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AWP 2008 :: Some First Notes

AWP was a blast, and I’m exhausted. My *poor* students had to put up with my slacking coherence and lagging memory of what I had assigned last week and what was due today, so class lectures started with the outcome of the Superbowl, the bowl ads, and the cost of burgers and beer in New York.

As for AWP – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love it.

I know – trust me I know – it has its faults, for exhibitors working the bookfair as well as for attendees. That said, I am absolutely supercharged from my weekend of contact with some of the nicest, most generous and brilliant people in the publishing industry, education, and writing community. A bit gushing? Maybe. Heartfelt? Yes.

Four years ago, when Casey and I hit the floor at AWP, hardly anyone we talked with knew about NewPages, and those who did had to roll their eyes upward and search their mental files first. There are some folks who have supported us from start to now, and those who have jumped on board along the way. We couldn’t be what we are now without their supportive encouragement and guidance.

This year, our third year of having a table presence at the bookfair, and my first year presenting on a panel, NewPages “got alotta love” from the constant stream of people passing by. “Oh, I love you guys!” “NewPages is great!” “You’re my homepage!” (The web equivalent to being the main “homie,” I think.) What a great connection it is for us to meet our fans and supporters, whose comments about what they like and what they’d like to see made better really do help guide our work here. And, still, there were just as many folks who didn’t know us who got schooled at AWP. I hope they will follow through and stop by for visit after visit.

My favorite part of AWP was being able to walk the floor and finally meet Face2Face with all of the people I know online and via e-mail – some for the first time, some renewing connections from AWPs past. We meet and in the frenzy that is the book fair floor, we bemoan the exhibitor situation, console one another on the state of reading and publishing in this day and age, shake fists at the postal hikes that are killing the small publications, and then make plans to meet again online to work on changing the literary world. And, as we have, so we will continue. There is so much to be done on the backs of those that have gone before us, we will continue, and I can only hope the new generation of writers, so timid about claiming themselves “writers,” will join with us in our efforts and sally forth – in whatever form that may mean for us and them and the next generation while still respecting those that have passed the torch – the rolled publication lit afire.

There’s much more to be reported on our attendance at AWP – and as soon as our missing luggage makes its way here, I will sort through all the wonderful materials and magazines, books and photos I gathered. Stay posted, and I will do the same!

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