Little did I know, when I titled my recent post “How to Survive #AWP20” that things would go the way they have. I was only thinking about the crowds, the overwhelming number of panels, and the envigorating chaos of the Book Fair. At the time, COVID-19 coronavirus was a distant thing in Asia. Then last week cases were reported in the U.S., and now a quarantined patient was released into San Antonio for 12 hours before her test came back positive and she was taken back to quarantine. Then a state of disaster was declared by the mayor of San Antonio, yet the conference wasn’t cancelled, though many have decided not to go.
I’ll still be there with some of our low-resicency MFA students. Others have decided to stay home, and I respect their decisions. If it were just me, I might do the same, but I want to be there for my students who are going and to represent our program. In the end, I’m convinced by AWP’s argument that the risk isn’t that high (though they also get why some people aren’t willing to take the risk). With changes to the schedule and rearranging of exhibitor spaces, there still promises to be plenty of chaos even if there aren’t as many attendees. Those of us going are confident that the situation isn’t as bad as it sounds and that precautions like frequently washing our hands and respecting others’ personal space with a wave and not a handshake.
If you were planning to be at AWP and have changed your mind, I’m not trying to convince you to go. If you’re still on the fence, it’s everyone’s judgement call. But if you’ve decided not to change your plans, then I’ll see you in San Antonio! We’ll make the best of it, no matter what happens.