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AWP: The Final Post

The week after AWP is a time to reflect. A moment to catch you breath, detox, and assess a convention unlike any other in the literary world.

Like many of us, you are still probably trying to digest the awesomeness that was Dana Spiotta and Don DeLillo reading from their first novels, or the bewitchment that occurs when Ann Carson does anything. Riffling through your newly acquired 15 tote bags, perhaps you feel overwhelmed by just how many awesome new journals you discovered, their covers speaking to you over the cries of your partner who can’t believe you spent another $100 on “important snapshots of our age.” Or maybe you are still bemoaning the fact that you didn’t get the chance to track down an editor who has championed your work, or conversely, are still steaming from the fact that said editor referenced a story about chickens when talking with you, even though your novel concerns a dystopian genocide.

Did you have an awkward encounter you now regret? Don’t fear, that’s the AWP version of a tramp stamp. If you are an editor/publisher/teacher/guru who drunkenly articulated the power you hold over people while downing Fireballs in the hotel lobby, an apologetic note with a funny video that further explains your behavior will go along way in smoothing things over.

If you are a disgruntled writer/ex-intern who cornered an editor/publisher/teacher/guru and dispensed with a diatribe about how you are overflowing with so much freaking talent that, should it somehow all come out at once, it would flood Boston like it was 1919, then congratulations, you are officially “that AWP guy” (never in the history of AWP has this award been given to a woman). Like your brothers before you, may you take your talents to network television.

The one universal topic of conversation in Boston (besides the hotel bar’s decision to sex things up with a velvet rope and a wait list) seemed to be the annual VIDA numbers that were announced just prior to the conference. For those of you who don’t know (shame!), VIDA is an organization that “seeks to explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women through meaningful conversation and the exchange of ideas among existing and emerging literary communities.” As part of their commitment to exploring gender equality in publishing, they regularly report on the amount of male/female writers that appear in specific print journals. During the course of the weekend, Tin House received a lot of love for their VIDA pie chart, which displayed an across-the-board commitment to publishing great authors no matter their sex.

Like any good AWP reflection, we bask in the glow of our successes and look forward to ways in which we can improve ourselves post-conference. Case in point, our karaoke gender numbers. Here’s a look at our playlist from our most recent reader party.

Title Artist
Pony Ginuwine
Laid James
Come A Little Bit Closer Jay & The Americans
It Wasn’t Me Shaggy & Ricardo “Rikrok” Ducent
Semi-Charmed Life Third Eye Blind
Long December, A Counting Crows
Boys Of Summer, The Henley, Don
Badfish Sublime
Stay (I Missed You) Loeb, Lisa & The Nine Stories
Bitch Brooks, Meredith
Rocket Man John, Elton
Honky Tonk Women Rolling Stones, The
Angel From Montgomery Prine, John
Something To Talk About Raitt, Bonnie
Part Of Your World Little Mermaid, The
Whatever You Like T.I.
These Are The Days 10,000 Maniacs
Kiss Prince
Caravan Morrison, Van
I Am Woman Reddy, Helen
Ignition Remix Kelly, R.
Bizarre Love Triangle New Order
Holiday Madonna
Eight Days A Week Beatles, The
Total Eclipse Of The Heart Tyler, Bonnie
Like A Prayer Madonna
Landslide Fleetwood Mac
It’s The End Of The World R.E.M.
Common People Pulp
Up On Cripple Creek Band
Hungry Heart Springsteen, Bruce
Red Red Wine UB40
Add It Up Violent Femmes
This Charming Man Smiths, The
You’re So Vain Simon, Carly
Modern Love Bowie, David
Burning Down The House Talking Heads, The
Son Of A Preacher Man Springfield, Dusty
Fight The Power Public Enemy
Mr. Jones Counting Crows


That’s 28 male artists to 12 female artists (though it could be argued that Adam Duritz has the soul of a siren).

I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter how successful or disastrous your AWP experience was, it is important to remember that one weekend does not make for a career. Unless you’re “that guy.”

Lance Cleland is the director of the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop. He sings a mean Dusty Springfield. 

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Comments: 3

(678) Comments

  1. Emma says:

    Mr. Director, start practicing.

  2. Lance Cleland says:

    The Director.

  3. Emma says:

    Who stepped up to the plate for “Come a Little Bit Closer”? He or she and I will be dueting this summer.

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