Sat., Feb 2nd, evening


No doubt this will only only be further proof of how odd I am, but to me the most fascinating moment of these shows comes right at the end. One minute everything is all bright & neat & polished, and the atmosphere is one of leisurely browsing, sampling of candies, and casual chatting about the subtle pleasures of these refined arts. Then in a matter of maybe ten minutes there's a massive set change: curtains come down, tape guns start making that peculiar ripping sound, burly union workers come riding out on mini-forklifts from behind collapsible walls and start yelling at people, packing peanuts & abandoned catalogs are thrown in all directions, and the people working the booth stop suppressing their exhaustion and deep desire to go home. It's not uncommon to hear whoops of various kinds as the end of the show is announced.

Then, Jet Blue took us home. No reading about Zukofsky this time, my brain could only take TV now. I watched, back to back, seven episodes of Ace of Cakes on the Food Network. Sheesh.

The last award goes to Nick Robinson, husband o' Laura, for picking her and me up at the SF airport at nearly midnight (that'd be 3AM east coast time). Let's call it MOST RELIABLE WHEN YOU REALLY, REALLY NEED IT:


Sat., Feb 2nd, afternoon

PEOPLE OF THE AWP, last installment:

(Above, SPD is the Official Home of the Brown(e)s. Laynie Browne is to the left, Lee Ann Brown is to the right, both longtime SPD authors & supporters.)

(Above, Clay Banes of Pegasus Books shows off his choice for Best Bookfair Treasure: Anne Boyer's newest.)

(Above, it's all about the intensity. SPD intern & Bay Area gadabout Michael Nicoloff to the left, Anna Moschovakis of Ugly Duckling to the right.)

(Above, Michael Kelleher of the Just Buffalo literary org, and also a former classmate of mine from U. Buffalo days. As you can tell from his stance in this photo, he's considering pulling his Beretta out of his jacket to force everyone at the show to read better poetry.)


(Quick note to SPD publishers: these shots were taken Sunday afternoon, after we had SOLD OUT of quite a few books we brought, so if your book was supposed to be there it most certainly was. Our sales have been tremendous, breaking all records for previous shows!)

(Above, the requisite group photo of the core SPD'ers at this AWP, l to r: Michael Nicoloff, Intern & Intrepid Volunteer; Brent Cunningham, Operations Director; Laura Moriarty, Deputy Director; and Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director.)



Sat., Feb 2, mid-morning


Last night, while Laura read her heart out at the Omnidawn reading, I went off through the rain to the dinner set up by our gourmand & leader Jeffrey L., & which included many from SPD sister-org CLMP, Eric Lorberer from Rain Taxi, folks from Milkweed Editions, others from Orion magazine, Rob Casper from the Poetry Society of America, others I met and have now forgotten the names of, and Amy Stolls and Rose from the NEA. It was at an excellent Korean BBQ place in, I believe, Koreatown? You know, you just go where you're led in these cases: coulda been Koreatown, coulda been Queens, coulda been Berkeley.

(Above, some of the gathered from the various lit orgs, including Amy Stolls on the far right, one of the great advocates for literary orgs in our dear land. She was later drawn into making some clownish faces for the camera which I considered posting, but instead I will be selling them privately back to her, or perhaps in some kind of blackmail exchange for large NEA grants to work on my bubblegum sculpture project.)

More awards to announce:


(Above, this goes hands-down to Omnidawn, a variety of high-quality truffles and sundry other chocolate lovelies. If you aren't familiar with "trade show culture," you might not know that people often put candy or other delectables on their table to draw people over, then while they're munching there's suddenly an attempt to sell them a book (or, at other trade shows, things like F-1 Fighter Planes). Sounds crass, I know, but it's very much the way it's done. Bait and switch? You'll have to decide, Blog Readers, for yourselfs--)


(Above, I'm giving this to Tyrone Williams. Despite his somewhat aloof and positively cool look in this photo, he's secretly one of the sweetest people I know. Also one of the best poets anywhere, in my op. I'm told I was the FIRST to buy his new book, On Spec, just out from Omnidawn, but won't be anything like the last.)


(Probably for the 10th year in a row, this'll have go to Jonathan Rabinowitz from Turtle Point Press. The scarf! The bow tie! The layering of colors and fabrics! Poets, study this man closely, he has much to teach you--)


(Above, inveterate blogger Amy King with g-friend Anna. Amy's new book is just out, I'm the Man Who Loves You, and who was, I believe, was once named Poet Blogger of the Year. I said "I'll put this on our blog" and she said "I'll blog about it." Sweet infinite regress--)


Fri., Feb 1, early evening

It's raining in NY, but I wouldn't know it except for a brief lunch at the deli across the street. Otherwise, it's been the Hilton "House of Flourescents & Bad Carpet" all the time. Exciting moment when the fire alarm went off. Official voice during the beeping: "I am the fire marshal. We have a report of an alarm, and are currently investigating the cause. We will tell you as soon as we have more information." Took about five minutes to be told it was, to use the phrase literally for once, a false alarm.

(Above, Laura begins the day freshly, in her fancy new wardrobe and dynamite scarf. Soon 8 hours of standing and talking will reduce her look of optomistic delight rather significantly--see below for what happened to Marty.)

(Above, breaking news, Marty Riker of Dalkey Archive is a Zombie.)

(Above, Laura with Mei Mei Berssenbrugge.)

(Above, my first time meeting of Joyelle McSweeney of Action Books, charming as expected.)

(Above: How do you get a bunch of poets at a conference of poets to congregate in one place? Wesleyan Press is kitty-corner to our booth, and their answer was Jean Valentine. At least 15 people were lined up to buy her book and get it signed--pretty impressive showing in a place like this.)

(Above, the book I'm currently most desiring at the show, also at the Wesleyan booth. Here's my plan: I'm hoping they drop one on the floor, thus dinging the spine, thus realizing they have to give it away, thus looking around for a candidate, and there I'll be across the way--)

(Above, we already have a winner for Best Name at the AWP. I checked, it's her given name. O, 1960s, you shall live on in your anti-establishment naming habits.)

Thurs., Jan 31, late evening

I was getting a little tired of taking so many pictures of the parade of people and faces, no matter how lovely and valiant-in-the-service-of-literature, so I tried taking pictures of shoes instead. You can tell a lot by a person's shoes & all. However, let's be gentle dear readers--these are mostly small press publishers dressing to stand in a booth for 8 hours. Even so, I give you the SHOES OF THE AWP:

(Above, I was partly persuaded here by the quality of the pants. These fine italian's belong to always well-dressed Eric Keenaghan. Jeffrey Lependorf's last-second entry into the contest can be seen in the lower left.)

(Above, Matvei Yankelevich of Ugly Ducking, left, with Cris Mattison of Zephyr Press, right. Someone should make a shoe out of this section of the Hilton's carpet.)

(Above, Rebecca Wolff and Joshua M. Potter of Fence Books, demonstrating the range of options available to the AWP goer.)

(Above, Rusty Morrison and Ken Keegan of Omnidawn, looking a far sight more comfortable than I was today.)

(Above, unnamed publisher at the CLMP party. Mostly I appreciated the break on the pants.)

(Above is the runner up, whose name I sadly didn't get. Same with the WINNER, below, based less on the shoes of course than their furry traveling companions.)

(Note that the corner of my own shoe made it in to that last photo. Seeking its own kind of deflected glory, no doubt.)

(Vote for your own favorite. Vote often, as the votes will certainly not be tallied.)

On that note, day one of the Bookfair is in the bag. G'night.


Thurs., Jan 31, evening

SPD and CLMP publisher party, at the CLMP offices on Christopher street, was officially the best party out of many (from reliable reporters) this evening. Publishers spilling out into the hall, I learned a lot about translation from a couple rather intimidating translator types ("Uh, was that 7 languages you speak fluently? Not bad, not bad"). Saw too many to name, Mark from Junction, Tej from Cool Grove, Dark Brandon, Steve from Granary, James from Roof, etc., etc.

(Annie Janusch, left, and Promita Chatterji, right, of the Center for Art in Translation. So many people from the Bay Area, but we had to fly to New York to meet them--)



Thurs., Jan 31, late afternoon

Running off to the CLMP and SPD publisher party, but here's a few more faces from today:

(Above, poet & teacher Tonya Foster & my own self, looking a bit dazed)

(Our fashion-forward exec. director and the ever-charming Karen Gisonny of the NY Public library)

Yikes, lookit the time, must run--


Thurs., Jan 31, afternoon

The parade of faces begins, many new, many familiar. Here's just a few (we can't possibly get everyone, and apologies also if i misspell any names, or get them wrong entirely. This is Live!). LOTS of traffic around our booth, although other publishers in other "halls" report less active passersby.

(Above, Amy Catanzano of Naropa)

(Above, Lawrence Schimel, of new SPD Press A Midsummer Night's Press)

(Above, Eric Lorberer of Rain Taxi. Later I learned there was a fierce argument at the bars as to whether the color of his shirt was salmon, watermelon, or cranberry.)

(Above, Laura talks to Joan Retallack.)

(Above, Michael Marcinkowski, the Web Producer for the Poetry Foundation, and only poet at the show taller than I am. At nearly 6 foot 9, I believe he is taller than Kit Robinson, whom I had previously suspected to be the tallest poet in America.)

(Above, Jessica Smith, blogger & writer & publisher & new NY resident.)

This is a very small sampling, but maybe it give an idea what being at a table at a literary bookfair is like (although WHY anyone would want to know that is its own curious question). There's a lot of talking, a lot of meeting people, a lot of quietly looking down at the badge of someone whose name you probably SHOULD know. But more importantly, there's also been a lot of selling of books so far, and it's really lovely to see the enthusiasm for the titles.

Last, reaching for the heights of self-reflexivity, here is an image of your inveterate cub blogger even whilst he blogs upon blogger rather than lunching:


Thurs., Jan 31, morning

Laura here. Took the Jetblue poet express yesterday to NY. About half the plane was poets. Lost of berets (no kidding) and other odd literary outfits. Sat in front of Albert Flynn DeSilver (Owl Press, among many other hats) and behind Clay Banes (buyer for Pegasus books) and SPD volunteer & writer & former Kitchen Sink editor Kaya Oakes with whom I shared a cab into town. Sunny in NY today but we won’t be out in it. Reported into the exhibits at 8:30. Brent talking to poets this minute. Look! Jaimie Robles borrow one of our chairs.


Wed, Jan 30, later evening

With Laura arriving this evening, I went off to really the only offical "meeting" I'll attend here, for LitNet. Jim Sitter does vital work representing the interests of literary orgs "on the Hill" as he says and to the NEA generally. Would no doubt be dry stuff to some, but he's done a lot to help or maintain the NEA budget for grants to literary orgs like SPD over the past decade, and I found it very interesting. Maybe I'm a wonk?

(At the head of the table & head of Litnet, above, from l to r: Elliot Figman, of Poets & Writers, Jim Sitter in the middle, and David Fenza, who is the head of the AWP & thus running this entire circus.)

Then off to more directly poetical endeavors, a reading at St. Mark's by Dan Machlin and Jen Hofer. Dan's book is on Ugly Duckling ("my publishers") and he also runs Futurepoem and so will be at the show tomorrow. Jen's from the Bay Area but now teaching in LA, great translator of many a younger female mexican poet of late. Great readings, as expected.

Afterward to the Telephone Bar, apparently one of two traditional after-St. Mark's-readings bars, & talked to too many poets to number here (I'm also running off to the bookfair as I post this, & realizing how impossibe it'll be to keep any kind of tally of everyone I'm running into). But those I remembered to photograph were:

(Above, Julian Brolaski, former SPD intern & now NYer, and Michael Nicoloff, former NYer & now a consistent SPD volunteer -- he'll be at the booth saturday helping sell books.)

(Above, the fabulous Alana Wilcox, editor-in-chief of the also-fabulous Coach House Books up in Toronto, SPD publishers, and seller of 20 thousand copies, as she told me last night, of Christian Bok's EUNOIA. Possibly some kind of record for a book of constraint-based experimental poetry?)


Wed, Jan 30, 5:45pm

Just spent the day setting up the tables. Here's a BEFORE shot:

Here's the AFTER my heroic labors (they'll clean up more tonight):

Poets everywhere of course...here's Joseph Lease (teacher at CCA) from our coast, and Joshua Beckman (Wave Books) from the opposite one:

The bookfair this year is HUGE. I mean even compared to last year it seems enormous! See the shot of our table above? That's one PART of one room. Here's part of room 2:

And more of Room 2, with lots of tables around the corner you can't see:

And here's ROOM 3:

And MORE of Room 3:

And even MORE of Room 3:

Honestly I'm a little overwhelmed at how giant this thing has gotten. Any single one of these shots would have been the approximate number of total tables there were in Palm Springs the first year I went. It certainly evinces some kind of poetry publishing explosion. I hope some readers & bookbuyers show up the next few days in response.