LandEscapes at AWP
AWP 2020 in San Antonio
LandEscapes was given the incredible opportunity to send three of our staff to North America’s largest literary conference, AWP or Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Myself, Taija (fiction editor), and Noelle (poetry editor and digital designer) attended the conference on March 6th-7 th.
I think it’s important to note that we were very fortunate to be able to have gotten to go to AWP 2020 at all, since in the following week, the issue of coronavirus became more serious. Now, as a I write this, the world is still in a mess; concerts have been cancelled, stay-at-home orders issued, and large gatherings not allowed. Even at the conference, a fair number of
booths were empty in the book fair and a lot of panels had been cancelled. Still, AWP proved to be everything we thought and more. I know that sounds cliché, but it really was.
If you love writing, it doesn’t matter what genre-fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s books-AWP literally has something for every writer. For the three of us, it was so overwhelming walking into this entirely new space and what we walked into was just the book fair. The book fair itself was more than just books; there was a wide variety of publishers, graduate writing programs, and literary journals like LandEscapes. Each row took at least half an hour to go down, especially because we kept getting distracted and trying to decide whether to buy a book (or two).
(RIP to our wallets).
Outside of the book fair, each of us attended panels that we were interested in. My favorite panel had been with a blind essayist who described how she tackled description and form. It was really interesting to hear her perspective, plus it really made me think about when I write description. Noelle’s favorite had been a poetry panel where the panelists discussed writing with gratitude rather than just writing the negative things. It was all about positive writing in poetry.
One of the highlights of the conference was watching Noelle read one of her poems at a reading. It was completely unplanned, but the poet really liked Noelle and wanted her to read. Even though it was her first time reading in front of a crowd like that, she did so well! Taija writes about the highlights of her experience as follows:
“The sense of community was my favorite part. Despite the virus, everyone there was welcoming and made sure everyone was having a good time. Though the panels were good, I found the greatest sense of community when going around the book fair. I got to talk to colleges and their amazing writing programs and I was introduced to a realm of new types of books and literary journals. Everyone was upbeat and easy to talk to and it was so much fun getting to meet all new kinds of people. I am very glad I got to go to AWP this year and hope to go again in the future.”
I think all three of us can agree that it was really amazing to be in an environment where everyone cares about the arts. For me, it was also just fun to spend time with the other editors outside of school and our meetings. My advice: if you have the opportunity to go to AWP and you’re a writer, do it!