These AWP Events Are Not To Miss!

by Rebecca Makkai

The AWP schedule can be overwhelming. I’ve pared it down for you to the can’t-miss events. You’re welcome!

Thursday, March 31

8 am to 5:30 pm

R100 Conference Registration

Is that your ex, three people behind you in this two-hour line? Fuck.

Registration Area, West Hall, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

9:00 am to 10:00 am

R117 The Pedagogy of Pedagogy of Pedagogy

Four writers talk about teaching teaching, writing writing, composing composition. This is technically how you got funding to come to this thing. You promised your department head that there would be some serious pedagogical philosophy going down. You might also have implied that AWP was a sort of meditative retreat where you’d get a lot of syllabus writing done. Anyway, you’d better go to this. Take like five notes.

Room 403 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

10:34 am

That Thing Where You Think You See Susan Orlean, But It Turns Out to Be an Adjunct Professor Named Linda

Convention Center Elevator

10:30 am to 11:45 am

R132 Rivering: Five Poets Talk about the River and Process

Five poets discuss the relation between the rhythm of the paddle and the rhythm of the line, the current of the river and the current of meaning. You totally did not mean to come into this room. There are like six people here, and the woman at the podium smiled at you so gratefully when you walked in. How long do you have to give it? Five minutes? Ten? They’re so earnest. Okay, lets go with seven minutes of head nodding, then a theatrical glance at your conference schedule, an open-mouthed gape at your watch, and an apologetic sprint from the room.

Room 405 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

12:00 pm to 3:00 am

JW Marriott Bar

Attach a colorful flag to a pole, and stick the pole into your manbun/womanbun/writerhair. Text your friends the color of the flag. When they don’t show up, have a drunken, emphatic conversation with the guy next to you about theme. Like, what do we mean, theme? What the hell is that? Also, this guy has an almond allergy, and he will tell you all about it.

5:00 pm

Tattoo Caucus

Grand ballroom


7:00 pm-1 fucking 30 am

SLAM!: Seventy-Nine Writers Read for Longer than Necessary

This is not a poetry slam. None of these people has ever been to a poetry slam. This is a hostile takeover of an LA bar by seventy-nine writers, each of whom has been asked to read for three minutes maximum. (Twelve.) (In one case, seventeen.) Here’s a fun game: When the TV in the corner of the bar begins showing a Trump rally, pretend the words are coming out of The Donald’s mouth in breathy poet voice. Ineluctable thirst, my sideways longing. Yes. Viscosity of doubt, tongue of my mother’s mother tongue. God, yes. Make America lyric again.

The Alibi Room, 12236 W. Washington Blvd.

Friday, April 1

8:00 am to 5:30 pm

F102 Lactation Room

You had this confused with the Emily Dickinson Hermit Cave. Where is it this year? Where are you supposed to have your panic attack? There’s a grad student doing a headstand in the second floor hallway, but you get the feeling this is more of a showoff look at my yoga thing, something she’s been planning for six months, than an actual attempt at creating a quiet space. But if you hold a bundle of clothing to your chest and talk to it, they’ll let you into the lactation room, right? Give it a shot.

First-Aid Suite, LA Convention Center, Exhibit Hall Level One

10:30 pm to 11:45 am

F147 SoCal-LoCal-VoCal: We’re From Here

Four writers who are very much from southern California and saw their opportunity. You know two of these writers, so this would be a great thing to go to, because you’ve been meaning to catch up with Marie. But you haven’t had coffee yet. So here’s an idea: Go get your coffee, then come running into the panel at 11:32 like you’ve been desperate to get here and just managed to break free from some binding commitment. Take Marie to lunch.

Room 503 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

12:30–1:45 pm

F162 A Guy You Never Heard of Recently Died

Everyone but you knows who this guy was. Walk in to educate yourself. Be moved by his writing. Start to feel incredibly awkward because everyone else in the room apparently knew him really well. Everyone else is crying. You really can’t leave now.

Gold Salon 1, JW Marriott LA, 1st Floor

3:00–4:45 pm

F232 Snap the Bird!: Promoting Your Twitter Account through Snapchat

Remember when writers needed to be encouraged to spend more time on the Internet? This nostalgia-themed panel will take you back to those glory days of 2008. Featuring such golden oldies as Only do what feels natural and Make sure to promote others as often as yourself and Follow accounts that interest you. Filled with retro touches like people your grandmother’s age carefully penciling “Instant Gram” (sp?) in spiral notebooks.

Room 401 B, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

Book Fair Highlights

Friday afternoon is a great time to visit vendors at their most bedraggled! Be sure to check out:

  • The place giving out matchbooks
  • The place with the old-timey typewriter
  • The editor who’s had your essay for fourteen months and he’s just sitting there, and couldn’t he at least be reading? Like, if you’re fourteen months behind on submissions, maybe you could bring a few files with you. Just saying.
  • The grad student sobbing on the floor between booths L16 and L17, slowly realizing that there are fifteen thousand people here, and they can’t all be the Next Big Thing
  • The place giving out magnets


8:00 pm

LA Law Karaoke Costume Party at the Santa Monica Pier, sponsored by VIDA and Pen America, featuring Mary Oliver and Kesha

Here’s a fun idea: Miss this one because your friend is crying and needs to go somewhere quiet to melt down about how her mentor snubbed her. Then spend the next month staring at the awesome photos on Facebook.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

8:00 am to 9:15 am

S105 All Our Secrets: All of Them.

(Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, John Irving, the resurrected corpse of David Foster Wallace)

Four legendary novelists share all the writing secrets they’ve gathered over lauded careers and (in one case) the afterlife. But who are we kidding? You’re not getting up at 8 am. Moderated by Alice Munro.

10:30 am to 11:45 am

S119 The Art of the Acknowledgment Page

Four writers will sit helplessly by while a fifth writer gives a thirty-minute lecture at the podium. You promised your friend Dwight you’d come to his panel, but poor Dwight is shooting you a look that says Oh my god, we were just supposed to introduce ourselves and say the names of our books, and you can’t abandon him now. The over-paneler reads his own acknowledgments, plus those of six other authors he admires. Dwight has started building a little SOS sign out of hotel breath mints. The panelist is now reading one of his own short stories, in its entirety. Dwight is dead. It’s probably safe to leave.

Room 404 AB, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level

12:00 pm

AA Meeting

You might want to go to this even if you’re not sober. Just for, like, balance.

Marriott Basement

3:00 pm to 4:15 pm

Your One Chance to Kiss up to Michael Collier

This panel technically has another name, but whatever. Sit in the audience rehearsing what you’re going to say. You don’t need to listen to the panel. What, is there a pop quiz? Walk up to the table afterwards, but linger at the end of the line. Let all these awkward folks go first. Smile patiently and let them pass you. Let your smile convey that they’re free to go up there and schmooze, but you and Michael have real business to discuss. You and the Mikester. The Mickey C. Good god, don’t call him that. Get up there and look at your own name badge to refresh your memory. Explain that you’re the person who once spilled orange juice on him in the Bread Loaf dining hall. Say that you very poetry. No. You poetry much in the AWP and once there was a Vermont. He looks confused. Explain patiently that on the mountain in Vermont there was a poetry, and many poems were in the journal, the ones that you poemed on the mountain, and the panel was a fantastic representation of the thing that you were thinking of back then and also now. When he glances around for help, say “I like mountains!” and run away.

Diamond Salon 6&7, JW Marriott LA, 3rd Floor

10:00 pm to 12:00 am

AWP Public Reception and Dance Party

Get your groove on with your choice of:

  1. Your fellow grad students, sweating their Warby Parkers off
  2. The same person you’ve been drunkenly grinding with for seven AWPs in a row before crying in opposite corners of the room and then texting for two hours and then flying home to your spouses
  3. Your former thesis advisor
  4. Alexander Chee

Diamond Salon 1–4, JW Marriott LA, 3rd Floor

1:00 am

Random Grad Student Hotel Room Party

You were trying to find Renee’s room, but these people seem cool.

Sunday, April 4, 2016

7:22 am

Shuttle Ride to Airport

Do not barf on Claudia Rankine. Do not barf on Claudia Rankine. Do not barf on Claudia Rankine.

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