The first day of AWP in San Antonio was fine, if a little sleepy. The biggest problems were smaller crowds and cancelled panels. One of my students, Hollie, told about a panel on submitting where none of the panelists showed up, but lots of people were thee wanting to talk, so they took over the panel and shared advice. It was very useful.
Another student, K.D., told us about getting interviewed on Wednesday. On San Antonio news on Wednesday. They were so happy that the conference hadn’t been canceled, they wanted to talk to those who came. They misspelled her name, but did broadcast her interview.
Everyone I talked to was very upbeat, if a little sad that the Book Fair is smaller and there aren’t as many people or panels. Everyone’s making the best of it and so far there are no signs of an increased risk of catching COVID-19. Lots of hand washing and creative alternatives to shaking hands. It may be the healthiest AWP ever.
I get why some people decided not to come. It’s unfortunate that the news broke days before the conference started and people really didn’t have time to make a calmer decision. In the split second you had to decide, and with so much uncertainty, it made sense to cancel for many. Only the future will tell what was the right decision, but for now, those of us are here are feeling all right and making the best of it.