Last Wednesday, I rode a bus through a snowstorm from New York City to Boston for AWP 2013. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs–or AWP–provides support, advocacy, resources, and community to nearly 50,000 writers, 500 college and university creative writing programs, and 125 writers’ conferences and centers. It’s largely known for its yearly conference, which takes place in a different city each year. Some might say it’s Art Basel or SXSW for writers.
As I entered the book fair on Thursday, I felt like a cat plopped in a new apartment—carefully walking through aisles of hundreds of tables, trying to orient myself to all the publishers and organizations on display around me. As someone who spends a lot of time working on eBooks and surrounding myself with ePublishing, it’s amazing to see the world of print books thriving.
Dozens of panels were held throughout the day during different time slots in the convention center, ranging from craft lectures on how to improve your writing to building a successful Kickstarter campaign for your publishing project. I ended up spending some time exploring the fair itself with Niina Pollari, Project Specialist (Publishing Category) at Kickstarter, who was on the aforementioned panel. We stopped by many publishers’ booths to browse their titles and even grabbed a bite at a Boston literary establishment, Bukowski Tavern.
For me, attending AWP for the first time, the personal highlight was the off-site readings. Multiple lit mags, micropresses, and online entities combined forces to hold readings in coffee shops, pubs, churches, and independent bookstores. Traveling all the way from Cambridge to Jamaica Plain in the back of a cab was an amazing way to see a city I had never visited before. I was even lucky enough to be able to help host an off-site brunch representing two incredible chapbook presses, Birds of Lace and Dancing Girl Press. [Pictured above]. It was a wonderful first-time experience, and now I’m dreaming of hitting next year’s AWP in Seattle with the whole Zola gang beside me!
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.