In this new series, editors of the Poetry International Chapbook Series and Poetry International staff will discuss the process of running a contemporary press and literary journal: from collaborating with fellow editors to navigating design technologies to promoting a new publication, and all the spaces in between.
Reader and Writer Heaven Found
By Emily Pooley
As soon as I walked into the Los Angeles Convention Center, I felt giddy. The main space was lined with rows and rows of different publishers and presses, both big and small, eager to start sharing their stories and books with you. If you have never had the opportunity to go to AWP (Association of Writers &Writing Programs) you should definitely fix that; they plan in advance where each annual AWP conference will be held for three years, so make sure that you check out if one will be hosted near you under future conferences on their website. This year’s was held in Los Angeles, and I was so lucky to be able to go and see what exactly it was about.
On their website it says that it is an “essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors and publishers” so naturally I brought my brother with me who doesn’t exactly fit into any of those categories. We walked along the different tables that were in the book fair and found some pretty interesting presses. One table that really caught our eye was CallMeIshmael, which had three phones set up with voicemails of people leaving book reviews. The idea behind CallMeIshmael, was that you could call the number and leave a message recommending a book you really loved for others to be able to hear. I chose to listen to a recording about Harry Potter, and the woman who left the message truly put her heart and soul into how Harry Potter had an influence on her life.
After walking through the book fair we decided to go to some of the panels offered. We first went to one regarding screen writing and the new screen media. It was really interesting to hear how the screenwriting industry is changing with our current digital age, and how screenwriting crosses platforms and they can be marketing their work toward a movie, a TV show, a game, or an app. We later went to a panel entitled, “Does Travel Writing Have a Place In the Age of Instagram and Google Earth?” which discusses how travel writing is different from when the panelists (all seasoned travel writers) first started compared to now. Now people, readers and writers alike, can gain all of the knowledge and research about a destination from a website or quick google search as opposed to the actual experiences they have on the trip. They also discussed how that process can return to the more original approach in areas that have lower internet accessibility. One of the most interesting questions that ended up being discussed was what sort of responsibilities the writer has to their audience and also the people they encountered on their travels today. In the past, their article or book may not have ever reached the people living in that area, but now they have easier access to the content, and the writer feel that they have to make the depictions of the cities, villages, or destinations that much more accurate.
When the day was over my brother and I headed home, and I asked him what he thought of the event. He told me that he enjoyed himself and it was cool to see what it is I do and that now he has an idea of what to tell people of what my job looks like. However the most rewarding part of my day was when my dad asked my brother about the event and he seemed to get really excited when talking about the panels that he saw that day. I could tell that he really was engaged in the discussions and did enjoy his time there, he may even be interested in travel writing with his current job of being a pilot.
I encourage you to attend this event next year if you have the opportunity and bring along anyone who is willing to spend the day with you. This conference has something for everyone no matter their level of interest or connection to reading and writing.