As every poet/writer/creative writing associate professor already knows, the AWP Conference kicks off today in Boston. For those who don’t know, this is a wild weekend of panels, readings, more readings, book exhibits, more poetry readings, drinking, bad dancing by poets, readings, and general literary funtimes.1
Once again, Open Letter will be attending (both Kaija and I will be there), and once again, we have a table at the end of the end of the world. So if you’re lost up on the second floor of the exhibition center, come see us at Z24, which is probably next to the Dianetics stand, that weirdo puppet guy, and some grad student who makes bongs and bookmarks out of beer cans.2
If you do make it to our stand, we will greet you with a free Thousand Morons T-shirt, and will sell you any of our books—from The Canvas to Maidenhair to Death in Spring to Zone to The Private Lives of Trees to Ergo—for $10 each.
So come see us! And if you can’t find our booth, just check all the parties. We’re gonna rip this scene up and teach you flannel children how publishers party.
1 Oh, and desperation and skinny jeans. Lots and lots of desperation. The vast majority of attendees are young
hipsters writers looking to break into print. So yeah. It’s like a casting couch for lyric poets!
2 Seriously, AWP Adminstrators. Why the shit are we relegated to this part of the exhibition hall? Who do I have to sleep with to get Open Letter—one of the more prestigious independent presses in the country—into a space near our comprable presses? It’s really irritating to be floors away from NYRB and New Directions and Graywolf and all the areas where people actually buy books . . . Seriously. There are start-up presses publishing single poems on the back of napkins that have better placement than we do. These presses won’t even be around next year, after their bearded directors blow all their sales money (“Oh, I just love the concreteness of your publishing enterprise. Napkin poems make me feel so alive.”) on fake mushrooms and more skinny jeans. Then again, writers generally don’t, and creative writing programs definitely don’t have any sense of perspective, so I guess it only makes sense that your exhibition hall layout is so jacked. Congratulations!
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .