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This is AWP

The first time I set foot in a massive sea of writers, I hid, far edged to writing. Barely a whisper of calling myself writer. A friend/colleague recommended the conference, introduced me to its world, showed me that an Ozlike convergence of writers existed, yearly. In 2004, in Chicago, I attended my first AWP. I sat with my friend and his MFA pal, chatting about writing, their projects, their days in the MFA program. I'd meet his writing mentor, always attending the conference, that famous guy in writing circles. I didn't belong. At least not yet.

Since that year, I've attended a decade's worth of conferences and discovered the joys of Mark Doty, Robin Becker, and Yusef Komunyakaa. I've lingered in Richard Blanco's reading of his inauguration speech. I've sat speechless, grateful, and mesmerized, an audience for Seamus Heaney's bogs. I listened to Carolyn Forche read her poem, "Travel Papers," heard her stories about its subject, the poet Dan…

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