Thursday, March 8, 2012

AWP Recap--Part One

I got back from the AWP late Monday, but I came back sick and got sicker once home. So I haven’t managed to dig through all the email and mail and haven’t put up a blog post. Since I’ve received many photos from AWP, I thought I'd put up a little illustrated recap (which will take two days and blog posts). Then, on Monday, I will review Fred Arroyo’s new book of short fiction for the Books of Interest by Writers of Color series, getting back on track.

We got into Chicago late Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Hilton, picked up our registration for the conference, and began setting up the book tables. Ben had the two BkMk and New Letters tables to set up. My publisher and book table partner, Luis J. Rodriguez, and I set up the combined Tia Chucha Press/ Scapegoat Press table.

Here, my friend and publisher, Luis J. Rodriguez, and I sit down at the finished Tia Chucha Press/Scapegoat Press table. Once the AWP authorities chased us out of the book fair, we left for a nearby restaurant, Rhapsody, for the 25th anniversary dinner of Tia Chucha Press authors. 

It was great to see old friends like Carlos Cumpian and LJR and to meet new ones such as Michael Warr, Patricia Smith, Patricia Spears Jones, Dwight Okita, and Luivette Resto. We had lots of fun and carried on until late. HIGHLIGHT: Patricia Spears Jones giving a “reading” of the rather pretentious dessert menu that had us in stitches. I have got to attend one of this woman’s poetry readings!

Here I am with Patricia Spears Jones, lovely NYC poet.

Next morning, the conference was on and the book fair opened. I was excited because we were displaying our newest Scapegoat Press book, Woven Voices: 3 Generations for Puertorriqueñas Look at their American Lives. I edited this anthology and am very proud of it. There’s really no book like this out there on the market.

The gorgeous cover got lots of attention from passersby, and a surprising number stopped and let me tell them about this unique book, which is a conversation in poetry among three members of a gifted Puerto Rican family—grandmother Anita Vélez-Mitchell, mother Gloria Vando, daughter Anika Paris. The book began to sell steadily, reviewers asked for copies, and I was a happy camper--even though I was missing all the conference panels.
I missed all the panels I wanted to go to because I was caught at the book table. I didn't make a panel until my own on the last day. 

There was a Celebration of Tia Chucha Press, my publisher.

Here’s Luivette (“I live in LA, but I’m from New York”) Resto after the Celebration of Tia Chucha Press.

My friend Francisco Alarçon was on a number of panels I would love to have attended but had to miss.

Still, thousands of people came through the book fair, and I had a chance to talk with many of them. Such a wild variety of people! What a feast of character for a novelist! Of course, it helps that I believe so strongly in all the books I was selling, both Scapegoat's and Tia Chucha's.

Thursday ended with Luis coming to take my place so I could hurry over to the Ragdale reception where I was a co-host. I'll post photos from that and the rest of the conference tomorrow.

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