AWP, Not Chicago

I dreamed last night (in the middle of a long night of fighting-off-a-cold dreams) that the AWP Annual Conference & Book Fair had, over the years, come down significantly in its fortunes, and had been reduced to a very, very small gathering, not at some big urban hotel and conference center, but in the seventies-era glass-and-steel student center of a somewhat podunk state agricultural college in the South. AWP was now just a couple of dozen people hanging out in one of the student center’s peripheral, couch-filled lounges. Because it was so small, there was actually a modest surfeit of money, and so the conference director was handing out wads of cash to all the attendees. (He looked like Mike Czyzniejewski of the Mid-American Review; I shared a limo to the airport with Mike and his fellow editor Karen Craigo from AWP in Austin three years ago.) There was an impromptu bedroom set up in a classroom off the lounge—really just a bunch of blankets and pillows on the floor for everyone. There was work to do, and everyone had to chip in, but I was excused, and was allowed to take a nap, because I’d just arrived after a long drive. The aggie was in a small Southern city—it felt like eastern Tennessee—and it had taken a long time for me to get there, avoiding the city’s large swaths of uninhabited canyons using only a topographical map, and driving a car that, Flintstones-like, required me to run along the ground in a hole in the floor below the driver’s seat.