Patricia Smith’s PRINCE PURPLE POETRY PARTY was standing room only. The crowd crooned and shouted, “Fuck you!!! You’re breaking my heart.” When Danez Smith performed his rendition of “23 Positions In a One Night Stand” the room overflowed with bottom pride.
Rachel McKibbens exited The Record Room in a royal purple dress and fur jacket. I said, “You look fabulous,” loud enough so she could hear me. If I could do it again I’d say, “You’re way more powerful than any themed outfit.”
We fogged the glass exterior of OOTN at the Paris Is Still Burning reading. The room was the same temperature as the inside of our mouths. The poems made me want to lie flat on my back and not move for a long time. I’m still thinking about Charif Shanahan’s description of how a family dinner went down in Morocco.
Brandi Wells described cutting off a woman’s arms then cooking her body in the sun. Afterwards we shared our feelings about tanning.
I ate tater tots and fried cheese curds for dinner.
So many writers whose work I admire were walking around being real people that I could say “Hi” to. I said “Hi” to them and hugged my friends tightly every chance I got.
I was nervous and sweaty before the Greywolf Press' panel, “Argonaut, Citizen, Empathy, Inoculation: New Nonfiction with Eula Biss, Leslie Jamison, Maggie Nelson, and Claudia Rankine.” Eileen Myles sat on the floor in the front row and asked if writing nonfiction now is like making art film in the 1950’s. I’m pretty sure everyone wished she’d moderated the panel instead.
Following the panel, I went up to Leslie Jamison and said, “Thank you for making Tilly.”
Tilly is the troubled, older alcoholic woman character from Jamison’s novel The Gin Closet. I practiced saying it in my head, but still couldn't stop myself from sobbing when the words came out. She asked if she could hug me. I said, “Yes.” She hugged me. I’m embarrassed but glad the whole thing happened.
Richard Peabody’s party was a pocket of Washington, DC in a conference center banquet room. A woman made refrigerator magnets of all the books he’s published. I took two. He read from his life’s work. You could tell he meant something to every single person in the room.
The official AWP dance party was awful. Just outside the door to the horrible party, a small group of my friends and I couldn’t resist dancing to Rihanna. We jumped around so much that we risked injury by statement necklace.
After it was all over, I joined my dear friend Brittany Fonte and her mother at her family’s pizza shop. We both ordered taco pizzas. I got meat. She didn’t.
On the Shuttle ride home from the airport at 3:00 AM, I listened to Amber Tamblyn on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast with my earbuds while the driver blasted Christian rock and a woman sitting in the front seat sang along.
The whole experience reminded about PATIENCE and revision. PATIENCE and revision. PATIENCE and revision.