I’d just come from 35˚C in Nicaragua. In Boston the temperature was scarcely above 0˚C and there was a snowstorm on the way.
I was in Boston for the AWP Conference. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, i.e., all the university creative writing programmes in the USA. And each year, in a different US city (this year Boston), they have a big conference, more of a convention perhaps, with now upwards of 11,000 aspiring writers, practising writers, writing teachers and administrators, all eager to progress their careers. Lectures, seminars, discussions, readings, book launches. “Nothing else has quite the packed, desperate frenzy of AWP,” writes my friend Jim Kates, poet, translator, co-director of Zephyr Press, an AWP veteran.
The aspiring writers, mostly unacquainted with world literature, or indeed with anything much other than their tutors’ work and their own dreams of publication, drift by the tables with a casual glance at covers, but there are enough genuine readers, writers, editors, translators to make the thing worthwhile.
Outside, in a foot of snow, brownstone Boston was doing its best to look like an impressionist painting. But by the time we emerged from the cavernous Hynes Convention Centre for the last time the snow was beginning to turn to slush.