AWP Portland: New South @ Cider Riot!

By Anna Sandy

By far, my favorite off-site reading at this year’s AWP was our own.

New South partnered up with INCH, Four Way Review, and Construction Magazine to host a myriad of our respective contributors at a cidery and we easily filled the room. Between the four journals, we had over twenty readers on the lineup so each reader was limited to a short and sweet four or five minutes or two to three poems.

This quick turnaround between readers kept things moving, allowed each reader to highlight their strongest writing, and prevented restlessness in the crowd. The room was filled, with standing room only in the back, and there wasn’t a single reader whose performance wasn’t strong (though I did hear there was a weird piece while I went for a restroom break, I can’t speak to that). One of my favorite things about AWP is being able to give New South’s talented contributors a space to share their work at the largest writing conference we have as well as giving myself and the rest of New South’s staff the opportunity to hear the work we loved and published aloud and form connections with our contributors face-to-face.

This year, one of our partnering journals is edited by a former contest winner, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, and it was a lovely moment to be in the room with both her and our latest contest winner, J. Bailey Hutchinson, who both read and flattened the room with their poems.

While the bookfair is an overwhelming and terrifically fun experience and the panels can be informative and enlightening, I always love the readings the most--whether I am a host, a reader, or an audience member. I think this year’s New South reading was the most successful yet and I look forward to San Antonio next year.