Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I was fortunate, really blessed, to be able to get away and go to AWP in Austin. Cracked Slab Books, the press I do with Bill Allegrezza was able to launch our new title Edging by Michelle Noteboom at the conference.

AWP is an interesting event in many ways. Of course you have your poetic/prosaic big wigs, got to meet Christian Bok, and Joshua Clover. I also got to reconnect with friends like Liz Willis, Jen Hofer, Peter Gizzi and Brian Clements. I also was able to reconnect with other luminaries like Paul Hoover, Maxine Chernoff, Jennifer Moxley, Lee Ann Brown, Rachel Levitsky, and Dan Machlin.

Since I have been criticized by so many for being grumpy and negative I will get the criticisms out of the way before the good stuff, there are two; first off there was not a very strong presence of Texas poets and writers. At AWP in Chicago two years ago there were lots of us around I have to say in three days of sitting at our table we got only a few names from the Lone Star State.

A Second criticism is systemic. AWP tends to schedule pretty mainstream readings so many poets, prose people and non fiction people create their own readings around the conference.

Many of these are huge and interesting but they all conflict with one another. I think that AWP should try to coordinate these off sight readings and print or web print a schedule.


Since I was personing a booth I was only able to get to four sessions but they were really interesting.

American Poets in the 21st Century

1) Panelists: Peter Gizzi, Juliana Spahr, Karen Volkman, Joshua Clover, Traci Morris

I did not know what to expect in this session and I have to say that I was blown away.
Juliana Spahr read first from her new work Chillicothe. The poetry was such a departure for Juliana from Fuck you Aloha I love you. She has moved from a poet focused on innovation to a poet who is innovative and new and I have to say that I am looking forward to this book whenever it comes out then Karen Volkman read Karen is such an enigma she writes these formal verse poems, sonnets and alike and yet they are still innovative. Then the highlight of the session read, Traci Morris. her sound poetry and her commentary on African American modes of writing was so interesting I will be looking for her work in the future, Peter Gizzi read a letter that he sent to a colleague. Anyone who wants to know where the next member of that chain of innovators that starts with Pound and Black Mountain and alike is need look no further than Peter. then finally Josh Clover read. Josh is fancy people his glasses his reading style he is a rarity in a US poet a public intellectual.

This session was interesting because their was an interplay between all of these people i wish that they had recorded the session but I urge everyone to go out and buy Traci Morris' work she is a real star.

2) Enrique to Ricky Translations in Latin and Luso American poetry.

Since I have spent so much time on Brazilian translations this year I went to this session first off I discovered Host books a translation press which is very much of interest for what they publish in translation. the session was small but fruitful.

3) Holy Poetry batman

Panelists Stephanie Brown, Simone Muench, Tony Hoagland someothers.

This session was interesting for what was not said. Stephanie Brown talked about Doggerl and poetry that is innovative but bad, simone muench talked about CD Wright and the south and tone and voice and Tony Hoagland reminded me why I do not own any of his books but of the three Stephanie Brown was the most compelling she challenged poets and poetry to separate the mud from the water and in a way that was kind and clear I envy her tact.

4) U of California Reading

Anyone who says that the U of California Press is not the best poetry press in the USA is clearly living on another planet. In this reading Joshua Clover, Mei Mei Bersenbugge, Laura Mullin, and other poets simply blew the doors off. After the first session I was primed to hate Josh Clover , but I really loved his work so intelligent so erudite Mei Mei was incredible and Laura Mullin's new work is simply the best work Laura Mullin has published.

On the whole AWP was satiating good. Of course it was not as good as when we had it in Chicago but everything is better in Chicago... LOL but I came away from AWP with a new respect for people and poets and writers the work they do and the sacrifices made.


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