AWP this year has been a rough pendulum of happy accidents, community building, incredible isolation amidst the clamor of nine thousand voices, and reminders (always) of how minor, marginal, and mortal I am. Such reminders are a very important thing. I am human and made human again through them.
I spoke (rather poorly, I have to say) on a panel about book reviews as part of the Constant Critic team, and attended panels on New Media, the Chapbook, and Asian American poetry.
Of the poetry events I attended, the Lambda Literary organization’s Ancestors reading of multi-ethnic trans/queer writing had the greatest sense of community and urgency in the work. The space was incredibly welcoming, generous, attentive, and everything I look for in a community. I have to credit Ahimsa for his immense human warmth and laser beam focus for bringing that event together as perfectly as he did.
I had the most fun at the Red Rover series off-site event, and was also brought to tears several times. The tears were in response to the video of Akilah Oliver reading her work: I’m still so close to the loss of my own dear one…and the incredible fragility of language, of light being projected against a wall, of the patterns of Akilah’s voice against the room–it moved me into a nameless space. Part grief, part beauty, part immense silence before the all of being. Quiet devastation at having to continue, simply.