Monday, February 7, 2011

AWP finale

One of several busy rooms at the
AWP bookfair. MFA programs
and small pressed abounded.
The Super Bowl snuck up on me, as I was still hanging out with writers at AWP. Conversation at the Wardman Marriott leaned more toward parataxis than playbooks. I managed to explore the bookfair on Saturday and sit in on a panel (Leaping Prose: Alternative Shapes for Approaching the Novel with Peter Grandbois, Carol Moldaw, Kazim Ali, and Carole Maso) where, ahem, I learned the work parataxis.

Having been absent from academic speak for quite some time, twas an enjoyable place to visit. Hearing master craftsmen consider the complications of their work inspires.

Reconnecting with my own literary community, friends and mentors, fired me up more than any panel. I've already written with or about Neil de la Flor here and here, so I'll just add, really, you should buy his book, Almost Dorothy.  And you shouldn't let him near plastic frogs on your dashboard.  But I also got to connect with a few other people.

On Friday, I saw A. Manette Ansay at the UM MFA happy hour at Tryst. She's published six novels, a memoir and a collection of short stories, all of which you should also buy. Limbo, Blue Water and Sister are my favorites. As far as I know, she's safe around dashboard frogs. And her daughter is adorable. 

Me & Manette
During my time in Miami, she read many, many versions of the godawful novella that was my thesis and commented with insight, warmth, wit and enormous patience. Just last month, in a grand fit of organizing papers (reshuffling), I found myself re-reading her comments. Most notably, she understood central elements of the plot well before I consciously put them together, busy as I was writing my way up and down tangential alleys.
Andrew

Also at Tryst, I got to see friend Andrew, who is hard at work at his first year of his MFA at Ohio State in Columbus. While it is not at all my doing, I feel an unjustified stake in his career as I wrote a recommendation for him for grad school. I don't think it was even for OSU. But in any case, I have exchanged stories with him, commented on his work and receive his insights into mine, so when he hits the bestseller list, I'll be able to say I knew him back when.

A good week of writing and friendship for me, although sadly, just at the moment, I'm succumbing to the halo of germs that surrounds conferences and am now scaring the cats with my sneezes. 

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