[Image above: Chicago Skyline from Umich.edu]
Tonight, thousands of writers will descend on Chicago for the annual Association for Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. Held in a different cities all over North America, the AWP Conference is massive collection of the world’s best writers, editors, writing teachers, small presses, and independent book sellers. For three days each year, these folks get together for countless panels, lectures, readings, book signings, and networking (ie. cocktail parties with free appetizers!). The whole city gets involved, and coffee shops, music clubs, and local bars offer writing-themed events to entice the influx of literati. For writers, this is basically our version of the Super Bowl. A nerdy Super Bowl with tote bags instead of helmets, and book fairs instead of Bruce Springsteen, but nonetheless, a very impressive gig.
[Images clockwise from upper right: Valzhyna Mort, Paul Muldoon, Carolyn Forche, ZZ Packer, and Art Spiegelman from AWPwriter.org]
This year’s keynote address will be given by Pulitzer-prize-winning graphic artist Art Spiegelman, and featured readers include poet Carolyn Forche, Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, Irish Pulitzer-prize-winner Paul Muldoon, and fiction writer ZZ Packer.
So, this evening, I’m off to Chicago to join the scribbling masses. I am beyond excited, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with all of you from the conference! I’ll be scoping the halls of the Hilton and the streets of downtown for some fashionable ‘Seen Style‘ candidates, so wear your ModCloth or vintage finest. If you know Chicago, maybe you could suggest some cool places for me to visit? Restaurants I shouldn’t miss? The Chicago Diner is on my list, but I’m open to any advice!
Also, if you’ll be in the Chicago area on Thursday night, check out this reading at the Hopleaf Bar. One of the off-site AWP conference readings, the ‘Three on Thursday’ event features Pittsburgh native Adam Atkinson of Open Thread, a Pittsburgh regional arts organization. I’m looking forward to seeing Pittsburgh poets represent in the Windy City!
I’ll keep you posted on the AWP…hope to see you there!