AWP, or Association for Writers & Writing Programs, has a huge yearly conference in a rotating lineup of cities. This year it was in Seattle and I am seriously kicking myself for not finding out about it until two weeks before because I WOULD HAVE SOLD SO MANY BOTTLES OF DEAD WRITERS. OY. Oh well, I will pay more attention for next year (I heard it’s in Minneapolis).
Basically, the conference is a week of writing workshops and off-site readings with lots of booze because writers. (I would like to take this moment to quote my mother this weekend when I said I was going, “It’s good to have a little to drink to spark your creativity, but there is a line. Like Hemingway. Look what happened to him.”) My mother ladies and gentlemen.
Anywho, the conference was really expensive and we had family in town so I only got to go to the Bookfair. If you’re looking for books you’d find in Barnes and Noble, this fair isn’t for you… however, it was a paradise of indie presses, literary journals, MFA programs, and sign ups for moar writing conferences.
So here are the things I enjoyed:
These guys put an entire book on a print/t-shirt/or canvas tote of your choosing in really modern designs. So cool and not expensive! My favorites are Pride & Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and Anna Karenina. But they’re all pretty amazing. Great gift.
I’d like to eventually get an MFA and if I’m still living in the Pacific Northwest, this is the one I want to attend. It’s a low-residency program on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound about 30 miles from Seattle. They have great instructors and interesting program emphases to choose from (Children’s and YA for me). Also of note about this program: 1. it is one of the only MFAs not given by a university but of an actual writers organization and does a great job of teaching you the business of getting published; 2. you can attend the residency on the island as a trial to see if their MFA is for you. Win win.
This is a top rated workshop for people who want to take classes but not necessarily go for an MFA. Classes are held in instructors’ houses in New York City. Sounds really fun and they gave me a free tote bag so sold. I’m going to check them out the next time I’m in NYC.
I already knew about Hugo House as I take classes there (fun fact: I pass this place every day shipping your orders and I always thought it was a halfway house until I looked it up lol). If you are in the Seattle area and are a writer, this is your haven. It’s an old house named after the Seattle poet Richard Hugo. They have all sorts of classes to help you grow as a writer, supportive instructors, and lots of readings and other activities. At AWP they had a jar full of fortunes. My AWP fortune was, “When God closes a book he opens a chapbook.” #truth
Conference I signed up for: Napa Valley Writer’s Conference
Because wine. My friend was at the conference later in the day and saw my name on the sign up list and we had a laugh.
Journals I liked enough to buy and will probably submit to:
Ploughshares – this is a popular one I’d heard of. They lured me in with a free t-shirt with Edgar Allen Poe on it.
Fairy Tale Review – this is on my radar to submit to. Their latest issue is Wizard of Oz themed. They gave away a packet of “magic seeds” with every journal.
The Rumpus – they lured me in with onesies for my baby that say WRITE LIKE A MOTHER. I thought they were affiliated with McSweeney’s and I had a good talk with one of the editors. They have ties to McSweeney’s but are their own thing. I was confused because I used to volunteer at 826 Valencia and they were down the street from each other. I am going to submit some nonfiction here.
The Austin Review – this is a brand new, snazzy looking journal from super cool city I haven’t been to, Austin. They are just getting started and are really passionate. Worth a look.
Zyzzyva – I heard about this journal because Junot Diaz really likes it so I bought a copy. The editor told me the name is the last word in the dictionary and is an insect. She said that their logo is a beetle made out of typeset. Super cool! My favorite story in the latest issue is Photisms.
Rock and Sling – Ok this one is strange for me. This is a Christian journal. I am not religious (I’m what they call a bad Catholic or recovering Catholic) but it’s pretty modern and looks like it allows for different forms of spirituality. I’ve got some stories from my catechism and confirmation days as well as lots of ghost and insanely spiritual dream stories so I am a little interested in what I could create for this. The journals they had also had some really insane art.
Bitch Magazine – I’d already heard of this, a feminist magazine. I really enjoy that it’s pop culture through the lens of feminist viewpoints. I picked up their new food issue which is not at all what I thought it would be and it is even more awesome than I could have imagined. They were selling really cool mugs with famous strong ladies from history. The girl working the booth told me that her presence there had made for interesting conversations with all the people who hadn’t heard of this one lol.
The Paris Review – this is an old prestigious journal I want to submit to but won’t get into, which is fine. They were selling old journals from the 40s and 50s with names such as James Thurber and T.S. Elliott. I would have bought those but they were too expensive. I did get the latest issue, and sigh, really want to get published there.
There were literally a billion other cool things but these are the ones that caught my attention. Hoping to have a booth for Dead Writers next year.