AWP 2019: Portland, OR

Just came back from the AWP conference in Portland, Oregon, the largest writers’ conference on this continent. Every hour there were about 20 presentations, panels, or readings simultaneously, usually at least 5 I’d really want to go to. Hard to choose!

The very best thing was hearing my former student Eric Boyd present on prison and writing—one of the most poignant and moving panels I attended during the entire conference. Before and after the AWP, I got to meet with my former classmate Wendi Olsen and former students, Sera Lindsey and Emily Plate. Every one of those visits was precious and a delight!

Other great pleasures were meeting the staff of CALYX, where I recently got published, especially Brenna Crotty, who was the main editor I interacted with throughout the process of publishing my poem “The Rise & Fall of Breath’s Slim Body.” I also loved meeting the Glass Lyre Press staff and publisher/editor Ami Kaye, in whose anthology Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of World Peace my poem “The Morphology of Compassion & Indifference” was recently published. (Thank you, Rustin Larson, for selecting it for inclusion!)

I loved finally meeting some online writer friends in person. Going to the Japanese gardens and Powell’s Books. Seeing Mt. Hood and Mt. Helena. Roaming around the art museum with Sera Lindsey who treated me to the experience (thank you Sera!). I also lucked out on my home base: an adorable airbnb that was a perfect writer’s cottage, affordable and out of the way. A cottage with a view!

It was an incredibly inspiring week, and I came home with more books than I can read in one month (a lot of them gifts, thank you Wendi!). Though I had delays with my return flights and did not get home till 3 AM, I have been inspired enough to write all day. This was one of the most memorable trips I ever took. Loved it!

Click below to scroll through the photos. The photo of the conference center with the blossom tree was taken by my friend Karen Grace, who happened to be on vacation in the vicinity.