trapped somewhere for 4 days. Obviously, the food will be terrible and overpriced. Like at a music festival, I came prepared with the essentials: almond butter, apples, hummus, carrots, and dark chocolate.
  4. You are constantly having to choose between one cool band / panel presentation over another one happening at a different stage / conference room.
  5. You lose your friends when you go check out that sci-fi author you adore (but they hate) but then run into them serendipitously at the panel on graphic novels.
  6. You meet other people who love that obscure band/lit mag that no one else knows about.
  7. You have no shame about asking your literary/musical heroes to sign your arm.
  8. You sacrifice looking cute to wear comfortable shoes.
  9. Your favorite band/writer plays new music/shares new stuff and you pee a little in your pants.
  10. Your body and mind are exhausted after day one from all the walking between stages/conference rooms and taking in some much amazingness (inspiration overload?) and you're not sure how you're going to make it to day three.
  11. VIP parties are not as cool as you think they're going to be.
  12. Free drinks exist, if you can bear the long lines.
  13. So much drinking and excitement = the inevitable post festival/conference cold. Cue to me binging on Emergen-C.
  14. You leave the conference/festival feeling like you never want to hear live music/read a book again -- but you're also mega inspired to go out there and get your creativity on!
Roxane Gay reading at the Literary Loft
So why is AWP even better than Bonnaroo, the biggest music festival in America? Well, AWP is like seeing your favorite band, and then getting to hear them talk about how they write music, why they write music, what they're working on right now, what they think about dolphins, etc. 

Here's a photo of the keynote speaker, Karen Russell, and a dolphin.

But hands down, my most favorite AWP moment had to be this one:
Joy Harjo on the sax!

Next year, it'll be in L.A. and you can be sure I'll be there, Emergen-C in hand.