The Unbearable Lightness of AWP

Earlier this month, the Association of Writers and Publishers hosted its annual conference in Tampa, Florida.

For over 15,000 attendees, the AWP Conference & Bookfair is the literary event in America: four straight days of books, book deals, interacting with editors from Big 5 publishing houses and tiny literary magazines alike, networking, lectures, readings, and parties. For the Vermont College of Fine Arts, it was the ideal place to launch Everyday Chimeras, the latest issue of Hunger Mountain. For the students of VCFA who could attend, it was a too-brief respite from the endless winter. And for student Cammie Finch, it was an eye-opening festival of wonder—a place where everyone could geek out over writing and reading.

In a post on her personal blog, Cammie extols the joys of being surrounded by literary geeks, reflects on how AWP impacted her own goals, and shows off some cool swag. She writes:

I loved AWP. Really. Really really loved it. It’s hard to fully imagine the conference without experiencing it. But let me try my best. It’s 15,000 writers and teachers and students and editors and publishers and logophiles and bibliophiles, all geeking out over writing and reading. It’s getting the nerve to go up to the Paris Review or Guernica or [insert prestigious journal here], shake hands with the editor, and have confidence in your own work. It’s about breathing in the same room with the poets and writers you read online or follow on Twitter or whose likeness you’ve taped to the walls of your bedroom. It’s about finding a community of people who understand why you do what you do. It’s about supporting yourself and others and literature itself.

Melissa Febos and Donika Kelly (our Hunger Mountain guest editors) IN REAL LIFE!

Yes, the conference was chaotic and a total sensory overload and exhausting and the food wasn’t great and was very overpriced,  but it was worth it to work at the book fair all day long…

…so I could attend panels and craft lectures on the things that are important to me: “The Next Step: Teaching & Writing at a Literary Center“, “Work Work Balance: When a Day Job Pays More Than the Bills,” “Writing Bad Ass and Nasty Women,”  and “The Real Mother of All Bombs: Reconsidering John Hersey’s Hiroshima.

…so I could see dear writing mentors of mine again (Robert James RussellAllegra HydeAlex McElroyAmelia MartensBritton Shurley, to name a few)

…so I could leave my footprints on the dry Tampa sidewalks.

I’ve decided that I will attend AWP every year from this day forward until I can no longer travel or walk.

To read the full post, and to check out said swag, visit here.