Thanks to the encouragement of Tom Hunley, I attended AWP for the first time while I was a junior at WKU. Although I will be the first to admit that it was a bit overwhelming, it also solidified my decision to apply to an MFA program. Also, I got to meet poets like Patricia Smith, Terrance Hayes, Jeannine Hall Gailey, among others. Anyway, I leave for this year’s AWP (in Chicago) on Wednesday and would like to share some tips for those of you who may be new to the AWP Hustle.
– No one bothered to tell me that you don’t have to go to every panel session. I thought it was like school. You go from one panel to another to another. Bad idea. Instead, pick a few panels that you are really interested in and don’t be afraid to take a breather now and then.
– (Most) writers are actually pretty nice. Don’t be afraid to let them know you like their work. After seeing Patricia Smith read, I talked to her in the bookfair. We’re still talking to this day.
– Be sure to go to some off-site events. Some of the best readings/gatherings take place at bookstores and bars scattered throughout the city. Don’t be afraid to explore. I noticed that off-site events tend to be a little more relaxed and, dare I say it, more fun.
– Wear good shoes. I did a lot of standing.
– Stop by the Rutgers-Newark MFA table and say hello. I will be there from time to time.