Seattle, home of AWP ’14 and better weather than Chicago
1. Know What to Wear
I arrived at the conference about 90 minutes after getting off my flight. I’m a nervous traveler, so the t-shirt and jeans I was wearing were a bit sweaty and anxiety ridden. My jeans and shoes looked fairly presentable, but my bright blue Hound of the Baskervilles t-shirt visually alerted every one of my newbie status the moment I stepped inside the convention center. There were other people in jeans and t-shirts (and sports jerseys?), but I didn’t want to be lumped with that crowd, if you catch my drift. I wanted to be lumped with the buttoned-down men and business-casually dressed women. The other students from my program were all dressed within these categories, and I’m not at all sure how I missed the memo. When I left the conference to get lunch at Jimmy John’s (all of their sandwiches are .74¢ cheaper in Seattle!) I raided the clearance rack at a nearby Old Navy to buy a $10 button down. I even tucked it in, which is far cry from my typical untucked, half-buttoned flannel getup. I usually avoid tucking in shirts of any kind for fear of looking like a young dad about to play golf, but as I held the shirt over my body in a mirror at Old Navy I thought I looked like a young writer who was not quite professional. Yet.
2. Know If You’ll be Giving a Reading Continue reading
In case you missed Jessi’s excellent post on AWP on AfterMAPH, MAPH’s Alumni blog, check out some highlights of AWP 2014 below:
“Find the place that scares you most and run to it.” — Eric McMillan (MAPH ‘10) on writing and, well, life
Talking Craft: (from left) Evan Stoner (’14), Hao Guang Tse (’14), Andy Tybout (’14), Chris Robinson (’14), Joel Calahan (’05, current preceptor), Eric McMillan (’10), Hilary Dobel (’09)
Last night, while leading eight current MAPH creative writers on an uphill March from the Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center to Von Trapp’s in Capitol Hill, I was marveling (aloud, perhaps unfortunately for my companions) about what going to the AWP conference can do for an aspiring writer. We were on our way to the second-ever MAPH/UChicago Alumni offsite reading at AWP. Earlier that morning, my colleague A-J Aronstein and I had stopped by a panel featuring the poet and teacher—and reader at last year’s offsite event—Shaindel Beers(MAPH ‘00) entitled the “Art of Difficulty.” Using beautiful language, Shaindel described teaching poetry students in prisons, schools, etc. as finding a way of “giving permission.” To write, one has to believe that they have something worth saying, a voice worth hearing. To Shaindel, it is a writing teacher’s job to nurture that belief, to create a space for it to thrive.
Well, MAPH 2014, here’s your first chance to look at some excellent thesis work done by members of last year’s class. From the editors of Colloquium:
The MAPH website has a lot of useful information about the Creative Writing Option, including a list of requirements and video discussions with CRWR faculty. However, I know I had a lot of questions about the Option—and creative writing at UChicago in general—around this time last year, so I’ve tried to compile a list of useful information for those of you considering doing some creative writing this year (whether or not you do the track): Continue reading
Bookforum’s Omnivore blog linked to Issue 2 of Colloquium yesterday!
***UPDATED: “The Serpent, Subtle and Brazen: Idolatory, Imagemaking, and the Hebrew Bible,” an essay from Issue 2 by Carina Del Valle Schorske (MAPH ’13) was one of today’s Editor’s Picks over at Mosaic Mag. She’s in great company with writers from The Times Literary Supplement, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, and Moment. Exciting stuff!***
What is Colloquium?
The short answer? It’s MAPH’s online magazine of awesome stuff.
The longer answer? Well, that takes a bit of explaining…
I remember looking around Social Sciences 122, the grand room that marked my first weeks of lecture* at University of Chicago. I swooned at the elaborate wood-paneled walls, the layered chalkboards sliding up and down, the archaic light fixtures. I remember Professor Wray reciting the Big Names who had lectured in SS122, from Hannah Arendt to Slavoj Žižek. I looked around at a room full of strangers, and I wondered if there was an Arendt or a Žižek among us. Toward the end of my MAPH year, I knew the answer to that question….
*also called Colloquium, leading to frequent casual confusion
Wrapping up our series of AWP posts is this one from Jessi Haley.
“AWP is like a music festival,” a friend told me last week. “You have to have a really solid plan so you can see most of the stuff that you want to.”
Okay, I thought, maybe. Maybe that is how you do music festivals. With a plan. I, on the other hand, tend to show up with a vague idea of what is going on when and wait for people and/or circumstances to guide me to the good stuff.
But I took her advice; I pretended like I was at a music festival. I thumbed through the heavy directory, letting my eyes settle on random pages so that the titles of events jumped out at me haphazardly. I listened to the advice of my fellow MAPH people and sometimes followed them places. I skipped readings and panels that were probably informative or even enlightening. On Saturday afternoon, I ran over to Charlestown to spend an hour nervously holding my cousin Vicky’s fragile, squirming newborn when I could have been, I don’t know, acquiring more half-priced copies of Tin House? Continue reading
Continuing our series of AWP posts this one from Ariana Nash (MAPH ’13)
My first AWP, I imagined that someone would ask to read my work, I would meet my future publisher, and maybe there would even be a parade with confetti announcing my presence to the writing world. Or, I didn’t so much imagine this scenario, as find myself surprised when it didn’t happen. Instead, I had a few awkward conversations, bought too many journals I was never going to read, and felt a kind of agony of irrelevance — a stark reminder that I capable of intense egoism and insecurity.
My second AWP, I did a little better. I took home a few journals that helped me find new places to send my work — having not backed away awkwardly from tables or hastily grabbed what someone tried to sell me, but instead stood at their tables reading long enough to decide I liked their journals. I managed to learn a little about book contests, since I was finishing my first manuscript. I also met an editor or two from journals that had published my work. Of course, not to paint too rosy a picture, one editor told me, when I realized I had “introduced myself” without giving my name and belatedly told him who I was, that it didn’t really matter since he wasn’t going to remember my name in a few months anyway. Continue reading