Well, after the crowds and action of AWP, I am back in my basement office, only now I have new friends and new books to read and discover. But I’ll save that list of new friends and new books for a later blog, and tell you today about the top highlights of the conference.
One highlight was meeting Susan Yount and Margaret Bashaar who were my tablemates. Have you heard of Arsenic Lobster Poetry? If not, look it up. And I am not the only who thinks you should. The journal just got a great review in The Review Review. Susan Yount is its dedicated editor. Published three times a year online and then once yearly as a print anthology, Arsenic Lobster’s name (taken from a Lorca quote) might draw you in but the content will keep you reading.
Margaret Bashaar is a micropublisher whose Hyacinth Girl Press puts out several chapbooks a year. Titles include “Nocturnes” by Kathleen Kirk, “Wicked Apples” by Susan Slaviero, “Book Four” by Niina Pollan, and “Thirteen Designer Vaginas” by Juliet Cook. Forthcoming titles from the press include “Salt Ballads” by Brooklyn Copeland, “Home Bodies” by Sarah J. Sloat, and “Catastrophe Theory” By Susan Yount. Margaret has her own chapbook “Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel” published by Blood Pudding in 2011. It got a stellar review in Melusine, The Blog. The geeky imprint of Hyacinth Girl Press is Prime Directive Press which put out a Star Trek anthology called “Make It So.”
Together Susan and Margaret are also “poetry whores.” Lest you think I am diss-ing them, let me explain it is a term they use for themselves as part of The Chicago Poetry Bordello. Susan is Madame Black-Eyed Susan and Margaret is Claire Remette. I attended the show Wednesday Night (A Leap-Year Valentine) at the Chopin Theatre. It was a whole new way for me to see poetry performed. I paid my token for a private reading with Claire (she said I was her first) and enjoyed watching a fan dance by Pearl Pistol.
As I had never attended an AWP Conference before I didn’t know what to expect. But once I saw that Philip Levine would be there speaking with Carol Ann Duffy (Poet Laureate of Great Britain), I knew I wanted to go to the conference to meet him. For those of you who don’t know why I was so intent on meeting Philip Levine, I will refer you to pages 126 to 131 of Solace in So Many Words where two poems (“Songs” and “Waking in Alicante”) written by the U. S. Poet Laureate are reprinted.
The International Ballroom was packed for this Poetry Foundation-sponsored event. I was taken with the poems of Carol Ann Duffy. First she read from her book The World’s Wife (Anvil Poetry Press). She read “Mrs. Midas,” “The Devil’s Wife” and “Mrs. Beast.” Then she read from her latest book The Bees (Picador). Philip Levine read some of my favorites: “The Two,” “Gospel” and “Of Love and Other Disasters.” Then Poetry Magazine’s Senior Editor Don Share led a discussion. After this, Carol Ann Duffy and Phil signed books and I was able to meet him and thank him for being in Solace in So Many Words. I asked him to sign two copies of Solace in So Many Words (one for each of my sons) and also a copy (for me) of On the Edge, which was published by The Second Press in 1964. My thanks to Mark Wiley for taking the pix.