Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: Pumped about AWP

By Claire Kortyna

Nearly a month from today the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference (AWP) and Bookfair opens in the Minneapolis Convention Center and Hilton Minneapolis Hotel. I browsed around their website today, itchy with anticipation. The conference website contains a number of fun and helpful links to things like registration, the Bookfair, and info about twin city entertainment. There’s even a “Walk-To Dining Guide” for guests.

I am, to put it delicately, pumped, particularly to walk around and interact with all the awesome publishers and journals. Today’s web rove showcases a handful of pieces from the many wonderful literary magazines and presses that will have booths at this year’s AWP Bookfair.

Conversation About Water” by Thea Robin Engst (from Sugar House Review)

In this succinct poem Engst explores illogical fears of the open water. The intensity of her descriptions, “filter teeth lined up like barcodes,” add weight to the ominous tone. But at the same time, she gently mocks herself and her conversation companion by repeatedly describing these fears as “ridiculous.” We laugh too, but cannot hold off a shiver.

Orphan Girl” by Naomi Kimbell (from Crazyhorse)

“The sky is coated with scurf the color of tin. Bands of haze hang at the fringe of the valley giving the impression that the mountains have receded into memory. The air is thick and full of grit.” So opens Kimbell’s essay from the current issue of Crazyhorse. Kimbell’s prose is at once crystalline and ambiguous while she discusses coal mining in Montana through its reverberations on her family and the environment.

Do Us Part” by Dawn Dorland (from Green Mountains Review)

Innocuously it begins, “I’ve been wanting to ask you, Do you remember what I said at your wedding?” And from there, in long, image-filled sentences, this simple question complicates. With each rambling line, the tension underwriting the prose tightens. Masterfully, Dorland has us rushing along the story, just as breathless as our narrator until we are left again with another haunting question.