Heading off to AWP and Remembering Jim Harrison

I am heading to the Associated of Writers and Writing Programs conference this week. It’s in Los Angeles this year which doesn’t bode
well for this Alaska acclimated girl, but we’ll see. The conference is the
largest annual meeting of writers, teachers, editors, and publishers. I think
this year is my fifth or sixth time going. I always return with amazing new
books, new ideas, and new friends. But not without a corresponding toll of
Part of what amuses me about the AWP conference is that writers
tend to be introverts, and when you get a bunch of introverts (say 11,000 of
us) in one venue, social codes of behavior become a little skewed. Eye-contact,
alcohol consumption, humble-bragging, and awkward self-promotion. Still, I can
not stress enough that people are generous, and the presentations and readings
are brilliant and breath-taking. Plus, it’s often the only time that I see
writers from around the state of Alaska. We often joke that we have to travel
to the Lower-48 to hang out!
Attending conferences is one way you can nurture your writer
self (and by the way, you’ve got one more month to register at the early bird
rate for the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference). Attending workshops. Going to
readings and other writerly events. Reading. Sharing your work with other people.
Sending it out to be published. All ways to nurture your craft, grow it, tend
We lost another great this week: Jim Harrison. A consummate
writer of all three genres, Harrison eschewed academia, fame, and most of the
trappings of “the writer life.” He lived a big life on his own terms, and he
wrote beautifully on his own terms. Here’s a Harrison quote that makes me want
to get my butt in gear and write, “Death steals everything except our stories.” Rest in peace, Jim Harrison.
I’ll report out on the AWP shenanigans next week. If you’re
going to be there, please comment on this post and we’ll try to find each
other. Otherwise, I hope you get a lot of good writing done this week.

take care,

3 thoughts on “Heading off to AWP and Remembering Jim Harrison”

  1. Erin,
    Your post made me reach for Harrison's book–The Theory & Practice of Rivers and New Poems, poems from the '80s. There's a poem there I adore–"Looking Forward to Age." But also the last poem, "Counting Birds," which ends this way: O birds, I'll sing to myself, you've carried/ me along on this bloody voyage,/ carry me now into that cloud, into the marvel of this final night."

  2. Fantastic! My university's literary magazine is heading to AWP, and we're very excited. Come check us out at Table #448! It's really great to be in one place with so many different writers and readers. Also, your post is a great homage to Jim Harrison. I just heard of his death, and it's very sad that he is now gone. At least we will always have his work. Cheers to AWP 2016!

  3. Thanks for this, Erin. I'm so looking forward to finally meeting you and many other long-admired 49-ers this week!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top