Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who Stole Langston & Is This News?

The Steiny Road Poet meant to post yesterday February 8, 2011, when The Washington Post finally made mention of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Convention and Bookfair in what basically turns out to be a gossip column called "The Reliable Source. The Poet had been thinking what a big oversight The Post had made in not covering any aspect of this writers’ gathering where prominent writers from across the world, but particularly American writers gather to discuss ideas, literature, politics, and more as well as present new and old books of importance.

In case you, my Dear Readers, do not subscribe to the venerable institution of print news and, in particular The Washington Post, in a nanosec, here is the story that continues to unfold, two days running, into a polemic against the always generous Andy Shallal, owner of Bus Boys & Poets, a restaurant in Washington, DC. Poet Thomas Sayers Ellis says he stole the cardboard cutout of Langston Hughes that Shallal had had made for Bus Boys, which is named after the poet who had been a restaurant bus boy in Washington, DC, when his first book The Weary Blues was accepted for publication by Knopf. After highjacking the Langston cutout, Ellis paraded it through the AWP Bookfair at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Ellis accuses Shallal of not paying poets fairly for their public readings at Bus Boys.

The Steiny Road Poet stands firm behind Andy Shallal and is OK with the gossip column "The Reliable Source" because it is fun but she takes The Washington Post to task for not giving appropriate coverage to the AWP Convention that included such writers as 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winner Jhumpa Lahiri (Conference Keynote speaker), 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Diaz, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan as well as such topics as the revolutionary changes involving print into digital formats for books, journals, and newspapers. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finding Happiness at 2011 AWP DC

If anyone mentioned that he or she had never seen the Steiny Road Poet happier than the four days she spent at the Associate Writing Programs (AWP) Convention & Bookfair, this would be absolutely true. She has found that passing The Word Works scepter to Nancy White, a former winner of the Washington Prize, has made this literary organization suddenly leap into the future -- we are now taking manuscripts for the Washington Prize electronically. We have a gorgeous new logo. We updated our Internet name to We are sending electronic newsletters. We are saving money with print on demand production of our books. And we bought an expensive piece of real estate at AWP -- a booth with two big tables -- and covered all the costs by selling lots of of our beautiful books!

One particular high point was the celebration reading of selected Washington Prize winners as a scheduled event of the AWP catalogue. There were around 60 people in the audience to hear Nathalie Anderson, Peter Blair, Fred Marchant, Brad Richard, Jay Rogoff, and Enid Shomer. Fred moderated and created a warm community feeling for the program that included more than the usual nods to Nancy and the Steiny Road Poet. And it was February 3, 2011, Gertrude Stein's 137 birthday! Fred chose to read poems by both Nancy & S.R. Poet, including Karren Alenier's "Stein Writes It All Down."

The last day of AWP, the Steiny Road Poet paused for photos with friends Deborah Ager and Reb Livingston, with whom she also had photo opps at the 2009 AWP Conference in Chicago.  How things come full circle.