Sunday, April 12, 2015

AWP 2015 Conference - a Couple Panels I Attended

I bought a one-day pass for the AWP 2015 Conference in Minneapolis. Though I spent most of my time wandering wide-eyed around the bookfair, I also took the time to go to a couple of panels, both of which I enjoyed very much.

First, there was:

America by Train: Riding and Writing the Rails.

Jessica Gross started things off by telling how she writes essays. She starts with a question that she doesn't have the answer for, and hopes to find that answer through the process of writing the essay itself. I thought that was a great piece of advice. She then read, Writing the Lake Shore Limited, which you can read here. She received a writing residency from Amtrak in which free rides were given to selected writers so that they could write about the experience.

Next up was Vanessa Blakeslee, who read from her collection Train Shots. Her story was powerful, about a train hitting someone on the tracks. The imagery was wonderful and vivid.

Then came brothers Kai and Anders Carlson-Wee, two poets who showed a short documentary they made about hopping freight trains. Very enjoyable and appealing to the adventurous spirit (though I'd rather ride in the sleeper car of a passenger train, thank you very much!) Here's the trailer:

RIDING THE HIGHLINE - TRAILER from Kai Carlson-Wee on Vimeo.

Next up:

Video Poems and Cross-Genre Collaboration: A Conversation and Screening with Louise Erdrich, Heid E. Erdrich, and Trevino Brings Plenty.

I went to this since I'm a fan of Louise Erdrich.

 Her novel The Round House was one of my favorite reads of 2014. Plus she owns a bookstore in Minneapolis, so she can't be all that bad!

However, I was also delighted to discover the work of poet and filmmaker Trevino Brings Plenty, who screened a few of his video poems. For example, there was Maize Dog:

Heid E. Erdrich, sister of Louise, is a writer/poet in her own right. She screened a wonderful video poem called Undead Faerie Goes Great with India Pale Ale.

The highlight for me, though, was Louise reading her poem Advice to Myself 2, a fantastic sequel of sorts to her famous Advice to Myself. This one was about resistance. After reading it once, she also showed a video version of it, where she was dressed as a bear, and...well, let's just say it was pretty damn cool. It's not available to be shown, yet, though.

Both panels were well worth the time and introduced me to some more writers and filmmakers to watch out for.

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