By Simmons Buntin


The Fen

The Fen, near the Shattuck Visitor Center, home to this evening’s, Hawk & Handsaw, and Ecotone literary reading.

The last time I spent time at a Starbucks in a distant city, a man came in screaming that he had been stabbed (and in fact he had). If I’ve noticed one thing about Boston so far, at least around the convention center, is that there is a Starbucks approximately every 200 yards—and a Dunkin Donuts every 300. No stabbings so far.

Still, we’ve had our excitement, so let’s get to it:

Biggest AWP Pain

Beginning with finding the table at R18 up on the 2nd floor of the Hynes Convention Center. I registered early so I could have the afternoon to set up the table. Good thing, because the table location was horrible. It was placed about a yard away from a mammoth square column that makes it nearly impossible to stop and talk in front of the table, let alone project against a screen as we do for our online journal.

Fortunately, AWP’s director of the conference, Cynthia, was cordial and quick in scouting out another space for me, and now we’re at a much better Q4. Truly, Cynthia went above and beyond, and I thank her for having that flexibility (and for whomever was at Q4 but canceled recently!).

Biggest AWP Pleasure

There seems to be a particularly strong bond between the editors, writers, and readers of place-based publications. Of course I’m biased there as editor-in-chief of, but I must admit my favorite part of AWP is connecting with those other editors and writers, and we did just that last night at Orion magazine’s gathering at Somerlin’s Orleans, followed by pizza at Bowling & Flatbread. No bowling, but plenty of good company, including some of my favorite peoples: Chip Blake, Jennifer Sahn, Hannah Fries, Erik Hoffner, and the rest of the crew. Orion has long been a model for, and it starts with the careful attention the editors pay to submissions and magazine design. Is there a lovelier print periodical out there—either in design or content? Not that I’ve seen. Go check them out, eh?

Best Character

Tough call, this. But I give the award to Chris Dombrowski, poet, fly-fisherman, all-around good guy who’s a regular contributor and a real hoot.

What I Learned About Boston Today

There are retail store-lined tunnels (underground shopping malls, really) threaded throughout downtown Boston, allowing us to walk from the Westin to the Hynes Convention Center (by way of Prudential Tower, or beneath it) without going outside. Blasphemy! Except in rain, snow, and sleet, which we’re expecting today. So now, you know, I think it’s not such a bad idea…

What I Look Forward to Later Today

Our joint literary reading with Ecotone and Hawk & Handsaw is this evening, 7 p.m., at the Shattuck Visitor Center (Emerald Necklace Conservancy), which I visited yesterday. It’s a tight space, but gorgeous, and I’m delighted we’re hosting our reading there. Let’s just not worry about the fire marshal’s maximum occupancy requirement, eh?

A Final Word on Beer

At Orleans on Davis Square I tried Harpoon Celtic Red, brewed in South Boston. It was a tasty amber, followed by a chili cheese dog (it being happy hour and all), followed by a Guinness. Not a bad if unexpected combo.


Header photo, those Boston tunnels (this one a bridge, too) by Simmons B. Buntin.

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