I'm not sure whether it was AWP or just the recent snow storm, but I've got a case of the winter blues. Just the way of things I guess. And I don't mean to blame AWP because I did love seeing friends there. It's one of the few places I see some of my favorite folks. And there were the usual highlights: many wonderful readings and panels and books to buy and so on. All the good things, and then a few moments that were hard to deal with. Like the last few conversations I had at AWP. One in particular was with a man I didn't know who went to one of the nonresidency MFA programs and hasn't published since then. He's angry and he and his friends asked me a lot of angry questions such as. . .
Did I think that MFA programs would just let a student in (even if he lacks all talent or future potential) because he could pay? How many of these 7000 participants do you guess are MFA students or grads? Do you think talent is rewarded? Or is it all about who you know and what you can do for the powers that be? Do you think if a guy like me (who might have no talent) owned a press that he could get published? Do you think that's why there are so many presses? What if he ran a prestigious poetry series? Do you think there is such a thing as conflict of interest in the poetry world?
Bitterness is hard to listen to, and I will stop now. If only the conversation had stopped there.