AWP Chicago

I’m back to my writing desk. Woke up with the Vermont sun on glare snow, longing for the 9,999 writers who occupied my landscape the past 5 days. Some old friends. Some new friends. Some friends to save for another time.

Here are just a few of the many highlights…

Best Tourist Move

A brief visit to the Art Institute left me in awe of the collection of great works housed in this beautiful lakeside building. I can’t wait to spend more time basking in visual desserts during my Midwest road trip planned for this upcoming summer.

Favorite MFA Program

VCFA sponsored events during which current students and alum gathered to read, refresh, and recreate in celebration of  our community of writers.

Later on Friday night, we expressed our devotion to esteemed faculty and editor of Numero Cinq, Douglas Glover, as he  launched his new book of essays on writing. This collection contains the invaluable wisdom on crafting the written arts.

New Journals Acquired

Visiting tables at the Book Fair is an activity that I can withstand for increments of up to 30 minutes before it feels like I’m in the film Inception. Pictures below are the new journals I am excited to peruse when my feet next have the chance to perch on the ottoman before my comfy chair. I reserve evening time for journal reads.

Book Fair Highlights

I finally got to shake hands with Sybil Baker whose linked story collection, Talismans, inspired my graduating lecture and won me my first published review at Contrary Magazine. Her new novel, Into This World, will come out by Engine Books, where the smart and lovely Victoria Barret offers specials through her book club. Visit Engine Books on-line if you missed them at the conference.

Handmade Book Totes by Jeanne Genis

Other boons: I won a beautifully hand-crafted bookbag and free issue of Specs, met the men (Chad and Ryan) from C&R Press, spoke with fiction editors from a variety of journals in the photo above, ate free candy, and hung out with the staff from New Pages, a hot website that’s everything literary and where you can read my monthly book reviews.

Panel Discussions

There were too many wonderful panels to recount in detail, but let’s just say I learned about the use of humor, violence, surprises, and place in stories.

Now for Chicago’s Best…

Best Breakfast: Yolk

Best Window Display

Best Bar: The Empty Bottle

Where I finally met, in person, Anna March, the illustrious author of Aural Fixations.

Graffiti on the "ladies" room wall.

In the Magic Mirror by Paul Klee

Best Portrait of How I Felt When I Got Home


13 thoughts on “AWP Chicago

    • Hi Darrelyn! Thanks for visiting my blog. I think we have more than one mutual friend, so I’ve heard a lot about you. Sounds like you have a memoir coming out in the fall, so maybe I’ll see you next year in Boston next to a stack of books on a table at the book fair. It really is an astonishing event!

  1. Jodi, Thanks. It was lovely to see you at the book party. I was really touched at the number of old and new friends who showed up. Some people I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. It was a great AWP conference. Doug

  2. Fully agree on Yolk, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the VCFA events! As for the Bookfair, I somehow managed to bring back about 30 journals and books (including Glover’s, and one by Robin Hemley). AWP Lesson: Books are heavy.

  3. I saw you eating at the counter at Yolk. You were fully engaged in conversation, so I did not interrupt. : )
    My strategy for AWP journal collections was to leave behind thrift store clothing I bought and wore to the event and fill my one small carry-on with journals and books. I did end up with more than I pictured on the blog. Next year, I’ll drive to Boston and, frankly, it scares me.

    • The toss-away clothing is a good one. I’ve done that on business trips, giving a dress shirt one last run, hiding its fatigue behind a jacket.

      You must have seen me talking with my 16-year-old daughter Sunday! She flew out Saturday so we could tour the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (on her possible college list), and after breakfast Sunday we went to the museum itself. You could probably tell by her blue hair she’s an artist!

      • My girl has pink and white stripes on the un-shaved half of her head. I started the Chicago experience with the museum, which was a good choice.

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