i dont get how anyone could hate or even feel anxious about AWP. i heart AWP: you get to travel to a fun city, you get to hear / meet many poets, editors, and publishers, you get to learn many things at panels, you get discount books, you get to eat at new restaurants, you get to dance, you get drunk, you get laid--what's not to like?

AWP was crazy: rigoberto gonzalez was running around beating up haters with his cane, linh dinh was running around downtown denver taking pictures of every homeless person he could find, wanda coleman and patricia smith were running around scolding all the language poets (what would harryette mullen do?), kenneth goldsmith was running around trying to find free wi-fi, christian bok was running around singing O CANADA, and kwame dawes was running around in a t-shirt that read: "I JUST DONT GET IT!"

in many ways, AWP is just like Harriet. during my AWP, i was running around...

ok ok...i wasnt really running around cuz i was (am) still incredibly jetlagged from my trip to Guam. so i took it easy. my AWP began with the wednesday night OMNIDAWN/AHSAHTA offsite reading at the Magnolia Ballroom--where, yes, the first hour was a FREE OPEN BAR. there were about 20 readers, and since i was somewhere in the middle of alphabetical order, i was totally drunk by the time i read.

there was a big crowd...maybe more than a 100 people at its height. and they were all happy:


there was almost a throwdown when i started reading cuz the drunks and smokers in the back were getting all rowdy! a badass poetry lover in the front defended my honor and told them all to shut their traps. i heart awp.

on thursday morning, i worked the omnidawn book table. we gave away free gourmet chocolates from around the world. and all omnidawn books were 50% off....including my own! needless to say, we were busy:



after working the omnidawn table for a few hours, i went back to my hotel, ate happy hour, and spend the rest of the short night in my hotel bed. jetlag.

got up early friday morning for the panel i was on: "hybrid aesthetics and its discontents," with Arielle Greenberg, Michael Theune, Megan Volpert, and Mark Wallace. there were about 70 people in the audience. i have to say, the panel was really great--everyone was a really enthusiastic speaker and all the papers were well-thought out and crafted. best panel i've ever been on, hands down. i'll prob post my paper here on harriet later this week. oh, my paper was called "Whitewashing Hybrid Aesthetics." here's a pic:



then, i went to a panel where native/indigenous writers/editors/publishers discussed struggles and celebrations in the world of native literature. the audience & panel was a total awp who's who in native lit:


here's a description of the panel: Indigenous‐Aboriginal American Writers Caucus. (Simon Ortiz, Laura Tohe, Brandy McDougall, Gordon Henry, James Stevens) With the flourishing proportion of Indigenous writers and academics participating in AWP and teaching in affiliated programs (including endowed chairs and program directors), the present time is highly conducive to impart field related celebrations and concerns as understood by Native writers from the Americas and surrounding island nations.

apparently, there were around 30 panels/off-sites/readings that included native peoples. lots to celebrate.

when i returned to the omnidawn book table by friday afternoon, my book was sold out. rumors have it that the first printing is almost sold out...so if you havent bought your copy yet, do it now (go here)!

stayed at the table the rest of afternoon, ate happy hour, went to bed. missed all off-site craziness/hotel parties.

woke up early saturday morning and walked the bookfair. always my favorite part of AWP. got to chat with lots of editor/writer friends and drool over all the new books. i bought: mathias svalina's destruction myth (cleveland state), jennifer karmin's aaaaalice (flim forum), karen tei yamashita's circle k cycles (coffee house), wang ping's magic whip (coffee house), and brenda iijima's if not metamorphic (ahsahta), rodrigo toscano's exilio-globo-ejercito (slack buddha press), and sasha pimentel chacon's insides she swallowed (west end press). i also got octavio gonzalez' the book of ours (momotombo press). as you can see, i kept my wallet under pretty tight wraps in my pretty tight jeans (damned happy hour!).

the last panel i went to on saturday afternoon was Editing Indigenous, Editing the Americas. (Janet McAdams, Diane Glancy, Katherine Hedeen, Gordon Henry, Víctor Rodríguez‐Núñez, Susan M. Schultz) This panel brings together editors whose work focuses on writers from communities historically marginalized by American presses and publication processes, as well as the publishing world outside of the so called Americas. Presses and series represented include Salt Publishing (Earthworks Indigenous and Latin American literature in Translation), Tinfish (experimental writing from the Pacific Rim), Michigan State University Press (American Indian), University of Nebraska Press (Native Storiers).

then i went to the book signing for the most amazing anthology ever: EFFIGIES: an anthology of new indigenous writing. here's a pic of the editor & contributors:


description of the anthology:

Short description/annotation: dg nanouk okpik, Cathy Tagnak Rexford, Brandy Nalani McDougall, and Mahealani Perez-Wendt are four exceptional emerging poets. Their Pacific Rim relationship invited opportunity to publish these four chapbooks in one collected volume. Like effigy earthworks, stone, and bone carvings, the books included in this volume portray representational imagery as testimonies to the stunning spirit, landscapes, and lives from which these poets derive. A significant statement as to the changing state of the world, this collection is a rich pleasure.

Main description: It is a rare pleasure to unleash beauty upon the ever-tragic world, an exception to the plagued misfortune of greed, despair, and injury. Though elements of colonization do present certain challenges and malady to a natural world inhabited for tens of thousands of years by peoples steeped in ideologies, practical and philosophic systems, they do not overcome the lingual sensibilities and prowess of the poets representing the areas of the planet present in this text. Instead the poets overcome the intrusion.

From baleen row, razor clam edge, rabid willow ptarmigan plume, to white buds of plumeria, gardenia, lei, shaded grave of dried lauhala and graying niu, fertile Pacific essence swells these poems into hummock ice knolls, into layers and layers of white sea laps rolling, into mindfulness, consideration, climate care—belonging.

From ulu, to cane knife, where aurora’s green vein bleeds blue and tangles into indigo or green-robed mauna combs t? stalks, palms, kukui, and pines. From Barrow to Waihe’e, tethered and hammered through wild among dark branches and snared by voices, these poems harbor whale and seal oil burning to bring sustenance to a reader’s search for light and with them carry us into a seafaring world of rich embrace. Spectacular, immediate, these beaches and beeches along the shores provide a tactile relationship made immense in their stream-crafted images.

then i got to see susan schultz of tinfish press, who published my first book. if you dont know tinfish, you should cuz their catalog is so amazing (my book is the red & white one):


then i returned to the omnidawn table, gave out more free chocolate, and helped box up everything when they shut off the lights.

it was a fun, relaxing, well-paced awp for me. great to see everyone and i hope to see you again next year!



ps. if you are in seattle this thursday, come see me read with don mee choi at open books! info here

Originally Published: April 12th, 2010

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan/Guam. He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent (Hawai’i Dub Machine, 2011), and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008), from unincorporated territory [saina](Omnidawn, 2010),...