Contributing writer Laura Brackin writes about her time at AWP 2018.

Every year, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) organizes a literary conference which draws thousands of people: authors, editors, journals, students, graduate and residency programs, presses, and people who simply love books. In the span of three days, hundreds of panels are set up, ranging in topics which cover such things as writing in the LGBTQ community, what to do with your MFA degree after graduation, how writers become editors, and many more. A conference goer could easily schedule a panel for every hour in each day, if they wanted to.

That being said, they may not want to. These conferences feature a bookfair to rival all others. Row after row of convention center booths showcase publishing houses, universities, writing retreats, and literary mags. The people at these booths are friendly and helpful, ready to talk about their organizations and associations, answer questions, and discuss your interests and the projects you may have in the works.

This year’s AWP conference was last month in Tampa, Florida, where Texas Review Press, alongside Sam Houston State University, set up a booth featuring publications from. Several of our authors joined us for books signings: Theodora Bishop sat for her newest book, On the Rocks, Michael Gills (who is also a judge for our George Garrett Fiction Prize signed his short story collection, The House Across From the Deaf School, Curt Eriksen promoted his Fall 2017 novella, A Place of Timeless Harmony, and Lindsay Illich joined us with her breakout Texas Poetry winning book, Rile & Heave. Even Clay Reynolds, of our Clay Reynolds Novella Prize spent some time with us at the booth.

The annual AWP conference is a perfect place to meet new people, see old friends, and network with folks in the writing and publishing industry. Every year brings another great experience and new insights. In 2019, it will be held in Portland, Oregon, March 27-30. My advice is to go ahead and put it on your calendar.

LAURA BRACKIN is a student at Sam Houston State University where she studies in the MFA program for Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing. She works part time with the Texas Review Press and desires to work as an editor upon graduation, while also building a career as a prose writer. She lives in The Woodlands with her husband, two teenaged kids, and her English pointer.

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