Follow Harriet on Twitter

About Harriet


Poetry News

The Stranger’s Insider Tips for an Amusing AWP + Their Staff Picks for Offsite Readings

By Harriet Staff


Great tips from The Stranger’s Peter Mountford, for those who lack social graces!

If you notice a slight uptick in the number of verbose, bedraggled, and socially inept people in downtown [Seattle] and Capitol Hill this week, it’s because about 13,000 aspiring and no-longer-aspiring writers are collecting at the convention center for the 2014 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference (February 26–March 1). As someone with an MFA degree (Master of Fuck All), and an attendee of most of the last decade’s AWPs, I’m here to tell you that this should be fun if you like reading and writing. Actually, even if you don’t care about reading and writing, it should be at least amusing.


So where’s the action?

The hotel bars closest to the conference center will be a constant seething humid throng of acne-afflicted nerds with low-grade alcoholism. These bars are the main attraction for most.

Off-site events are listed on the AWP website and The Stranger’s readings calendar, and there are scores of these. At their best, off-site events are fucked-up, inspiring, and brilliant (see page 17 for prospects). At their worst, you walk out with only minor injuries to your opinion of the human animal. Either way, they’re free. Sometimes it might feel like the Mardi Gras of literary nerds, which is annoying, but you’re less likely to have a jock vomit into your hair than at the actual Mardi Gras.


I want to bag a writer, any advice?

No problem!

Recite Matthew Dickman’s poem “Slow Dance” into the ear of a poet, and you will end up with a hickey on your neck (even before you get to the chandelier part!). Also: Be kind to poets, they’ve made peculiar life decisions, and bear in mind that these people are inexplicably excellent in bed.

Quote Lorrie Moore to a fiction writer, and you’ll end up pregnant. Please for God’s sake do not ask a fiction writer if you can find their books in a store. You can’t. These people are crumpled, spiritually, by rejection, even the ones who are doing well. Alternatively, if you’d like to see this person weep, tell them your writer friend says her promotional tours are grueling—her publisher flies her from city to city for weeks on end. Ask if they also find this exhausting.

You don’t want to have sex with a writer of creative nonfiction. Unless it’s Samantha Irby (author of Meaty and the blog bitches gotta eat), who’s probably not going to be at AWP anyway.

Read more insider tips, including how to spot “Useful Stereotypes,” at The Stranger. Speaking of offsite readings, the paper is also useful: They plucked the following awesome events so conscientiously–HOW CAN WE GO TO A LITTLE BIT OF EVERY ONE?!

Staff Pick
Institute of American Indian Arts MFA Faculty AWP Event

Thurs Feb 27, 4–6 pm.
Teachers from the Institute of American Indian Arts’ new Low Residency MFA Program read new work. One of these readers is Sherwin Bitsui, who gave a great poetry reading at Elliott Bay Book Company a few years back. Other readers include Natalie Diaz, Melissa Febos, Susan Power, and Ken White. Free.
Hugo House
1634 11th Ave

Staff Pick
Brooklyn Arts Press, Green Lantern Press, MAKE AWP Event

Thurs Feb 27, 5–7 pm.
Local novelist and poet Carol Guess headlines a lineup of “innovative poets, translators, and essayists,” who are encouraged to read their best music-themed work. This reading also features $2 tacos and Tecates. If this were taking place on a Tuesday, I’d call it the Taco Tuesday reading. But it’s not Tuesday, so I’ll shut the fuck up now. Free.
Moe Bar
925 E Pike St

Staff Pick
Copper Canyon AWP Event

Thurs Feb 27 at 6 pm.
Cave Canem supports great black poets. Sherman Alexie has called Copper Canyon the greatest publisher of poetry in America today. The Sorrento is a lovely backdrop for a reading. This event features Mark Bibbins, Jericho Brown, Cyrus Cassells, Natalie Diaz, Fady Joudah, Deborah Landau, Lisa Olstein, and Roger Reeves. Free.
Sorrento Hotel
900 Madison St

Staff Pick
St. Mary’s College of CA AWP Event

Thurs Feb 27, 6–8 pm.
St. Mary’s faculty read new and new-ish work, including Jason Bayani, Kevin Finley, Erin McCabe, Rusty Morrison, Sara Mumolo and Matthew Zapruder. The only one of these poets I’ve seen read before is Zapruder, who is excellent and who has a new book coming out from Copper Canyon this year that I’m excited to read. Free.
Hugo House
1634 11th Ave

Staff Pick
A Strange Object AWP Event

Thurs Feb 27 at 6 pm.
Four excellent publishers and/or literary magazines—A Strange Object, Electric Literature, Guernica, and the Paris Review—cohost a happy hour. There will be $3 cocktails from six to seven and $4 well drinks all night. Free.
Linda’s Tavern
707 E Pine St

Staff Pick
Wave Books AWP Off-Site Reading

Thurs Feb 27 at 6 pm.
Mary Ruefle, Joshua Beckman, Cedar Sigo, Garrett Caples, and Eileen Myles take the stage at ACT Theatre. Myles alone would make this a must-see. Free.
ACT Theatre
700 E Union St

Tags: , ,
Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, February 27th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.