Blogging #AWP16: Nobody Walks in L.A.

By Simmons B. Buntin

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A Probable Series

Except everybody does in fact walk in L.A., at least when it comes to the Annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, where I walked and stood so much that my feet were swollen at the end of each day. It’s a cliche no doubt to refer to that Missing Persons song (actually titled “Walking in LA”), and yet ever since my sister moved out to Los Angeles from Florida when she was 16 (and I was 14), it’s stuck with me. This year — though the conference seemed to speed through faster than ever — I covered more ground than any other AWP conference I’ve attended. Or maybe I just say that every year; I mean, who can forget the tromp through the blizzard to get to Terrain.org’s reading at the Stone Gatehouse on the edge of the Fen in Boston (home of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy), or our reading at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park near Pioneer Square in Seattle, or spotting the quick red fox on the Auraria Campus in Denver as we made our way back from that gorgeous reading at the Tivoli, with the full-window view of the lights of downtown Denver behind us, giant copper vats gleaming, thanks to my friend Jake Adam York?

Point being: your geographic range is a wide one at this delightfully overwhelming conference. And the books, presses, journals, writers, and editors aren’t bad, either.

Observed at #AWP16

It’s important, I think, to give a shout out to Jessie Lendennie and Salmon Poetry here. I don’t know how they do it, but they continue to publish European, Canadian, and American writers of astounding poetic ability in beautiful books each year. I’m biased, of course — Salmon Poetry published my Riverfall in 2005 and Bloom in 2010, and Jessie continues to poke me for my next collection, bless her — but just look at Salmon’s rich catalog of poets.

At AWP this year, Salmon launched their 35th anniversary anthology, a wonderful collection of new work by Salmon writers. I was honored to participate in last night’s reading. Thank you, Jessie, for including me, for your difference-making in the world of poetry (and more), and for your friendship.

And thanks, too, to Christopher Cokinos for coordinating a reading from the delightful The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide yesterday. This field guide of poems and short prose co-edited by Eric Magrane and with illustrations by Paul Mirocha, published by the University of Arizona Press, is quite remarkable. Each bioregion deserves such an artistic and inspiring inquiry.

Overheard at #AWP16

“Don’t talk to cab drivers about Marx.” — Christopher Cokinos, providing sage advice upon hearing the story of Recommended Reads editor Paulina Jenney‘s cab ride in L.A.

Krombacher dark in glass“I’m not leaving until the last two Dum-Dums are gone.” — Simmons Buntin (me) at the Terrain.org booth as everyone around began taking down their spaces before the bookfair officially concluded. 

Best Beer

The regulars from the ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and Environment) crew, plus a few new, welcome folks, enjoyed dinner at Terroni in downtown L.A. Saturday evening. (Thanks for organizing, dear Kate!) There, I had a most flavorful and smooth beer: Krombacher Dark. Krombacher is a German schwarzbier that gets mixed reviews from the beer aficionados, but which was perfect with my savory Italian meal.

Up Next

The flight back to Tucson, following lunch in Santa Monica with my sister and her clan.



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

Photo of the Terrain.org website by Simmons B. Buntin.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.