Poet laureate Kay Ryan writes about attending the monster writer's conference put on annually by Associated Writing Programs (AWP) in 2005:
I have a weak character. I am very susceptible to other people'sFrom Kay Ryan's "I Go to AWP," from Poetry, 2005.
enthusiasms, at times actually courting them. I like to sit among people
who feel strongly about a basketball team, say, and get excited with
them. I love to love ouzo with ouzo lovers. These are, of course, innocent
examples. But this weakness concerns me in going to AWP. If I'm
exposed to the enthusiasms of others, I know that I am capable of
betraying my deepest convictions, laughing in the face of a lifetime of
hostility to instruction, horror at groupthink. The only way I've ever
gotten along in this world is by staying away from it; I have had only
enough character to keep myself out of situations that require character.
Now here I am, going to AWP. HOW am I going to remember:
these people are THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL? They will seem like
individuals, not deadly white threads of the great creative writing