For the uninitiated, AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. They hold an annual conference and this year it occurred in historic Boston, MA. This year, four brave souls of varying and considerably questionable sanity decided to embark on the adventure of not only attending the famous AWP conference, but to drive from the University of Central Arkansas to Boston, MA.
Pictured Above: the fearless four being their journey.
These brave souls from UCA’s inaugural MFA class comprised of teams of two Lynne Landis and Jobe Jobe in car A and Scotty Lewis and John Mitchel bringing up the rear. They braved a three thousand mile round trip that lead them into the heart of New England, an area of the country that clearly did not get the memo that it should be reasonably warm in March.
After two hard days of driving and enough coffee to drown a sleuth of midsized grizzly bears, the fearless group settled in their accommodations in South Lee, MA a full two hour drive from the conference. It became apparent at this point that MFA students clearly need a course in geography, but the trip proved to be incredibly beneficial and a great adventure.
At the conference the tired, but unstoppable Scotty continually worked the Toad Suck Review’s booth to promote the literary phenomenon and UCA’s groundbreaking MFA. He was frequently relieved by John, Jobe, and Lynne, but the call of the book fair held him entranced as if it was the song of an ancient siren or a shiny object. Using his mad salesmanship Scotty single handedly sold a great number of Toad Suck Reviews while promoting UCA’s MFA and garnering the attentions of the masses. He fearlessly held the fort down while Jobe Jobe and John took a much needed break for being tattooed among other times the other grad students wandered off to assorted lectures and panels.
Pictured: John takes a much needed break and lives his life dream of getting a tattoo from a pregnant lady at the Boston Tattoo Company.
Throughout the conference all of the MFA students were able to meet with other writers and publishers. Business cards were exchanged and sales pitches were offered. AWP proved to be an excellent place to network and gather information from presses and upcoming manuscript contests. Students were able to procure a myriad of fine literary journals and books from small presses. It was a literature nerds dream.
On the second day of the conference, tragedy struck. Due to the two hour drive back to South Lee and the merciless snow of Massachusetts, the fearless four found themselves snowed in their hotel. After braving a harrowing drive through the blinding storm to return to their room the four used the day to drop into their native elements. Scotty and Lynne wrote poems about the harsh weather and the beauty of the landscape. Jobe Jobe continued to work on her memoir and add levels of polish to its striking narrative. John engaged in the sport of kings by not getting out of bed until 2 p.m. and promptly drinking a beer. The four then cooked a most excellent dinner and enjoyed their rest and camaraderie.
Above: The above occurred over night. This kept the poor grad students locked down for a day.
The last day of the conference found the refreshed, rested, and ready grad students hitting the conference hard. They were able to network with more people than ever imaginable. They hit the conference hard garnering all the information they possibly could and gaining contacts for publishers of their upcoming work. In the last day the four chipped in to aid the Toad Suck Review booth as much as they could. The results were staggering sales and numerous new interested candidates in both publishing and the MFA program.
The long drive home was fairly uneventful except for that part where Jobe Jobe and Lynne got lost by the Canadian border, but they asked this writer not to mention it. When asked all four MFA students swore they would fly to the next AWP conference.