It feels like it just ended, but AWP time is fast approaching. I’ve experienced AWP as both an exhibitor and a writer. I went to the Denver conference in 2010 and the Washington DC conference in 2011 with WCSU’s undergraduate literary journal, Black & White. I was floored by all there was to do. I often describe it as trick-or-treating fro writers. I was an exhibitor (meaning we had a designated table for our journal), but I was still able to walk around and take in all the sights. Over the years, I’ve picked up hundreds of submission flyers, free literary journals, and plenty of other goodies from all the different exhibitors. I chatted with dozens of different people from across the country about our journals. Black & White set up a mailing list at our table and many of the writers who signed up did end up submitting to our journal. Two of our contributors in our 2011 issue were from outside the U.S. I am certain those connections were made all because of our time spent at AWP.
In March, I attended AWP in Boston. I wasn’t affiliated with any journal anymore. I was only there for myself. Each day, I filled up my schedule with the panels that appealed to me most—young adult writing, what to do after the MFA, and literary agent panels. It was a different experience for me this year because I wasn’t an exhibitor, but I still left the conference feeling inspired to write and create.
I always went with a group of 3-6 people. From my experience, safety in numbers is best at AWP, especially when you’re an exhibitor. We always set up a schedule so everyone could have the chance to explore the other tables and attend panels. I always got a free canvas bag at check-in for all the free things I was bound to pick up. I still have all three of my bags for each year I went—decorated with dozens of journal pins, and stuffed with literary journals and submission flyers.
You know how a lot of us feel inspired to work on our craft after a residency week? Think of that times ten, except you’re not geared up to submit papers to your professors. You’re ready to submit your work to publications. 🙂