Friday, April 8, 2016

AWP Ain't "My Culture"

For most genre writers, AWP (Association of Writing Programs) is a total non-starter. The conference and book fair bring up images of people asking one another if they are poets, and where they got their MFA. And... that isn't totally incorrect.

Last year, the noir panel was scheduled as the absolute dead last panel, at a time where most attendees had left the conference center. They shoved the crime writers deep in the basement level, on the other side of the conference center, telling us (not subtly at all) that we were the outsiders.

It's no surprise that genre writers and presses look at AWP and think "not for us." Or, like some, they get the hotel room and skip the conference, using the long weekend as an excuse to hang out with friends they only see once a year. This isn't "our culture."

Nah, fuck that.

We make the culture.

L-R: Rios de la Luz, Constance Fitzgerald, Gabino Iglesias, and myself.

I go with LitReactor, where I am on the staff. We're running a course on bizarro fiction right now, which is the furthest thing from the capital-L Literary style of fiction I can imagine. The booths at the book fair that stacked up on crime fiction, bizarro, and other kickass genre fiction sold so many books some of them had to close up shop early.

LitReactor, Booked Podcast, and Broken River Books got together Friday night to eat, drink, and get weird with it. It was a great repeat of the year before - the genre folks find each other, find the good parties, and have a fucking good time. It's one time you can guarantee that the city you're in is filled with book related events and book people. 

What's my point?

If AWP ain't your culture, why the fuck aren't you out there MAKING it your culture? They can't shove us in the basement every year. They can't keep us from showing up with smiles on our faces and having a good time in the sea of booths full of people who seem like they sort of want to be somewhere else. They can't stop us from selling more books than the other guys.

If you have to choose between Boucher and AWP, by all means, pick Boucher. But don't shrug off AWP all together - you'll miss too many great parties.


seana graham said...

I've been to both Boucher and AWP once. I enjoyed both in different ways, but I think it's more about the aims of the different conferences rather than that writers are that different under the skin. AWP is more about the MFA world and so people are more oriented to academia and jobs in it. Bouchercon, as Peter Rozovsky explained it to me is really about the fans, so there is a much more egalitarian feel to it.

Holly West said...

Great post, Renee.