The AWP Book Report

AWP Trip

A significant percentage of the people who stopped at Brooks Roddan’s table were writers who knew of my work, either as an editor, poet, or teacher. I confess that I did not recognize Martin Mitchell, who is now a MFA student at George Mason University, as a former student. “Professor Mohr,” he said. “And the blood-smell begins to fulminate.” Ah! One of my favorite lines by Charles Bukowski (“The Souls of Dead Animals”). Now there’s a student who knows how to warm the cockles of an old professor’s heart.

One of the first arrivals I talked to was Harold Abramowiz, whose writing is representative of the best efforts of post-Language poets to push the avant-garde in provocatively encompassing directions. I regret that I don’t precisely remember his companion’s name, whose very presence seemed to betoken an equally engaged poetics. Other poets knew me as editor: Maw Shein Win and Tim Donnelly, for instance, who are pictured above with me; Maw is holding a copy of CROSS-STROKES, an anthology for which I also did the cover design.

Two people who were completely unexpected included Bill Tremblay and Irene Smith Landsman. I had never met either of them before, but at least I knew of Tremblay enough to inform him immediately of my recognition of his work. The most unexpected person was a woman who identified herself by saying that she was the daughter of Frances Dean Smith (aka “FrancEye”). The only daughter I had ever met was Marina Bukowski, who was the only child of Charles Bukowski. Decades ago, I had heard that FrancEye had been married before she moved to Los Angeles, but I never expected to meet any of her other children. At some point, with that person’s permission, I may share details of our conversation.

Other drop-by visitors included Tanya Ho Kong, who promised to send me a reminder of tonight’s event at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles:

Friday, April 5th, 2019
@ 6:30 PM @ Korean Cultural Center
5505 Wilshire BLvd ( free parking! Amazing Korean appetizers (yes!)
Bilingual (Korean/English) POETRY Reading with:
Mark Irwin, Suzanne Lummis, Lisa Segal, Kelly Grace Thomas, Conney D. Williams, Hack Hee Kang, Jun C. Kim,
Quentin Ring & Tanya Ko Hong

I went to only one reading connected with AWP, in large part because I was staying with the family of wife’s niece, Laura, in Milwaukee, which is at the far reaches of Portland’s very efficient light-rail system. Laura’s spouse, Dave, very graciously gave me lifts in his car to and from the rail station, but I could hardly ask him to do that late in the evening, so I headed back to the home base fairly early. I did catch short readings by Kit Robinson and Jennifer Bartlett at Passages Bookstore on Thursday night, and felt fortunate that they led off the long list of readers and that I was able to meet David Abel, the power of the store, before the reading started. Kit was in as fine a form as ever: along with Rae Armantrout and Ron Silliman, he is one of a handful of truly superb poets of the Baby Boom generation. Jennifer Bartlett read a poem entitled “All Things Are Illuminated by Water,” which was no sooner finished than I wanted to hear it again and again.

Here is a list of some of the books I acquired in my brief tour of the AWP Book Fair:


here the sun’s for real: selected poems — Jose Eugenio Sanchez (translated by Anna Rosenwong) — (Bloomington, Indiana: Autumn Hill, 2018)

How to Write an Earthquake (Comment Ecrire et Quoi Ecrire): Sixteen Haitian Writers Respond (Autumn Hill, 2011)

Whiteness of Bone — Gloria Mindock (Glenview, IL: Glass Lyre Press, 2016)

Rainstorm over the Alphabet: Poems 1990-2000 — Bill Tremblay (Lynx House Press, 2001)

An Indigo Scent After the Rain — James Grabill (Lynx House Press, 2003)

Pet Sounds — Stephanie Young (New York: Nightboat Books, 2019)

What I Knew — Eleni Sikelianos — (New York: Nightboat Books, 2019)

Crosslight for Youngbird – Asiya Wadud (New York, Nightboat Books, 2018)

Thought Balloon — Kit Robinson (New York: Roof Books, 2019)

Leaves of Class — Kit Robinson (Tucson: Chex, 2017)

Lucifer: A Hagiography — Philip Memmer (Sandpoint, Idaho: Lost Horse Press, 2009)

Mouth & Fruit — Chryss Lost (Santa Barbara: Gunpowder Press, 2014)

Instead of Sadness — Catherine Abbey Hodges (Santa Barbara: Gunpowder Press, 2015)

Float — David Abel (Tucson: Chex, 2012)

The Paul Bunyan Ballroom – Bud Backen (Allston, MA: Nixes Mate, 2017)

Contraband of Hoopoe — Ewa Chrusciel (Richmond, CA: Omnidawn, 2014)

Of Annunciations — Ewa Chrusciel (Oakland, CA: Omnidawn, 2017)


Old Rendering Plant — Wolfgang Hilbig (San Francisco, Two Lines Press, 2017)

The Devil’s Water — Richard Wirick (El Segundo, CA: Ekstasis Editions America, 2018)


Robert Frost in Russia — F.D. Reeve (Brookline, MA: Zephyr, 2001)

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