AWP 2012 Aftermath
by Salvatore Pane
In no particular order, I give you my 2012 AWP highlights:
1. I read at the Beauty Bar for Mud Luscious, PANK, and Annalemma. The venue itself was really neat. You could get manicures and they had seasonal beers for three dollars. I read this new flash fiction piece I’d just finished called “I am Ronald Reagan: The Game” and it seemed to go over really well with the crowd. But being the clumsy jamoke I am, I hit my head on a low-hanging ceiling on the way to the stage. I mean really clocked it. And by the time I finished reading I’d totally forgotten hitting my head in the first place and slammed the thing twice as hard right between the eyes. I staggered down into the back room where all the readers where hanging out and there was all this blood coming out of my forehead. Yes. I injured myself reading.
In the closet-sized bathroom, I wadded up some paper towels and tried to stop the bleeding. There was only one stall and inside were Ben Tanzer and Ryan Bradley doing a literary podcast. I was stuck back there for pretty much the second half of the reading. Matt Bell came by and assured me I didn’t have a concussion or need stitches, and I shook Scott McClanahan’s hand while simultaneously holding bloody paper towels to my head. The best part was when Chad Redden came in and told me he’d read the chapbook I submitted to NAP Magazine and wanted to publish it. So if you listen to Ben and Ryan’s podcast and hear some lunatic shouting with joy in the background that’s bloody face me. I’m beyond excited about the chapbook! It’s called #KanyeWestSavedFromDrowning and it should be out late 2012.
2. I was very lucky to be included on a panel called “Vampire by Vampire: Genre Writing in the Creative Writing Workshop” with Jeff Condran, Alissa Nutting, BJ Hollars, and Elizabeth Weber. It went so much better than I ever even hoped for, and I was really moved when two current undergrads said they’d been so discouraged by their own universities for producing strange fiction that they weren’t even sure if they wanted to be writers anymore. Also, I explained the speeder bike level of Battletoads to the crowd, and then BJ told us about one of my favorite movies, The Wizard. I hope this starts a trend of more Battletoads references in AWP pedagogical panels.
3. At the Stymie reading, I finally met my boy Mark Cugini who came up to me and yelled, “Internet Friends!” We shared a cab with some folks to Literature Party and talked about fantasy football and Ms. Pacman which, if you know me, covers nearly all of my interests.
4. I ate Chicago style pizza with Geoff Peck, Dave Keaton, and Amy Lueck and Dave kept calling it a “Pizza Cake”.
5. The WPA in the 21st Century Panel with Geoff and Cathy Day.
6. While in line to register at the hotel, I saw Mike Meginnis and his wife Tracy a few people in front of me. We’d never met in real life, so I yelled, “Mike!” really loud and then tried to make it seem like I didn’t yell “Mike!” so if it wasn’t him I wouldn’t look weird. It was Mike. He recognized me because I was wearing a tie which is what many, many people told me throughout the conference.
7. I went to the top of the Sears Tower with Katie Coyle and Kevin Tassini and I basically spent the entire time complaining that they had all this shit about overrated Michael Jordan and nothing about Kanye West. We then dragged Katie about a half hour away so I could buy a handful of retro games including Dragon Quest I & II, Dragon Quest V, and Dragon Quest VI for the Super Famicom.
8. Oliu got a manicure at Beauty Bar.
9. I was drinking at the hotel bar with Peck, Lauren Becker, and Erin Fitzgerald when this dude came over to us and invited us up into his room for free wine. We went and met a bunch of really nice poets. Nobody lost a kidney which was a serious concern of mine.
10. I stepped off the plane and a writer gave me her card even before I made it to the subway.
11. Dancing with xTx, Roxane Gay, Ashley Ford, and a host of other people at Literature Party to “‘Mo Money, ‘Mo Problems” or as I call it, the greatest song ever conceived by humans.
12. I was able to grab a drink with the two other creative writing faculty members at the University of Indianapolis where I’ll be a TENURE TRACK ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH CREATIVE WRITING this coming fall! Pedagogy Level Up!
13. On the last night, me and Peck were closing down the hotel bar when this woman came over and basically advised us on every aspect of our lives. I’m talking some serious Yoda shit.
14. Steve Kowalski reading “When the Browns Win the Super Bowl” and it being as good as the time he read it in Cleveland.
15. Drunkenly rambling with Paul Morris about Nextwave, DC’s new 52, The Authority, and a host of other nerdy comic awesomeness.
16. Tim Kinsella is the Tim Kinsella from Cap’n Jazz.