Blogging #AWP16: Day 2

By Simmons B. Buntin

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A Probable Series


Yesterday marked the first full day of the booth (510) at the bookfair of the Annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference. We have broadsides by Wendell Berry and Alison Hawthorne Deming to order, chocolate, Dum Dums, flyers, stickers, info about our top-notch journal, and middle-aged editors who are noticing not quite as much energy to stand the full day as we used to have,. But there are young, energetic editors, as well, so stop by!

Observed at #AWP16

Camille Dungy, dear, I repeat again: You look fabulous in those purple-framed glasses!

Chip Blake, my friend, are you aware you look a fair bit like Paul McCartney? Distinguished, sir.

We’re not only about appearances here, of course. Except so far.

Overheard at #AWP16

“Everybody’s memory is treacherous.” — Richard Shelton, before reading from his new memoir, which publishes this summer, I believe.

“I had a mouthful of teets.” — Douglas Haynes, recalling his experience eating guinea pig down in Peru, as he, poetry editor Derek Sheffield, Pacific Standard executive editor Jennifer Sahn, and I sat down to dinner at El Cholo Mexican restaurant not far from the convention center.

“What a waste of really good punctuation.” — once said by Richard Shelton to Ken Lamberton, when Dick was leading Ken’s workshop in the Arizona prison system.

Featured Panel: The Tattooed Desert, a Tribute to and Reading from Richard Shelton

Left to right: Ken Lamberton, Mark Doty, Richard Shelton, Alison Hawthorne Deming, and Naomi Shihab Nye.
Left to right: Ken Lamberton, Mark Doty, Richard Shelton, Alison Hawthorne Deming, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

In my first year of the University of Arizona’s creative writing MFA program in nonfiction, in fall of 2006, my workshop was led by the venerable Richard Shelton. It was his last semester teaching at UA, and he was grumpy and sharp and altogether perfect. So when I learned that there was a panel honoring Dick, I couldn’t miss it, and I’m glad I didn’t. It was lovely: led by the UA Poetry Center’s Tyler Meier, there were stories shared by panelists Alison Hawthorne Deming, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mark Doty, and Ken Lamberton, and Dick himself read from his new memoir, plus a couple recent poems.

Best Beer

Negra Modelo, one of my favorite beers, a Munich dunkel (technically, Vienna lager) brewed by Grupo Modelo S.A. de C.V. in Mexico since 1925. Served with the requisite slice of lime at El Cholo, whose food was tasty but to be honest doesn’t compare to the great Sonoran food of my Tucson home.

Up Next

Day two of the bookfair, where I look forward to seeing more contributors, compatriots, and readers and writers.



Simmons B. Buntin is the founding editor-in-chief of and the author of two books of poetry (Bloom and Riverfall) and Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places.

Photo of the Times Square-like JW Marriott plaza at LA Live by Simmons B. Buntin. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.