My review of Nicolle Elizabeth’s chapbook published by DOGZPLOT is now live on PANK. Check it out.
My review of Nicolle Elizabeth’s chapbook published by DOGZPLOT is now live on PANK. Check it out.
Last time when I discussed AWP, I focused mainly on general pointers and the long list of panels I hoped to attend. What I didn’t cover were the off-site events. Usually, these events are put on by lit journals and have a much more laid back feel than the official AWP panels. They usually take place at night after most of the official AWP events are over, and sometimes they’re even held in bars or during happy hour. Below you’ll find a list of events I find most interesting. It’s clearly not an all-conclusive list, and once again I haven’t covered Saturday as I’ll sadly be on a flight returning to Pittsburgh.
Throughout the Conference
Museum Of Contemporary Art
Location: 1485 Delgany, Denver Co 80202; 303.298.7554
Cost: $5 admission for all attendees and participants in the AWP conference
MCA DENVER is an activator, content provider and immediate research vehicle of culture in the making—a museum without a front door—a place for public engagement. MCA DENVER has five distinct galleries, three spaces for education, multiple sites for special projects/commissioned works and one live art/lecture hall. MCA DENVER excites artists and visitors alike to enter into creative conversations that extend beyond our walls.
A world class museum for five bucks? It’s hard to turn down this one when it’s open to AWP attendees during the entire convention. After 72 hours of straight literary discussion, you may need some type of deviation to recharge your batteries.
4:00PM-8:30PM DoubleCross Press, Lame House Press,and Slash Pine Press Presents A Poetry Marathon
Location: Rackhouse Pub, 208 S. Kalamath St.
Whether for a happy hour of local microbrews, a good pub dinner, or the entire four+ hour reading, our presses invite you to the work of over thirty poets. Readers include Abraham Smith, Kate Greenstreet, Malachai Black, John Dermot Woods, Anne Shaw, Jen Tynes, Farrah Field, Gina Myers/Nate Pritts, Matt Hart, Claire Becker, Matt Rasmussen, Brian Oliu, MC Hyland, Nathan Hauke, Dolly Lemke, francine j. harris, among others. 8 minute drive or 20 minutes by light rail + walking.
This one’s a bit of a trek, but I appreciate that it gives people arriving on Wednesday–such as myself–something to do. Plus, the allure of Denver “microbews [and] a good pub dinner” might be too much for me to turn down.
7:00PM-10:00PM AHSAHTA / OMNIDAWN READING
Location: The Magnolia Hotel Ballroom, 17th & Stout (Only 3 blocks from the Colorado Convention Center.)
Cost: No charge for the event.
Please join Ahsahta Press and Omnidawn Publishing for a reading. The readers will be: Christopher Arigo, Susan Briante, Dan Beachy-Quick, Maxine Chernoff & Paul Hoover, Gillian Conoley, Ben Doller, Lisa Fishman, Noah Eli Gordon, Richard Greenfield, Janet Holmes, Hank Lazer, Laura Moriarty, Rusty Morrison, G.E. Patterson, Craig Santos Perez, Bin Ramke, Don Revell, Elizabeth Robinson, Heather Sellers, Heidi Lynn Staples, Michelle Taransky.
This one’s a lot closer to the conference and a great opportunity to catch an event by Ahsahta, one of the major poetry publishers in the country.
7:00PM-9:00PM COUNTERPATH BOOKS / DRUNKEN BOAT / GUERNICA / PERSEA BOOKS / POOL PERFORMANCE
Location: Dikeou Collection, 1615 California St., Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202; 303.623.3001
Join five of the most innovative journals and literary publishers showcasing their contributors in multiple genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and video installation. Performers include Laird Hunt, Steve Katz, Alexander Chee, Susan Taylor Chehak, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Irina Reyn, Robin Beth Schaer, Dean Rader, Karen Holman, Elizabeth Bradfield and Dylan Landis. Free and open to the public, and only minutes from the conference hotel.
This one’s a no-brainer for me. I love most of the hosts of the event, and Irina Reyn has really been an instrumental help to me as I’ve worked on my book. Plus, Elizabeth Kadetsky–former Pitt faculty–will be reading along with a performance by Peter Yumi, a musician I had the chance to see collaborate with poet Karla Kelsey in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. This one should be epic.
8:00PM-11:00PM Cave Canem/Kundiman Reading & Salon
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver, CO 80205; (303) 294-9281
Cost: $3 suggested donation — to benefit Cave Canem & Kundiman (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Join the Cave Canem & Kundiman Families for a Reading Featuring Toi Derricotte, Sarah Gambito, Cornelius Eady, Oliver de la Paz, Dawn Lundy Martin & Kazim Ali + a salon featuring Cave Canem and Kundiman fellows & family (bring a poem to share!) Emceed by Ching-In Chen & Tara Betts.
Toi Derricotte is another Pitt faculty member, so if Cave Canem is your thing, definitely check this one out.
5:30PM-7:30PM Prairie Schooner “Baby Boomer” Reading
Location: Common Grounds Downtown Coffee, 1550 17th St, Denver, CO
A group reading by contributors to the special “Boomer” Issue of Prairie Schooner. Readers include: Hilde Weisert, Robert E. Wood, Harriet Millan, Marilyn Kallet, Paul Lisicky, Maureen Seaton, Stephen Gibson, A.E. Stringer, Sharon Dolin, Julie Kane, Annie Finch, Edward Falco, Michael Waters, Kate Sontag, Robin Becker, Susan Aizenberg, Charles Harper Webb, Ellen Doré Watson, Toi Derricotte, Dorothy Barresi, Donald Morrill, Christopher Howell, Ray Amorosi, Albert Goldbarth, Bill Lavender, and Marianne Boruch.
Who doesn’t love Prairie Schooner? Who doesn’t want another chance to see Toi Derricotte if they missed her the night before? Another great aspect of this event is the time. It’s one of the earliest off-site events on Thursday, so if you just absolutely have to get away from the conference, this one may be your best bet.
7:00PM-8:30PM Born Magazine @ Gypsy House
Location: Gypsy House Café, located at 1279 Marion Street (on the corner of 13th and Marion) Denver, CO 80218
Born Magazine and the Gypsy House Reading Series present an evening of experimental writer-artist collaborations on Thursday, April 8th from 7–8:30 PM at the Gypsy House Café. Please join us for a screening of Born projects, with readings by Ander Monson, Monica Drake, Esther Lee, Emma Ramey, Keetje Kuipers, and Thomas Crofts.
A free to the public event featuring “experimental writer-artist collaborations”. Could prove very interesting and worthy of your time.
7:00PM FC2 Flash Reading
Location: Dikeou Collection, 1615 California St, Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202
Matt Roberson, Rob Stephenson, Steve Katz, Vanessa Place, Lynn Kilpatrick, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Susan Steinberg, Brian Evenson, Brian Kiteley, Cris Mazza, Debra Di Blasi, Lance Olsen, Jan Ramjerdi, Steve Gutierrez, Lidia Yuknavitch, Jeffrey DeShell, Elisabeth Sheffield
I couldn’t find much information about what exactly FC2 Flash is, but I’m imagining with the number of participants–and some of the familiar names–that it’s some kind of flash fiction reading. A favorite genre of mine, I’ll definitely try and make it to this one. If anyone knows exactly what this is, please leave info in the comments.
7:00PM Northwestern University Press / &NOW Books / Artifice Magazine Reading
Location: The Celtic Tavern, 1801 Blake St, Denver, CO 80202
Join Northwestern University Press, &Now Books, and Artifice Magazine for an evening of readings. Three imprints at different ages showcase authors writing at the frontier of contemporary literature.
I’m a big fan of Artifice so you can be certain I’ll be checking this one out.
Location: Forest Room 5
Short fiction reading comprised of joint DOGZPLOT and PANK contributors: Aaron Burch, Anne Valente, Beth Thomas, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Matt Bell, JA Tyler, Erin Fitzgerald, Molly Gaudry, Kathy Fish, Angi Becker Stevens, Matt Salesses, Pedro Ponce.
Damn is this a packed time slot. I really enjoy DOZPLOT and PANK–I’m doing book reviews for PANK now too–and would love to catch a Matt Bell reading after missing him at Modern Formations in Pittsburgh due to work.
7:30PM-9:30PM Publication Party and Reading
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver
Publication party and reading for the anthology It’s Not You, It’s Me: The Poetry of Break Up. Featuring Patricia Smith, Kim Addonizio, Jerry Williams, Angela Ball, Kevin Prufer, Martha Rhodes, and others.
It’s getting worse and worse. Kim Addonizio is easily one of my favorite working poets. This will be my first real chance to catch her read, so I really want to try and make it to this one too. It looks like some serious sacrifices are going to have to be made.
8:00PM-10:00PM A Magazine Party: Colorado Review, The Normal School, Denver Quarterly, The Pinch
Location: Wazee Supper Club, 1600 15th Street
Cost: cash bar and apps
Come celebrate with some of your favorite magazines.
Colorado Review? Denver Quarterly?! Come on 7-9 time slot!
9:30PM TypewriterGirls Poetry Cabaret
Location: Mercury Cafe 2199 California St, Denver CO
The TypewriterGirls’ Dada-bred performances are collage-work theatre formed from sketch comedy, poetry, music, whiskey games, collaborative writing, burlesque, and a little magic. In essence, they strive to embody the Comte de Lautréamont’s creed “poetry must be made by all” with a play and a dance party. This event will feature some of Denver’s finest poets and performers.
This one is notable because it’s hosted by the TypewriterGirls, a cool little outfit based in Pittsburgh that puts out Weave. Definitely worth your time.
10:30PM-1:00AM Genres and Generations
Location: Dazzle Restaurant and Lounge, 930 Lincoln St, Denver, CO 80203; 303.839.5100
Cost: Free Event- No Passes Required
Genres and Generations is featuring Tarpaulin Sky, Fact-Simile, Monkey Puzzle Press, Fast Forward, Bombay Gin, and Zero Ducats. These presses publish genres that span generations of crafting to genres that have yet to be. Please join us for a wonderful evening of literary collaboration.
This one sounds like a good late-night event, and I’m assuming there will be booze , always a plus.
3:00PM- 4:30PM DENVER QUARTERLY Reading and Publication Celebration
Location: The Dikeou Collection, located in Downtown Denver: The Colorado Building, 1615 California Street (at 16th Street), Suite 515, Denver, CO 80202 (Only a two-block-walk from the Colorado Convention Center.)
Cost: There will be free wine and snacks, and no charge for the event.
Please join the Denver Quarterly and Coach House Press for a reading on Friday, April 9th, from 3-6pm at The Dikeou Collection. Featuring: Dan Beachy-Quick, Julie Carr, Malinda Markham, Martha Ronk, Cole Swensen, Brian Teare
A particularly early event and a chance to catch a Denver Quarterly shindig if you missed the one on Thursday.
4:00PM- 6:00PM failbetter.com’s 10th anniversary
Location: Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street, Denver
Cost: No cover, cash bar
failbetter.com celebrates its 10th anniversary with a cocktail party and reading, featuring: Sherman ALEXIE, Michael MARTONE, Terese SVOBODA
Uh… did you look at who’s reading?
5:00PM- 7:00PM Black Warrior Review / Blue Hour Press Reading
Location: Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto, 1632 Market St, Denver, CO 80202
Website: http://bwr.ua.edu/ & http://www.bluehourpress.com/
Start off your evening of off-site events at Double Daughter’s (just an eight-block walk or free bus ride), where ten readers will share the work they’ve published in the physical pages of Black Warrior Review and the digital pages of Blue Hour Press: Christopher Cheney, Miriam Cohen, Shanna Compton, Nick Courtright, John Gallaher, James Grinwis, Emily Kendal Frey, Brian Kubarycz, Sabrina Orah Mark, and Alexis Orgera.
A couple things to say about this one. First off, it’s hosted at Mario’s Double Daughter’s Salotto. I can’t even imagine what that is, so needless to say my curiosity is piqued. Secondly, I love, love, love Black Warrior Review. It’s one of my perennial lit journal subscriptions.
7:00PM-10:00PM Creative Nonfiction Launch Party & MFA Program-Off Reading
Location: The Shag Lounge, 830 15th Street, Denver, CO
After a long day at the conference, come relax with Creative Nonfiction and listen to readings from the finalists and winner of the MFA Program-Off Contest. Off-site event, but only three blocks from the convention center. Free copies of the newly redesigned CNF magazine, plus plenty of cheap drinks for all in attendance.
CNF is a Pitt MFA related publication, so I have to give it some hype here. If you’ve never read the journal, you might as well come out, get some cheap drinks and a free copy of the magazine.
7:30PM-9:30PM Barbed Wire Reading Series
Location: Michelangelo’s Coffee and Wine Bar, 1 Broadway Suite B
Cost: No cover * Half price bottles of wine
The International Reading Series! Come hear the literary work of artists from Denver, the Southwest, Latin America, and the Deep South at the long-running, multi-genre Barbed Wire Reading Series. In 2004, Barbed Wire was birthed from the University of Texas at El Paso bilingual MFA program, where it continues to the present. It spread to the University of Alabama in 2007. MCed by Denver’s own Trent Hudley, and Kevin Brown of the University of Alabama.
*In keeping with the tradition of the Barbed Wire series in Tuscaloosa, AL, Michelangelo’s will be offering half price bottles of wine especially and exclusively for the Barbed Wire event.
I don’t know a thing about this event other than the half-priced bottles of wine. That’s all I need to know.
One of the many perennial essays that gets handed out to would-be writers is Ted Solotarff’s “Writing in the Cold: The First Ten Years”. It’s a harsh look at what even talented apprentice writers have to endure: toiling away in obscurity clinging to the desperate hope that their stories will get published (with no payment) in some small, yet respected, journal. That maybe one day if they work hard enough, and they’re lucky enough, that some agent will contact them, ready to take a risk. And above all, they have to hope that their writing is worth a damn, that when the call comes they’ll have something substantial to show even when a million voices (internal and external) tell the writer to give up, that they are of inferior stock, garbage, an abomination.
Writers have been rethinking this essay ever since Solotarff’s death back in 2008. In the LA Times, Dani Shapiro grappled with the essay and how the publishing industry has undergone a sea change since its original publication back in the early ’80’s. Shapiro writes:
The creative writing industry of the mid-1980s now seems like a few mom-and-pop shops scattered on a highway lined with strip malls and mega-stores. Today’s young writers don’t peruse the dusty shelves of previous generations. Instead, they are besotted with the latest success stories: The 18-year-old who receives a million dollars for his first novel; the blogger who stumbles into a book deal; the graduate student who sets out to write a bestselling thriller — and did. The 5,000 students graduating each year from creative writing programs (not to mention the thousands more who attend literary festivals and conferences) do not include insecurity, rejection and disappointment in their plans. I see it in their faces: the almost evangelical belief in the possibility of the instant score. And why not? They are, after all, the product of a moment that doesn’t reward persistence, that doesn’t see the value in delaying recognition, that doesn’t trust in the process but only the outcome. As an acquaintance recently said to me: “So many crappy novels get published. Why not mine?” The emphasis is on publishing, not on creating. On being a writer, not on writing itself. The publishing industry — always the nerdy distant cousin of the rest of media — has the same blockbuster-or-bust mentality of television networks and movie studios. There now exist only two possibilities: immediate and large-scale success, or none at all. There is no time to write in the cold, much less for 10 years.(Shapiro)
There’s a lot of mine fields to be navigated here, the chief of which in my mind is Shapiro’s complete disregard of the literary brat pack of the 1980’s. Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, these were writers who seemingly appeared overnight with novel publications in their early twenties. I still remember a mentor of mine, Tom Bailey, discussing in class how he read Less Than Zero when it came out and seethed with jealousy and rage for weeks on end. Writers getting published at a young age doesn’t seem like a particularly new aspect of the literary industry, and in fact, seems to happen less and less because the major publishers can no longer spend the time developing a writer. If Andre Dubus emerged today with The Lieutenant, you can almost be sure he wouldn’t have gone on to become the celebrated master he’s seen as now. He would’ve been dropped from the majors into the world of the University Presses or be permanently saddled as a mid list writer (as an aside, check out this great article in Kirkus Reviews about the plight of the mid lister).
What I do find to be of particular interest in Shapiro’s essay is her speculation that this latest generation of writers is fundamentally different from those who came before. I’ll leave that one to the historians, but it may be relevant to take a look at some of the premiere literary upstarts of the last few years. Many of these journals (I’m talking smaller places like The Collagist, New York Tyrant, Annalemma, Dogzplot, etc. etc.) seem to have become the new training grounds for young writers. These journals publish work from established writers, but their stable of contributors is mostly comprised of the up-and-comers. And with comments enabled on the online stories, these writers are building communities and networks that are bubbling over and just beginning to get notice from the New York majors. Perhaps this is the writing in the cold Shapiro thinks is missing from the current literary community. It’s just not being done in places like The New England Review, it’s happening in online upstarts independent from the university.
However, there’s one more element crucial to this issue. Has the definition of what success means for a writer changed in the ensuing years between “Writing in the Cold” and today? Joe Coscarelli recently wrote this piece in Gawker. Coscarelli writes:
Aspiring novelists are archaic. I know this because in four years of higher education, no one ever offered to show me a manuscript, but I’ve seen more blogs than bongs. The bearded, bespectacled Pavement fans… are unemployed or out of touch. Or dead. No one in their early twenties wants to be a music journalist—that would be absurd. These English majors want to be some super genius bloggers. (Coscarelli)
He goes onto discuss how that in a world obsessed with fame, those souls who in any other time would be drawn to the method of cultural production that is the modern novel (or even the music journalism of the 1990’s) are now obsessed with becoming bloggers or nebulous media personalities. Coscarelli thinks that our priorities have shifted, and on that account, I don’t think many people can argue. What is success for writers in the digital age? Is it publishing a book of stories with a small Midwestern press that only a sliver of the public will actually read, or is it maintaining a popular blog with a loyal readership in the upper-thousands (or maybe success means being Maud Newton who has an awesome blog AND a forthcoming novel)? I can’t really say, but what I take comfort in is that for some of us, the definition of writerly success is the same as it’s always been: publishing a superior novel of critical acclaim. Just look at the aforementioned literary journals and the Rise of the MFA Program. There are more people writing than ever before, and this is cause for celebration (even if the reading public is dwindling by the day).