By Simmons Buntin

Let’s start today’s conference review off with a true story of an angry submitter, shall we?

Biggest AWP Pain

The publisher residing at the table next to me hales from a distant land, and he’s a nice enough fellow. He publishes authors from North America and beyond, and one such author confronted me yesterday. The conversation went something like this:

Pompous poet: “Hey, I submitted to you but you rejected my poem. Fuck you!” Arm and hand gestures followed.

Editor-in-chief: “We are quite competitive.”

Pompous poet: “Competitive my ass!” He then pulls his book off the publisher’s table, flips it to the acknowledgements at the back of the book, and shoves it in front of my face: “Look at that! All those contests I’ve won!”

Editor-in-chief: “Indeed.”

Pompous poet: “Your call for submissions said you wanted longer poems, so I wrote a 200-line poem and sent it off.”

Editor-in-chief: “You sent it off right away? Did you let it sit a bit first and give it time to consider it?”

Pompous poet: “I don’t need to do that shit. That’s a good fucking poem. You suck.”

Later in the day, the publisher asked if we’d be interested in reviewing any of their books. “Sure,” I said, “what do you suggest?”

“How about this one?” He held up the pompous poet’s book, to which I said, “Let us choose another.”

Biggest AWP Pleasure

A gorgeous day in Boston

The storm has passed and it’s a beautiful day in Boston. Won’t you join us at our AWP table on the second floor of the Hynes Convention Center?

Two: Meeting contributors I haven’t met before, whose work I absolutely love, such as Sara Loewen (whose new book I’m eager to read) and Martha Silano (check out these sizzling poems), followed by dinner at a Turkish restaurant with the regular place-based writing crew, followed by the sharing of drinks with said crew and other writerly friends, at which the pompous poet story grew to epic proportions.

Best Character

The pompous poet, of course. You should see his author photo.

Like me, however, it’s entirely possible you’ve never otherwise heard of him, though I admit that’s likely less of a statement of his poetry than a statement of just how many poets are out there. According to his book, he has won contests, after all.

What I Learned About Boston Today

The snow does eventually stop. And the area around Boston University looks pretty cool, at least from a cab. And it still looks great from the 25th floor of the Westin (to wit, the photograph to the right).

What I Look Forward to Today

It’s the last day of AWP, and other than my recovery following today, I most look forward to seeing long-time contributor, editorial board member, and friend David Rothenberg. He’ll be signing books and CDs – he’s a world-class jazz clarinetist, you know – at the table (Q4, second floor, Exhibit Hall D) from 2-3 p.m. Check out his newest project.

A Final Word on Beer

The Turkish restaurant did not serve alcoholic beverages, but they allow them to be brought in. So Andrew Gottlieb kindly ran next door and picked up a bottle of wine and a six-pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s an old standby for Westerners such as ourselves.


Header photo by Simmons B. Buntin.

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