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On Post-AWP Fatigue & Book Development

Updated: May 11, 2023

On Post-AWP Fatigue

Hi everyone! I write this missive from Syracuse, NY, the snowiest city in the continental United States. Right now, a snowstorm is battering Central NY, and from my vantage point in the library, I can see the snow as it squalls; the large glass panes are conducive to this type of watching. I am dreading the walk home, the worsening roads. The thing that is keeping me sane at the moment is thinking that when I do get home, I can crisp up some potatoes in hot chili oil and write some poems.

I’m coming down from a whirlwind five days in Seattle, where this year’s AWP conference was held. First time going to the Pacific Northwest, and it was a resounding success. I tabled at both the Salt Hill Journal table and the BOA Editions booth, I got to do my first reading of poems from my forthcoming book, Bad Animal, and I got to hug friends and buy a ton of books. Did I need all of those books? Yes, I absolutely did. And barring a potential cardiac event/panic attack I had at the airport coming home in which my left arm went completely numb and my heart felt like someone had a vice grip on it, it was a great trip!

That being said, the one thing I do not like, categorically, is the post-AWP fatigue and general funk that lingers the week after. I’ve found myself sniffly and irritable, exhausted and overstimulated. I’m only making it through by the skin of my teeth and by the groceries I managed to snag at the store before this storm hit. Happily, this coincides with spring break, so my students don’t get to see me at my very worst. But suddenly it’s back to real life, and real responsibility. Back to course planning and proofreading and general exhaustion. It’s halfway through the semester, and the end can’t come soon enough. Add to this cocktail working on a novel-thing and a new book of poems, and you end up with a recipe for impending disaster: one wrong slip on a banana peel and everything goes to shit. I’m trying to practice gentleness, for myself and for others who are stretched just as thin, but I’m not sure I’m doing the best job.

On the plus side, though, exciting things abound! I’m filling out interview questions for the feature that will go live on Riot in Your Throat’s website when preorders for Bad Animal happen (April 1st! 2 weeks!) and it’s got me thinking about my process, about the work, about how lucky I am to be in this life of poetry I love so much. Really sitting down and talking about how the book came together has made me look at my new book of poems project differently. It’s made me wonder about what will stay the same and what will differ in the work. To that end, I just inhaled the book “Demystifying the Manuscript: Essays and Interviews on Creating a Book of Poems” by Two Sylvias Press, and god, I love a good craft book, and this is one of the most comprehensive, informative ones I’ve read on the art of putting a book together. It’s made me think more deliberately about letting the reader breathe, tonal variation, and how to section things, how to juxtapose them more dynamically. Would highly recommend picking up a copy if you’re even a little bit interested in writing a poetry collection.

Also, HELLO, Bad Animal has a cover! And it’s gorgeous!

Truly, working with my publisher, Courtney, has been such a dream collaboration. She's been so kind and incredible, and she hit the nail on the head for the cover art, which was made by Oscar Keys. One of my biggest highlights from AWP was getting to meet her in person for the first time and talk about the book in real time, hear her thoughts on my ideas for promoting it. Let's just say there are some very interesting irons in the fire. No guarantees, of course, but things are afoot.

It's hard to believe that things are ramping up now, it won't be long until I'm holding a copy in my hands. EEK. And to that end, my chapbook, Small Geometries, should be out in May, so things are ramping up on that score too! Stay tuned for developments in that sphere! It's a chapbook of poems about all the shitty men I dated in college, so part of the process has been exorcising that particular demon and wondering if I'm just a magnet for people with severe emotional unavailability. To be honest, I'm not sure whether to send said men a complimentary copy of the chapbook or bill them for my therapy. We'll see what happens. Maybe both. It's hard finding a balance between wanting people to know they had an impact on you, but then also still living through the hurt they caused in a variety of different ways. Things linger, they haunt. And that's why I'm still writing about it, four, five, six years after they happened. I don't know when to stop. But I imagine I'll be writing about them for the rest of my life, albeit in different increments, albeit in different guises. That's the thing with writers: we all have our obsessions. You have to honor them at some point.

That's all for today. I must go and do some writing while the atmosphere is still lending itself to hunkering down and drinking tea and doing work. Happy Tuesday!


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