AWP

The high priests of poetry glitter like silver toothpicks. Don’t think about where they’ve been: the closets, the lavatories, the confessionals. Don’t mistake their laughter for genuine mirth. I remember our free-range chickens, that so-called flock of birds too fat to fly, how the roosters crowed at awkward hours and how every morning the hens would announce their new-laid miracles to the world in keening monotones, the first one sparking the others like a parking lot after a minor earthquake — all the car alarms going off at once. I remember how brutally they enforced the pecking order. Some winter mornings we’d find half a hen in the hay; bug season couldn’t come quickly enough. To be fair, though, their cruel stupidity was inbred, and may have been triggered by paranoia: almost every week two more members of the flock went missing from the shit-caked roosts, until spring when a new crop of chicks appeared in the rat-proof pen in the middle of the coop. Broody hens and second-rank roosters heard that EEP EEP EEP EEP and got excited. They’d wander up to the pen, tilt their heads as if taking confession, and go AWWWWP.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

12 Comments


  1. I feel like one of the ones who’s gone missing, though it’s clear I was never part of the flock to begin with.

    Reply

  2. I looked up AWP and found “Associated Writing Programs”: is that what this is about? Sounds like the deadly MLA: ambition and drama that would have been outsize for world domination, and all for a few ill-paid jobs and some mild miniature fame.

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  3. Yes, AWP is the MLA equivalent for the MFA/creative writing set. Many of my writer friends and acquaintances attend the annual conference, which just concluded.

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  4. Hi Dave,
    There is a web tracker site that tries to assess the real estate value of URLs.
    For Weather.com and NYTimes.com it gave a value in the millions.
    http://www.websiteoutlook.com/www.vianegativa.us
    I tried entering your site. It was recognized at website as having value. They said vianegativa was worth an estimated 4000 dollars. Cool!

    Reply

  5. This is the best satire I’ve read in a long time. It’s exactly right.

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  6. O yes, the AWP. I can’t tell you how many times I have escaped its lure, by letting all deadlines and such pass, and coming up with wonderful other excuses why I couldn’t attend. All this during my MFA years and tenure in the collective poetry press!

    Indeed, very naughty, but brilliant!

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  7. Two Dishes – If I had a day job, I don’t think i’d be ready to quit it just yet.

    Thanks, all. Hearing other people’s horror stories about the AWP conference just makes me all the more determined to work toward a different kind of ethos at qarrtsiluni. The collaborative, slef-deprecating spirit currently on display with our Mutating the Signature issue is a small but significant part of that, I think.

    Reply

  8. Every scientific professional society conference I’ve ever attended has been, um, pecking-order oriented, and I’ve sampled a broad spectrum of biological fields.

    I would never have insulted chickens by comparing them to tenured science faculty; however, I once offered a pointed analysis of tail biting in overcrowded hog lots to my major professor, and soon found myself enrolled in another graduate program.

    Well, that’s how I found myself on Droop Mountain….

    Reply

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