Before I begin, for those of you following the debate on HTMLGiant on whether or not Cunt-Ups is experimental fiction or not, let me say right up front that this blog post is not experimental fiction.
I'm back in San Francisco after 4 nights in Chicago for my first AWP ever. Kevin and I stayed at the Palmer House, and I only went to the convention on Friday, for the panel KK was on, featuring gay men who had done work reclaiming dead gay poets (David Trinidad/Tim Dlugos, Mark Doty/James White, Stephen Motika/Leland Hickman, and Kevin/Spicer), during which I kept wondering—where are the dead lesbian poets, who's recovering them, could there be a panel of lesbians recovering endangered lesbian authors? This theme of recovery continued this morning, when Chicago photographer Doug Ischar took us to see the exhibit of Surrealist photographer Claude Cahun at the Chicago Art Institute. The joy evident in Cahun's gender-bending self portraits made me feel the tragedy of her imprisonment by the Nazis (1944), not just in my heart, but in my gut. She was sentenced to death for her political activism, but received a reprieve. She looked markedly aged in the first photo after her release. "That's not the same woman," said Doug. With the latest wave of rightwing attacks on women's rights, the Republican probe up the vagina move, as well as the demonizing of birth control, it's not too hard to imagine concentration camps reemerging, and me and all my friends the first ones slammed into them.
But what about the AWP. Here's what I did: bumped into lots of people; took part in an amazing reading at Danny's Tavern, where Kevin did a moving rendition of Ariana Reines (who cancelled), and coreaders Peter Gizzi and Lewis Warsh were awesome, as were the audience and the dj, I downloaded Prince's "Paisley Park" to commemorate the evening; Kevin and I went with Chicago artist Elijah Burgher to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, it was a fascinating show, and I came into my own as a writer in the 80s, so it was in some ways a walk down memory lane, but a sad walk, it was a complex time, glorious—I fell in love, I found community, I got married, I began publishing—and tragic, everybody was dying, dying and my community, as communities tend to do, disappointed me; I went to Kevin's reading in honor of the Anagram City show at the Golden Gallery, where afterwards they served the most delicious and gluten-free hot and sour soup; we then rushed over to the ballroom of the AIC for Les Figues' I'll Drown My Book reading, and even though I don't think of conceptual women as warm and fuzzy, it was a sweet event, and the performers were wonderful (the Bay Area's own giovanni singleton made a big splash), I'm so happy to be in that book in such wonderful company; Friday morning I dragged myself out of bed and went to the Antioch Los Angeles MFA's 8:00 a.m. breakfast, where Antioch treated over 40 of us to eggs and fixings, I sat across from the president of the University, Tex, and he's a kind, engaged man, nothing like you'd imagine the president of a university to be like; then I went to Kevin's panel; after the panel we met up with Chris Breu and Elizabeth Hatmaker for tea and hanging out at the book fair; at the book fair I hugged and chatted with a zillion people; then Friday night it was dinner with Carla Harryman and local artists, academics, and poets (a totally non AWP event, except that Carla was in town for the Lorenzo Thomas panel) at Cumin, a Nepalese/Indian restaurant in Wicker Park, my Nepalese green beans were divine; then today the Claude Cahun show and home. The people I interacted with this visit, even those at the AWP, felt genuine; it was lovely.