by Joshua Tuttle
This was my final pilgrimage to AWP as staff member of Rock & Sling, and I’m having some trouble absorbing that fact. It feels like maybe six months ago I walked into Thom’s office and said I wanted to be part of the magazine. In reality, that was years ago, and as I look back on the last few years, I can’t recommend joining a magazine enough. You meet weird and wonderful people, you get to learn about literature, and you get to participate in making the world a more beautiful place.
This AWP felt different than previous ones. The impact of the election was everywhere, and in some ways that saddened me. I know that they say art is always political, but in past years it felt like there was more emphasis on the fact that art can change the world through beauty. This year, it felt more like everyone was hung up on the ugliness, and were so eager to fight it that they forgot that our chief weapon in that battle isn’t anger, but beauty. Considering where the artists are coming from, I think their reaction is appropriate, but I hope that as a community we remember our mandate to speak truth rather than thrash about in the name of resistance.
This AWP was also the most editors we’ve brought to AWP since I’ve been a member of staff. I still haven’t adjusted to the fact that I’m the senior-most member on student staff, but I have adjusted to the fact that AWP isn’t the frenetic overwhelming thing it once was. No longer do I stand paralyzed, unable to take everything in or even figure out where to begin. Now I walk the book fair looking for editors I know, magazines who have published me, pitching project ideas, and talking to authors I’ve published. My first thought this year was “oh, there’s Image,” not “oh my god what is this.” I think the most rewarding part was to see how our younger editors have flourished, and quickly become savvy AWPers. They had their panels lined up, their readings selected, and as they shuttled from place to place like clockwork they stacked up heaps of swag. The pure joy that I read in their faces was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
So now I close, bittersweet at the close of this chapter, but what a good time it was.
Joshua Tuttle is a senior English major at Whitworth University, and the Assistant Fiction Editor for Rock & Sling.