or: What Showing Up As Part of a Literary Community Looks Like
AWP: Boston, March 2013 (brrr!)
That time I shared a gorgeous townhouse in Boston with some of my MFA cohort and wore bunny ears so I’d be easy to find, and because…well, fuck, seriously? Bunny ears!
- The VIDA prom.
- Truck loads of indie publishers, but every time I stopped by Soft Skull (publishers of the most recent anthology) to say hi, no one was there.
- Everything from the very practical: “Landing the Tenure-Track Job without a Book;”
- to the personally useful: “The Unreliable Narrator in Creative Nonfiction;”
- to community building: “Being a Good Literary Citizen” (with the fabulous Rob Spillman) and social justice: “Teaching Creative Writing to Teens Outside of the Classroom;”
- to the bars and dinners and schmooze-fests where my bunny ears were eclipsed by someone in full gladiator regalia I
hope assume had a book about to launch.
- and then, worth the cost of admission: “my two Stevphens” Stephen Elliott and Steve Almond on cobbling together a living and a life while writing work that matters.
AWP is in a different city each year. Huge, overwhelming and a little like trying to see all of Disneyworld in a day and it’s possible my bunny ears will make an appearance in DC come February 2017.
Brooklyn Book Festival : Brooklyn, September 2014, free!!
Roz Chast (if you are over 40 and have parents, I encourage you to read this) and Robert Mankoff (the only person who understands ALL of the New Yorker cartoons). Darcey Steinke whose Suicide Blonde changed my writing life (and I fell off my chair when I realized she followed me on Twitter which meant I got to accost her and say hi and pretend we were old friends while I sat in front of boypoet Michael Klein [hosannas all around to Lesley University’s poet Steven Cramer for introducing me to that voice and those words] chatting him up and soaking it all in).
Bindercon Symposium : NYC, October 2014 – the debut conference!
One of the unintentional results of Mitt Romney’s mouthful about “binders full of women”? Bindercon – a professional symposium for women and gender-nonconforming writers that has since gone bicoastal and digital. I spent two days surrounded by them and made more new writer friends I’d never have met otherwise! I was at one of the first planning meetings, but the final product they produced was something so much bigger than I could have imagined. Thanks Mitt (and major props and thanks to Leigh and Lux).
Slice Literary Conference : Brooklyn, September 2014
I love Dani Shapiro. I love that going to see Dani on a panel I found Darin Strauss and his memoir, Half a Life, both brilliant and devastating.
Poets & Writers Live : NYC, June 2014
The day started off with poet Rich Villar. It ended with poet Frank Bidart. And of course all those authors and agents in conversation between the hours of 9am and 7pm. I don’t think of myself as a poetry reader. Apparently, however, I am a sucker for poets because there are poets all over this post.
The Aspen New York Book Series presents ‘The Art of the Memoir’: NYC, November 2015
Since I was already in love with Dani Shapiro and had recently fallen in love with Darrin Strauss, and was following them both on Twitter, I heard about this, and got to hear them in conversation, up close and personal, with Vivian Gornick who (and I apologize profusely, Vivian, if by chance you ever read this) is such an icon in the writing community, I assumed she was dead. She is not. She is very much alive and a fucking pistol and not only would I be happy to look like her at 81, I’d be happy to look that good period. Don’t believe me? Watch the whole thing here (and realize that even educated people pronounce “to” as “tuh” and we should just let it go).
Woodstock Writer’s Festival: Woodstock, April 2016
Staying at a sweet inn on a babbling brook recommended by a man I’d crushed on for years and never met. And where I finally met that man and we babbled through a three-hour dinner. I made one more new friend, discovered Jamie Brickhouse, came home having spent $200 more on books, and hit fabulous panels on writing on (and in) recovery, spirituality, and met (and frightened) my grammar-geek icon, Mary Norris. I left more than slightly in love with John Elder Robison and excited because I had one his books on my to-read shelf waiting for me at home.
HippoCamp: Lancaster, PA, August 2016 (tk)
Which, despite its name is not a fat camp.
WORD Christchurch: New Zealand, August 2016 (tk)
Again, despite the name, to the best of my knowledge Christ will not be making an appearance.
Here’s a truncated list of writer’s conferences,
and book festivals in New York, and
yet another resource you can narrow down by area,
And some of them are free. Now what’s your excuse?