This year at the AWP Conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs), I didn’t go to any panels or workshops. I spent the entire conference at the bookfair, working the Burlesque Press table and wandering around gathering up goodies. While my main goal was to amass enough free candy and literary magazines to tide me over until next year, I did stumble across some magazines and other writing enterprises that were new and exciting (at least to me). Here they are.
EVA’S TOP PICKS: AWP MAGS, PRESSES, & PROGRAMS:
Unstuck – Everyone at AWP now knows about the new annual journal Unstuck because they issued a challenge to the entire conference: write a one page story, using their list of possible plots and settings, for a chance at winning $100. (I chose to write a story set in a saloon about a ghost seeking justice. I didn’t win, but they mentioned me on their facebook page.) I like that they did this because, to me, the point of a writers’ conference should be to write, and I like being given assignments. Also, they were really nice. Also, their journal seems awesome. Unstuck focuses on literary fiction “with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, or the surreal.” Just the sort of stuff I like to read and write. They publish sci-fi and fantasy but also realistic stories “with a twist of the improbable.”
The Review Review – I wish I had known about this website when I was teaching my “Getting Published in Literary Magazines” class. Since 2008, The Review Review has been “dedicated to helping writers navigate the world of literary magazines.” They review journals, interview editors, and offer tips for writing and submitting. They are also currently looking for people who are interested in conducting interviews or writing lit mag reviews. A great way to get interviewing experience andor receive free literary magazines.
Hoot –I wandered over to Hoot because of their sign, which read: Want to Roll a Giant Die? Of course I did. The nice kids at Hoot explained that numbers one through five corresponded to free items I would win. But if the die landed on the scary-looking owl, I would have to face my doom… I rolled the giant die. It bounced along the gray carpet and landed on the giant owl. “Oh no!!” I screamed. “I have to face my doom!” I was now to be marked with a doom-inducing owl stamp, but I could counter-act the doom by buying something from the Hoot table. What was Hoot selling? I’m glad you asked. They were selling postcards featuring poems and short stories. They publish pieces of up to 150 words on illustrated postcards and mail them out to their subscribers. How fun! Poems should be kept short anyway. I like those crazy people at Hoot, and perhaps I should go online right now and buy something from them so I can counter-act the doom.
The Missouri Review’s Audio Competition – First of all, I liked the people at the Missouri Review because they gave me free issues and a free blank book with a cute cover. (Let’s keep my priorities in mind, shall we?) But I was also interested to learn about their 6th annual Audio Competition with substantial cash prizes for audio documentary, prose, and poetry. I like to think I have a good reading voice, so as soon as I figure out how to record stuff on my computer, I’m going to enter this contest.
Extracts – I talked to one of the founders of this online enterprise, and not only was she really nice, she seemed to have an great amount of energy. She and her two other directors put a new piece onto their website every day, along with an original photograph to illustrate it. At AWP they had postcards of some of their favorite pieces, and they have just created the first Extracts anthology. Seems like a good place to submit if you want quick feedback.
Antioch University Los Angeles Creative Writing Program – Not only were the girls representing Antioch’s MFA Program nice and adorable, they were wearing cool jewelry in the shapes of an octopus and daggers, respectively. I was also interested to hear about Antioch’s one-semester, low-residency, post-MFA certificate in teaching Creative Writing. Although I had many wonderful experiences during my low-res MFA, teaching at the college level was not one of them. This program focuses on the pedagogy of teaching writing, arranges an internship for you, and then helps place you in a university teaching position in the region of your choice. Sounds pretty helpful to me, and I will keep it in mind!
The Normal School – The Normal School may have been the only literary magazine selling onesies and toddler-sized t-shirts. I suppose most people don’t think of that since babies can’t read. All I can say is that the Normal School is just plain cool. Their magazine is awesome, their website always looks good, and they have consistently cool t-shirts (in adult sizes, too). They’re also really nice, and once they published one of my stories. Enough said.
Burlesque Press – Of course I must mention Burlesque Press. Not only did we have clever daily catchphrases on our white board, and sexy, high-quality t-shirts for sale, people really did seem excited about what we’ve got planned. Burlesque Press specializes in literary events and writing retreats. We have a 3-day literary festival coming up in New Orleans over New Years Eve. It will feature readings, panels, speakers (Dinty Moore as the keynote), and will culminate with a Masquerade Ball on New Years Eve. We also have writing retreats coming up in Krakow, Poland and Edinburgh, Scotland in 2014. Think you want to go? (Of course you do.) Enter one of the contests online to win a free registration, cash stipend, and featured reading at either the festival in New Orleans or one of the retreats abroad.
Oh yes, and I promised to reveal the weirdest thing I ate at AWP… So, in my wanderings, as I accepted fudge and fortune cookies and truffles and fireballs from all the different magazines, I came across a table offering bacon-flavored jellybeans. Naturally, I had to try one. Unfortunately, it was such an odd and disturbing sensation to be eating a candy-coated jelly that tasted of bacon, I completely stopped paying attention to what the girl was saying to me. I don’t even remember which journal it was because my brain was confused by the bacon beans, and plus I started to worry that my breath smelled of cured meat. So if you were the table handing out the bacon beans, let me know, and I’ll give you the credit you deserve.