Even more than reading, which may be shared as a bedtime story or a tale around a campfire, writing has always been a solitary endeavor. One labors at night or early morning, struggling with phrases and images, wrestling recalcitrant characters into line. (Although nothing’s better for a fiction writer than when one of those characters begins to resist, gets the bit between his teeth or discards the reins altogether and heads off into her own unexpected life.)
One of the most profound of evolutions of the last generation, however, has been the gradual emergence of an active national literary community. Writers have come to know each other off the page, as it were. Thanks to the Internet and MFA programs and summer workshops, we’ve come to feel more connected, less alone. Conversations spool out. Poems and stories are readily shared. There’s come this vibrant sense that we’re not so entirely in it alone.
The Associated Writers & Writing Programs conference has become an important venue for bringing members of that loose-knit national community together in the late winter or early spring. What a few decades ago was mostly a few dozen aging children of the ’60s who wanted to swap tales, drink a bit, dance a lot, has grown into a far larger and more serious affair of many thousands of authors, teachers, readers. And as you would expect from people who love the book, no feature of the conference is more important than the book fair. People mill and gather, wander through the long aisles of estimable journals and books, spying what’s new in print and online, keeping an eye out for old friends or more recent students.
This year’s road trip will take the KR team to Seattle, Washington from Wednesday, February 26th through Saturday, March 1. Our booth will be #1507, and I look forward to meeting writers we’ve published, students and participants from our workshops, readers with advice of all kinds.
We’ll also have a special offer: the first 100 friends at AWP who buy a one-year subscription to The Kenyon Review for $17, 43% off the regular price, will also receive a pair of limited edition KROphones, very cool earbuds with a retractable mechanism and the logo from our KROnline and podcast crows (as in John Crowe Ransom). Snap up a pair and listen to our new series of audio podcasts available on iTunes.
And because we’re celebrating KR’s 75th anniversary, we’ll have a reading from our extraordinary Winter 2014 issue. Jaquira Diaz, Charles Baxter, and Kimiko Hahn will read selections of their own work on Thursday, from 3 to 4:15. If you’re in town, please join us! I’ll look forward to saying hello.