As far as I can tell (apologies if I missed somebody), I am the ONLY current Harriet blogger not to have been at AWP in NY. What did I miss? Was there a secret meeting of Harrieteers? What did go on at all those parties? What was the most fabulous reading I missed?
So here's a post for everyone who WASN'T there. What are your excuses? Your reasons?
The only AWP I've been to is the one held in Atlanta in the 90s--it helped that I lived in Atlanta (definitely couldn't have afforded to fly anywhere then, when I was a half-time secretary at George State), and I got a pass because Jeffrey McDaniel (a former Harriet blogger) put me on the roster for a Spoken Word event. The converence wasn't nearly on the scale it was today. And I didn't really know anybody except for the Atlanta locals I saw pretty often anyway. I remember feeling uneasy in the audience of a panel discussion on Humor when I suddenly realized it wasn't going to be funny. (And none of the poetry discussed rhymed either, which, for a humor panel, seemed a little on the obtuse side--but that's just my hobby horse.)
I meant to go to Atlanta last year--since I could combine that with visiting family, and I had a new book out. But I couldn't make it happen.
This year, I also fully intended to go. But I didn't. Is the truth perhaps that I have mixed feelings about going to a Poets' Convention? (OK, there are fiction writers too I imagine--why does it strike me as such a Poetry event? Maybe fiction writers don't need conventions in the same way, since they have agents.) Is the truth perhaps that some part of me resists? Sure, I would have seen lots of friends, got lots of books, made new friends, met people I admired, maybe been inspired. Reginald talks about feeling isolated in Pensacola--I also feel isolated in a different way in Athens, Greece. So maybe the whole thing would have been a wonderful boost and confirmation. But I also feel a bit queasy about the whole idea. And I think the truth is a lot of us do. Some of us have to go--especially if we teach. But most of us deep down have mixed feelings, don't we? Isn't it OK to fess up to this?
Here are some of my reasons for not going. What are yours?:
*Er, I live in Greece
*Flying makes me panic
*I had nowhere to stay
*Crowds make me panic
*How Public--like a Frog!
*Too much talk about poetry drowns out my Muse
*Drowning muses make me panic
*I too dislike it
*Meeting lots of successful poets makes me envious
*Envy makes me panic
*At my back I always hear the Great Dead Poets laugh and sneer...
*Maybe I am cultivating status as an Outsider, though obviously by being on this blog I am somehow really an Insider? Hmmm. (Must think about this one.)
*I had nothing to wear
*I'd rather glide out and look up in perfect silence at the stars
*MY PANEL WAS CANCELLED!!
A. E. (Alicia) Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and has lived since 1999 in Athens, Greece. She has published three books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award; Hapax (2000); and Olives (2012). Her new verse translation of Lucretius (in rhyming fourteeners!), The Nature of Things,...