Now that I’ve had a couple weeks to catch up on life post-AWP, I’ve had time to reflect on my experience attending the conference a second time. I had a fantastic time at AWP ’10. It’s a much better experience when you actually know people; I really enjoyed working at the bookfair with my co-editor and meeting so many contributors; and there was, of course, the EPIC dance party on Saturday night that was everything I had been told it would be and so much more. You have not lived until you see a bunch of hot, sweaty writers dancing awkwardly (myself included), and I do mean awkwardly, to Tone Loc.
At several points during AWP, friends and acquaintances would riff on the theme of AWP standing for All White People and we would laugh and move on to the next topic of conversation but there was a certain truth to the comments that was… uncomfortable.
Now that April Fool’s Day is past, I just want to take a minute and thank Cave Canem, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Tao Lin for all being such good sports about my “Tao Lin Wins Cave Canem First Book Prize” post from yesterday. It was, of course, complete nonsense. As Cave Canem’s executive director, Alison Meyers, rightly pointed out in our comments section: the deadline for the Cave Canem Prize isn’t even until April 30th, so there was really no way this could possibly be true (I mean on top of all the other reasons it couldn’t be and also isn’t true).
John K, on his blog J’s Theater, thought the post was generally clever, which I appreciate, but he also felt that “the fake quotes attributed to Komunyakaa are indefensable…” He’s probably right about that, so I’ve gone ahead and added an “UPDATE: APRIL FOOLS'” to the top of the post, just so future Google-searchers don’t get the wrong idea. John K also felt that I took “a backhanded swipe at last year’s CC First Book Prize submittees and black poets in general…” Let me state for the record that no swipes were intended, backhanded or otherwise, I just read on the Cave Canem site that no prize was awarded in 2008, and improvised from there.
In an age of instant verification, a little extra creativity (and deceit) is called for, hence the superficially “logical” but basically insane quotes from Komunyakaa, who himself was only chosen for “quotation” because he happens to be judging the prize this year. (Hardcore Tao Lin fans may have noted that the purported title of his book, “Organic Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut Oil,” was a longer poem he was working on a few years ago. Parts of it were published in Agriculture Reader #2. He later abandoned the project.)
As for why I chose Cave Canem, it’s because they’re an eminently respectable publication and organization whose results for this year’s prize haven’t yet been announced. Plus their website had enough information on it for me to construct a semi-credible story in the time-frame I had (the one actually true part of the post, is that I slung it together in the half hour before I had to go teach my two sections of 101). Anyway, once more, with feeling: many thanks to all involved, especially the unwitting. Maybe next year we’ll announce that Nathaniel Mackey has won the FENCE Alberta Prize. Until then, cheers!