Monday, March 11, 2013

AWP: Snow, Friends, and Award News

I feel as if I'm just starting to emerge from a rather unbelievable state of excitement. The last few days have been surprising and wonderful. Going to AWP is always a crazy experience. Being surrounded by that many writers in one place is both fun and overwhelming. My AWP experience, however, was shaped quite a bit by the news I received last Wednesday morning when I was preparing to head to Boston.

On Wednesday, I found out that my book, He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices, is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and the Thom Gunn Poetry Award. This was a surprising way to start AWP. These are two great honors and I was truly shocked to be a finalist for both. I'm up against some very accomplished poets and have the added honor of being the first from my press (Sibling Rivalry) to be a finalist for either award.

Going into AWP with this news was great. I truly appreciate all of the congratulations I received online and in person from friends and strangers alike and if anyone said anything hateful about it behind my back, I appreciate it even more (you haven't made it until people start hating you). It was extra exciting to get to celebrate this news with parts of my SRP family including Bryan Borland. Working with Bryan and Sibling Rivalry has been an amazing experience and to have my book get this recognition is truly amazing. I'm so proud of the book and the work that was put into it by me and the press. Bryan gave me so much control of the process and made sure we were putting together the best book possible and for that I'm extremely thankful. The Thom Gunn Award winner with be announced in April and the Lammys are in June. Both take place in New York, so I'll easily be able to attend both ceremonies.

This year's AWP was a snowy one. Boston welcomed us with a snowstorm that provided my friend Jaclyn (a Floridian) with the opportunity to make her first snowball. It was great to spend time with her and see so many of my other friends. I also met new people and finally got to see some of you face to face after being friends online. The convention center in Boston was a nice location. It was a much bigger space than last year's Chicago AWP. You could actually breathe in the book fair. I picked up quite a few books and journals and went to a few interesting panels (including a trans reading and a deaf reading).

On Thursday evening, I attended and read at a giant queer reading called Queertopia (perhaps one of the biggest queer readings at AWP ever?). It was a great opportunity to mingle with the queers and hear some poetry. I also never pass up a chance to make a girl cry by reading my fisting poem (this actually happened).

By Saturday the snow had stopped and Jaclyn and I made our way to Harvard and spent the day enjoying the sights. Oh and on Friday I had the best cannoli ever at Mike's Pastry Shop in the North End.

AWP was a great success. I'm still in a bit of shock as I get back to normal life (well, is my life ever really normal?). I'm excited for all that is ahead and for all the places my first book has taken me.

-Stephen (High)


  1. And thanks for attending my panel ;) it was like.having royalty.