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AWP Writer’s Conference 2008

It is that time again. The upcoming AWP Writer’s Conference will be held in New York City, NY, next year. I hope to go to the conference, since I have not been to a writer’s conference, other than the one-day conference in Bethesda, MD, at the Writer’s Center.

I’m excited about the New York City Conference because Yosef Komunyaka, Bruce Weigl, Joyce Carol Oates, Billy Collins, Frank McCourt, Robert Pinsky, Ha Jin, and John Irving, among others will be there. Poets and writers I just love. Listening to their wisdom and possibly meeting them would be a great bonus. Mostly, I just want to see what these conferences are like for myself and determine if they are even worth the money.

While everyone I have talked to says the AWP conference is good and bad, many do not regret going at least the one time they went. The brochure I received yesterday has information about possible discounts on hotel rates and airfare. I will have to call and see how discounted those rates actually are, considering I’m one of the more poor writers in the world. I also have to account for the AWP conference registration, which is quite hefty.

It would be great to go with a fellow writer to the conference, but all of us seem to be really poor at the moment.

Unfinished Business

No, not Poetry magazine again. This time a poem from Issue 44 of Columbia–a Journal of Literature and Art caught my attention. “A Death in the Snow” by Julianne Buchsbaum reminded me of all the to-do lists I have lying around, which may or may not get finished in my lifetime. Not only will these lists possibly live on without me, but I will also not be attached to them in any meaningful way after I have passed. “my list of things to do, leave it lying//in the snow like an old book/” I suppose I could put my name on these lists before I die, but what would that accomplish, except to raise more questions with the person finding them.

While the discoverer could simply shrug off questions as unanswerable, they could also be consumed with a compulsion to find the answers. Would I want to be responsible for that kind of obsession? Would I really incite that kind of devotion in another human being? Those too are unanswerable questions.

Instead, this poem forces me to take an introspective look at the reasons I make these lists. Do I make them simply because I cannot remember all that I want to accomplish or is it that I am too afraid to actually take the plunge and do some of the items on these lists? Right now, this poem unleashes an urge within me to burn, shred, and otherwise to destroy these lists so they can never be connected to me. I would rather everyone coming after I have passed to simply remember “Epitaphs covered with mold,/” A bit morbid I’m sure, but true. When we pass, unless someone cares for our graves throughout eternity, they will indeed be overgrown by nature, making the cycle complete.