AWP for first time folk

For those going to AWP for the first time, I’m sure you have gotten tons of advice. Here’s a bit of mine, though it is limited by my experience.
  1. Wear comfortable shoes. 
  2. Statement accessory.  Scarf, hat, earrings, the coolest shoes ever, whatever.  A friend of mine told me this years ago.  It makes you easy to find and easy to remember.  
  3. Take advantage of Southwest’s two bags free policy.  Bring one empty bag inside your checked luggage.  You are going to get a lot of books through trade or buying.  
  4. Buy books you love early.  They will not be there by Saturday.  Check out the journals and presses again on Saturday.  They generally sell discount copies then.
  5. Go to author signings.  
  6. Carry a well-balanced and empty backpack for the days.  You will fill this with books that you place with love into your empty suitcase when you get back to your hotel. No matter how well you plan it, you will probably end up with a stuffed bag at the end of the conference.
  7. Carry small bills and cash.  You will be a press’s best friend.  
  8. Hit the tables where all the flyers are.  Pick them up, keep them organized.  I spend part of my evenings submitting.  Oftentimes a journal will extend its deadline after AWP.  
  9. Go to readings on site and off site.  
  10. Set up your schedule on AWP site in advance.  Write in your alone time and time for friends.  Set up breakfast and lunch.  If you are anything like me, you will find that you forget meals or get overwhelmed by the people and need a quite space.  There is a Yoga Room at AWP that I will definitely be using, if only just to get my corpse pose/sleep on.
  11. Party and maintain your awareness.  Maintain your critical eye, keep your wits about you, and know your people.  
  12. And if you have the ability in the future, fly Southwest or another carrier that allows you to check bags for free and always get a hotel room with an extra bed.  There’s always someone whose plans fall through and needs a place to crash.  This year, I’m booked out, but it’s a practice that I keep up for every conference.  I remember what it was like to be filled with the spirit and go to a conference, crash on the floor, or go from hotel room to hotel room with friends.  It’s nice to have a comfy bed to offer.    
  13. If you haven’t had at least one experience where you felt like packed in a clown car in taking a taxi to an off-site reading; gone to a fish fry in someone’s house; had an impromptu music and poetry session; found yourself in a blind rage after attending a panel and end up collaborating with others about a response project; ended up dancing all night with your favorite writer; or otherwise had a writerly adventure, you are not doing AWP right, so go back and try again.  

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