Pshares @ AWP 2011 in DC – A Recap in Two Parts (pt. 1)

Author: | Posted in Events 3 Comments

Although we just entered the Year of the Rabbit, it feels like we’re still stuck in the Year of the Never-ending Snowstorms. Rain, wind, and snow disrupted travel plans for many who hoped to attend The AWP (The Association for Writers & Writing Programs) Conference in Washington, DC this past week. Ladette Randolph (Ploughshares Editor-in-Chief) and I were looking at canceled flights on Wednesday, the day we originally planned on making the trip down. Ladette and I have roots in Nebraska and New England, respectively, so of course we didn’t let a silly thing like weather keep us away from our most important literary event of the year. Plus, eight and a half hour train rides are much better than hour and a half flights for catching up on reading.

So, after some slight hiccups, we made it to DC. Here’s Ladette at the Ploughshares table after we set up. (We were in “Emerson Row,” between Emerson College and Redivider, the grad student publication.) Doesn’t our table look nice?

You might notice the empty easel. Later in the day, we put up a new 40th Anniversary poster, which debuted the cover for the Spring 2011 issue guest-edited by Colm Tóibín. The artwork, entitled The Spain Suites I, 2010, is by Valerie Brennan, an Irish-born artist.

(We’ll have a Q&A with Valerie on the blog closer to the issue’s debut, April 2011.)

Speaking of Ploughshares’ 40th Anniversary, we had some special events at AWP to help celebrate our milestone. Terrance Hayes and Elizabeth Strout discussed their guest-editing experiences in a discussion moderated by Ladette. (Unfortunately, our other scheduled presenters Eleanor Wilner and Kathryn Harrison were unable to make the event due to The Year of the Never-ending Snowstorms.) I’ll have a video of the discussion later this week so those of you who were unable to attend can enjoy Hayes’ and Strout’s wit and wisdom.

from left: Terrance Hayes, Ladette Randolph & Elizabeth Strout

Right after the 40th Anniversary panel, I ran off to meet up with some new friends from other lit journals. I say new because more than half of them I had only corresponded with and never met in person. However, as proof that it’s a small world after all, Molly Auerbach (pictured below) was briefly my roommate in college before she transferred schools, and now she works at Electric Literature.

from left: Martin Rock (Managing Editor of Epiphany Magazine), Heather Christle, poet, Tyler Meier (Managing Editor of The Kenyon Review), me, Tanya Rey (Managing Editor of One Story), Cheston Knapp (Managing Editor of Tin House), Christopher Boucher (Managing Editor of Post Road), Carolyn Kuebler (Managing Editor of the New England Review), Michael Nye (Managing Editor of The Missouri Review), Cara Blue Adams (Managing Editor of The Southern Review), James Flaherty (Associate Editor of The Kenyon Review), and last but not least, Molly Auerbach (Associate Editor of Electric Literature).

It was such a pleasure to get to know all of these people a little better, not only because they are lovely people (without exception) but because now we are discussing strategies, swapping stories of successes and failures, and learning together how to navigate evolving technologies. I was talking to Hattie Fletcher (Managing Editor of Creative Nonfiction) later in the week and we discussed how important it is for publishers to share ideas and collaborate. After all, we’re not competitors, rather members of the same community.

I’ve taken you up to Thursday night — stay tuned for the recap of Friday and Saturday at AWP, coming up in Part 2.