#AWP14 Recap

Representing Superstition Review: Trish Murphy, Beth Sheets, Erin Regan, Sydni Budelier, (not pictured: Mark Haunschild and Elizabeth Hansen)

I’ve been back in Arizona for a solid 24 hours and have had time to defrost and debrief on my time at the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle. I have been reflecting on my experiences as an AWP novice and wanted to share my thoughts. Plus, spending three days with poets and writers really makes you want to scribble something down.

 When I boarded the flight to Seattle last week, I was a bag of nerves. Why was I so unprepared? How was I going to speak coherently to the brilliant minds I was about to meet? What’s my name again? I settled in my seat, repeating “Erin Regan – I’m just an undergraduate” in my head, when I realized that I was sitting next to Benjamin Saenz, an author whose work I was introduced to last year in a Chicano literature class. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t say anything, so I introduced myself and complimented his work. We ended up chatting for the rest of the flight – him sharing stories about selling his mother’s homemade burritos for cigarettes as a child and offering me advice for the conference/life, me laughing and nodding and trying to take everything in. By the time he was suggesting I nurse my cold with a cocktail of bourbon and honey and texting Sherman Alexie, my nerves were abandoned.

Since that flight, I had the opportunity to be in the same room as some of my other favorite writers, people I’ve been reading for years like Sherman Alexie, Chuck Palahnuik, Ursula Le Guin, and Gary Snyder. Yes, some of those rooms were pretty big, but that’s okay. It was magical to hear them read from their work and speak about their experiences, but even more inspiring was being in the company of thousands of writers practicing their craft with such love.

As a literature and journalism major, and an undergraduate no less, I felt a bit on the outside this weekend. I’m a stranger to the workshop process and I’m not sure where/when/if I’m getting my MFA. When people asked me what I write, I had a hard time giving them a straight answer, stumbling over my words until landing on “I try to write fiction.” On Saturday, the final day of the conference, I offered this answer to a man behind his table at the book fair. He gave me a look and asked what that meant. Flustered and inarticulate as I was at this point (come on, it was the third day of this), I shrugged. He asked me if I liked to write, and when I said yes, he said, “I dub you a fiction writer.” I will continue to write and will begin to submit my work to literary journals, but regardless of whether or I get published, this weekend has made me a much more devoted reader and supporter of the literary community. This weekend, I realized that I am a writer among writers, a member of a community that is thriving.

On Friday, I was able to witness just how strong and spirited that community is during what is becoming an infamous moment in AWP history. Past Student Editor-in-Chief Sydni Budelier and I were sitting in the aisle of a packed room for a panel titled “Magic and the Intellect.” Lucy Corin was reading an excerpt from her novel-in-progress The Swank Hotel. The piece was rich with dark and disturbing images, a stream of dead baby jokes that showed us something powerful about the nature of humanity and pain. You can read a thoughtful summary of the panel by Naomi Williams here. In the middle of Corin’s reading, a voice from the back of the room, obviously offended, interrupted her and began a rant that accused Corin of “traumatizing” her audience. While the outburst was shocking, the support for Corin in response was truly stunning. People urged her to finish the excerpt, take her time, and someone even shouted “start over!” I, and many others, had tears in our eyes as a quaking-voiced Corin finished her reading to fierce applause.

This, I believe, is what we were celebrating at the AWP Conference: the communality of writers supporting other writers, creators praising and inspiring other creators. I’m thrilled to have been able to meet so many of our own brilliant contributors at the book fair as well – thank you to everyone who stopped by our table to say hello. I’m honored to share a community with all of you.

#AWP14 is Here

Right now I’m on my way to Seattle for the annual AWP conference and bookfair, joining thousands of aspiring and inspiring writers. For me, the past two days have been consumed with packing, reviewing my schedule, making various lists, feeling really confident about my abilities as a writer/reader/social human being, and feeling really insecure about my abilities as a writer/reader/social human being. It doesn’t help that I’ve been battling a murderous cold, but at some point, it’s just time to board the plane and put on your lanyard.


Despite my suffering health, I am really stoked to be in the company of so many of my favorite writers. Hopefully I’ll get to chat with some of them when I’m working the Superstition Review table C40 at the book fair. Our team of six includes founder Trish Murphy; poetry advisor Mark Haunschild; and interns Erin Regan, Sydni Budelier, Beth Sheets, and Elizabeth Hansen. We’ll be taking shifts to man the table, where we are giving away some cool S[R] gear, so be sure to stop by.

Thanks to the handy Everypost app, we’ll also be live-reporting to all six of our social networks during the conference. We’ve already been highlighting some of our past contributors who will be appearing in panels and readings with our #sralum campaign and will continue to seek out those familiar faces. Plus, there will be six of us on the ground with our ears perked for insightful quotes and amusing remarks. I’m particularly looking forward to the #overheardatAWP updates. There will no doubt be some gems under that hashtag.

Find us here:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/superstitionreview

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+SuperstitionReview

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/superstition-review

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/superstitionrev

Tumblr: http://superstitionrev.tumblr.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuperstitionRev

What’s open on my computer right now:

Our founder Trish Murphy’s blog post is an excellent resource for newcomers or AWP veterans. She’s celebrating her 20th anniversary with AWP this year and has some seasoned advice on “top ten good AWP habits.”

This advice post by #sralum Kelli Russell Agodon is so calming and reassuring. Admittedly, I go to this page every few hours for comfort and strength.

I’m loving this tweet cheat sheet. As a somewhat inexperienced tweeter, I’m definitely keeping it on hand this weekend.

Plus, have you seen this #AWP14 bingo card by #sralum Daniel Nester? It’s definitely worth a look and a laugh.

That’s it for now.

Looking forward to seeing you in Seattle and on our networks!

Getting Ready for @AWP2014

AWP BookfairIn a few weeks, thousands of writers and editors will flock to Seattle for the annual AWP conference, and for the first time, I’ll be among them. As a newcomer, I’m overwhelmed by the thought of more than 12,000 writers rubbing shoulders at a massive bookfair and cutting loose at a nightly dance party. (AWP veterans and bloggers have already warned me about the dizzying amount of stargazing, badge-scoping, and bright tights I’ll see.) In addition to emotionally readying myself for the apparent madness that is AWP, I’ve been making these preparations.

1. Planning my schedule

I love how easy it is to create a schedule on the AWP website. It was so user-friendly and easy, in fact, that I just kept adding. The next step was narrowing down my selections from four or five panels per session to one or two. After spending a few hours staring at “delete from my schedule” buttons and agonizing over which panel to choose, I realized that once I get to Seattle, my meticulous schedule might be for naught. For now, it’s a helpful way to see who will be presenting, decide who I absolutely must see, and envision how I’ll spend the conference. And my conclusion? It looks like I’ll be running from one panel to the next

2. Doing my research

I realize that it’s impossible to research everyone on every panel I’m attending. However, I am trying to do some preliminary research so that if someone asks me whose panel I’m seeing next or what I thought of Richard Nash’s discussion on small press readership, I’ll have something to say. I’m also trying to bulk up on Superstition Review material, as I’ll be manning our table at the bookfair for an hour each day. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of past contributors there as well, and I’m hoping to be able to pick some out of the swarming crowd of writers.

3. Getting my social-networking feet wet

The S[R] team will be doing a lot of live reporting from the conference, which means learning the art of tweeting on-the-go. I’m not very Twitter savvy, but thankfully we have a few social-networking wizards representing the magazine this year – I hope to pick up a few things from them before the conference begins. We’ll be using an app called Everypost this year, which allows us to post content to all of our social networks at once. This will make live tweeting from panels and readings so much faster, though I’m sure we’ll still be seen occasionally hunched over our phones, trying to type a fantastic quote. We’re also hosting a few contests over social networks with daily prizes at stake, so be sure to stop by #TableC40. Of course, we’ll be on the lookout for #SRalum and continuing the ever-entertaining #overheardatAWP.

4. Finding eateries near the conference

I’ve heard about AWP’s classic $16 water bottles, so I’m not planning to buy much food onsite. At the same time, I don’t want to spend hours away from the conference in search of a decent restaurant or grocery store. Luckily, there’s a Trader Joe’s about a mile from the conference hotel and a host of good restaurants downtown. To save on time and money, I’m planning to stock up on snacks that I can break out in between sessions. I also know that I will need to escape the madness of the convention center at some point. Might as well leave to find food! Being in downtown Seattle, it will be really tempting to visit Pike Place Market. I could spend the entire afternoon at the market though, so if I venture there, I’ll have to do so with a purpose (i.e. Beecher’s cheese and Le Panier’s croissants).

5. Setting a budget

I am planning to spend some money at the bookfair – I know I won’t be able to resist buying a few books and signing up for the occasional subscription. And I want to. We are at AWP because we understand the love and devotion that goes into literary publishing and want to support each other’s craft. However, I am a poor, starving college student. Ok, maybe not quite starving, but I might be after I spend all my money on croissants and literary magazines in Seattle.

We’ll be lighting up all our social networks while at the conference, and I will be back with two more blog posts – one while in the trenches and another after we return to Arizona to see how effective all of these well-intentioned preparations were. See you at AWP! And on our networks:


Introducing Elizabeth Anderson, by Veronica Martinez

elizabethanderson_0_1Intern Veronica Martinez interviews Elizabeth Anderson about what her challenges and rewards are as the Solicitation Coordinator for Superstition Review.

Veronica Martinez: What has your intern experience been like so far? 

Elizabeth Anderson: Coming into the internship, I was expecting to do more of the tedious random assignments that no one else wanted to do and be treated like I did nothing for the magazine. There have been many deadlines and a lot of very stressful projects, but I have realized that I have been given a string of support that I can reach at any given moment. My favorite part has been the reading last week at ASU East because it was rewarding to see that the writers we contact do actually respond and are willing to give back to the community.

VM: Can you give us a short description of what your internship duties are?

EA: I am currently the Solicitations Coordinator. I searched for fiction, nonfiction, art, and poetry writers to add to our current Solicitations list. I contacted bookstores, Undergrad and Grad programs, libraries and more to send out the fliers to ask for submissions for issue 3. I am in charge of reminded the genre editors of their deadlines. I am currently working on adding names to our distributions list from people who attended the AWP conference.

VM: What are your hopes for the future, in regards to what you are learning through this internship experience? 

EA: In regards to this internship, I am learning the basic skills of discipline and deadlines. I will be able to apply these skills to my dream of becoming a writer or an editor for a well-known magazine like Time or Life. I am learning how to be a committed intern, and have realized that there is a climb to get to the top. I hope that this internship will help me pursue my dreams and work hard for what I want. I hope to apply my new-found knowledge of the contemporary writers and the varieties of writing styles to my future work. Overall, this internship has been very inspiring.

VM: What’s one fun thing you can tell us about yourself? 

EA: I am absolutely obsessed with the Twilight series. I am one of nine children. I plan to move to Seattle when finished with school. I am an Art History minor.