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Assistant Professor, William Paterson University of New Jersey, United States

Sunday, April 11, 2010

AWP Post Mortem


Left Denver less than inspired by the panels and more than inspired by the people (one exception: The Networked Poetry Classroom (Chris Hosea, Eric Baus, Dorothea Lasky, Mathias Svalina, Michelle Taransky). Much useful and applicable tips on using computers and digital media in the creative writing classroom.

PEOPLE AND PRESSES:

My generation of poets and small press innovators continue to wow me with their generosity, independence, brilliance. What an amazing "class." If you happen upon this blog and haven't heard of the following small presses, I definitely recommend: the new Birds, LLC, Brave Men Press, Forklift Ohio, Flying Guillotine, Slash Pine, Black Ocean, Octopus, Letter Machine Editions, Immaculate Disciples, Coconut, Cannibal, No Tell Motel, DoubleCrossed Press, Harp & Altar, Factory Hollow, Horse Less Press, Sixth Finch, Sir, Ahsahta, Rope-a-Dope press, and the list goes on. Solid citizens, these people. I was glad to meet those I hadn't yet. And to see their books, many of which are handmade, hand-bound--some even sewing books right there at their tables. Awesomeness of the highest degree.

And, of course, on a personal note, my Mississippi Review Poetry Series editors and advisory board folks were the sweetest people and best promotors I could ask for. So nice to finally meet them.

PANELS:

Admittedly, I only attended 5 or 6 panels. But, why do so many panels promise in their descriptions to assert some NEW way or approach to a stagnancy only to spend the entire time just pointing to that stagnancy? Enough punting already.

I'm as career-conscious as the next guy, but let's actually break new ground.

If we're lucky enough to get our Art of the Blurb panel accepted for next year's DC AWP, you better believe that we will move the discussion forward.

Anyway, the theme from the half-dozen panels I attended, coupled with several of those whose descriptions I glossed in the catalogue, seemed to add up to one overarching message:

We're now in a time of fragmentation, hyperactivity, and, well, suck. A dearth of good work (both primary and critical) coupled with a wealth of new. That there has been (another) "wrong turning," or general degradation of something worth preserving seemed to be the backdrop of many a panel. And, as usual, folks are suspect of the new modes and sensibilities. I understand some of this...

However, one look at the poems, titles, editions of many of the entities I've named above and I think it's fair to say the opposite is probably true of new poetry. I brought home a dozen new titles from many of the above presses, and I'll be digging in directly.

4 comments:

Rob MacDonald said...

Hallelujah! The people who are bored and/or disappointed in the current state of poetry aren't reading the right stuff. I guess that people who are using Rolling Stone as their source for new bands are probably unhappy with the current state of music, too, right? Thanks for the plug, and thanks for the work that you're doing over at So and So.

christopher salerno said...

Yeah, Rob. You're dead right about the sources. And I like the Poundian deal: "The age demanded an image for its accelerated grimace..." There are folks writing our time and life and sensibility, and most readers don't get to see that, which is sad.

Christopher said...

I came away with the same feeling. I walked out on half the panels I attended because I didn't feel anyone was saying anything new. The Indie Mags panel was good words, and the Justin Taylor/Kevin Sampsell reading was possibly the best on-site reading I saw all week. I would have been bummed had I not met so many amazing people doing amazing things.

Our mutual friend, Emily A., told me you were at AWP, but I didn't know how to find you and didn't have internet access to email you.

I like that you want to push, advance, gain ground. If you panel gets approved and I make it to D.C. next year, I'll check it out.

christopher salerno said...

Christopher:

Good to meet you here, even if we missed each other in Denver. And thanks for the encouragement. Sounds like a missed some good readings/panels (which I am I sure I did). I love HTML Giant, and so I would have liked to see Justin Taylor's reading. Who knows what I was into. Probably (to your last point) hanging with some of the great folks I got to meet while there. Too bad we missed each other.