Welcome to The AWP Diaries, a glance into Publisher Cindy DiTiberio’s first AWP conference experience. Each day this week, we’ll share a bit about what a single day looked like when she was at AWP. Here’s a look at Day 3:
7:45am Wake up and get ready for the day
8:30am Walk over to my friend’s hotel that has free breakfast and doesn’t check whether you are a hotel guest so I steal a free breakfast
9:45am We walk over to the convention center because we want to make sure we get seats for the 10:35 panel (if there isn’t enough room, they kick you out because of the fire marshall). It turns out the panel is taking place on the 5th floor of the convention center in the largest ballroom you have ever seen so we are fine with seats.
10:00am Meet someone who was at the Literary Mama reading last night and has written for us before. Talk about her book and an essay she wants to write.
10:35-11:50am Panel: Writing Motherhood in Post-Roe America with Claire Dederer, Jessamine Chan, Angela Garbes, and Sonora Jha. This panel is soooo good. I love all of these authors and they unpack the expectations placed on women that they will be the nurturers, how we can portray mothers as fully dimensional who are “self-actualizing rather than self-sacrificing” (Sonora Jha) and how care work is the only thing that matters. “Money is actually a made up thing…. We could do away with money and we would be fine but we cannot do away with care work,” my favorite quote from Angela Garbes.
11:55am I grab the chance to meet Jessamine in person (I reviewed her book) and she is so lovely. I then buy Claire, Sonora and Angela’s books and have them sign them.
12:15pm Time for lunch! I go with a friend to Yumi Bowls, a short walk from the convention center to fuel up and get some fresh air.
2-3pm Represent LM at the table. Meet a woman who published a poem with us and now it is the first poem in her chapbook. Lots of people sign up for our newsletter in hopes of winning one of our cool Literary Mama tote bags.
3:20-4:35pm Panel: Motherlode: The Tripwire of Writing Real Family with Kelly McMasters, Joanna Rakoff, Jane Wong, Sonora Jha, and Rebecca Woolf. My favorite panel of the week. These brilliant, fierce women tackle the concept of why women are always asked what their family will think of their writing, as if they are responsible for other people’s reactions and like they should prioritize others’ comfort over their own truth. Each woman reads a bit of their writing and then they unpack how women are expected to be the keeper of secrets, which is why the world is so terrified when we speak (or write). How we normalize lies as a form of protection, but it is rarely protecting the women. The room is packed and many tears are shed.
5:00pm I chat and mingle with the authors after the panel so don’t get back to my room until 5. I quickly Facetime my children and try and relax a bit before our Literary Mama Staff dinner.
6:00pm Meet Jenny Bartoy at the convention center to Uber to our dinner. It is rainy and the walk is uphill so I am glad we have made this call.
6:15-8:00pm Dinner at Mamnoon with Literary Mama Staff plus Windy Lynn Harris. A chance for us LM mamas to get to know each other in person. The food is delicious, family style and we get to try so much (my favorite is the crispy cauliflower). We share about the kind of writing we do, hopes and dreams for our careers, family life. It is so lovely to share this time IRL after so much time over email and Zoom.
8:15pm Uber back to the hotel and watch a few episodes of Friends before crashing for the night.
Come back tomorrow to read more of Cindy’s experience at AWP!