Oh the irony of #AWP20

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.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: