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Afterwords: AWP 2014 // Beaker Full of Sarah Shotwell

by Sarah Shotwell, Contributing Writer On Sunday afternoon at SeaTac Airport, I stood in line to board a rickety little plane half-full of writers bound for Los Angeles. It was all too easy to spot them: they had purple-stamped canvas bags slung over their shoulders. They were slowly thumbing expired editions of Tin House and trying to cram conference materials into over-stuffed carry-ons. They were silent and pallid and greasy. Earbuds were stuck in their ears. They shared the countenance of a bunch of introverts, well over capacity. The 2014 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, hosted by the University of Washington Creative Writing Program, drew more than 10,000 outsiders to Seattle last weekend. Since 1972, AWP has pulled its unwieldy community of writers, publishers, teachers and readers together under one roof for a long weekend of paneling, browsing, networking, reading, and partying. The conference also is the host to the largest book fair in North America, where MFA programs attempt to draw applicants, and where publishers and foundations come to hawk subscriptions, promote …