I just got back in town yesterday from an extended weekend in Denver, CO. I gotta say, I’m exhausted!
The national AWP (the Association of Writers and Writers’ Programs) conference was held April 7 – 11 which ostensibly amounted to my sleeping terribly each night, attending panels from 9:00AM – 5:30PM three days in a row while consuming potentially hazardous amounts of coffee in the interim.
Though admittedly I learned a lot.
But before I jump into the nuts and bolts of the conference itself, I thought I would first take the time to mention certain aesthetic observations with respect to the conference’s actual attendees. Most of my comments can be summed up with a single sentence: Everyone looks the same!
There are essentially five or so archetypes of conference goer of which I will deconstruct below in a mostly disorganized and lazy fashion:
Berets are still in (seriously, why?). Sport coats of various fabrics–mostly micro-suede and corduroy–are the new tweed among academic types.
The “Jesus look” = in!
Guys with full beards, glasses and flannel-wear? Also in. Al Borland and the guy from the Brawny paper towel commercials and wrappers would be ecstatic. These writers favor Jack(s) London and Kerouac for their salt of the earth, everyman prose style.
Hobo-fabulous/chic is also in. This type favors boutique designer wear such as $200 Citizens of Humanity or Diesel jeans, $100 Ben Sherman or 7 Diamonds shirts, the sport coats of the “new” academics and tennis shoes. Seriously. Like running shoes. I’m not kidding.
Women, especially aged 40+ gravitate toward thick-rimmed glasses, shawls and shocks of white hair, an effect which they may or may not have implemented dyes to attain.
Then there are older gentlemen who sport baseball caps, vests and a few layers of tough leathery skin. Also see salt of the earth literature; though perhaps this type’s is saltier.
Speaking of beards, they were everywhere. Thick facial hair is trendy again in order to seem truly artsy.
Chuck Taylor’s? Ubiquitous.
Skinny jeans and 80s punk rock hair are back. Hooded rugby shirts–always too small–accentuate this new punk’s physical likeness to fitted PCV piping. And you can forget backpacks; they’re out. Canvas messenger bags are the new black (though I should note that I personally prefer the weight distributing properties that a backpack offers, so fuck what’s hot–give me what’s comfy!).
So everyone pretty much looks the same–not just with respect to each other but to everyone who has ever lived. They further reinforce the idea that there are no new ideas, just rehashings of old ones. People trying to individuate themselves by buying into, and thus looking like, how they “should.” The clothes they wear fit their chosen archetype. For whatever reason, the harder the individual tries to assume the appearance of their chosen archetype, the more an air of severe hoit and toit emanates from them.
Butch-lesbian-chic? In. Whether or not they are all actual lesbians or not, this particular look is fucking everywhere too! These women at least look like they could kick your ass, the truth likely not far from the suggested appearance; the spiky hair only solidifies their ass-kicking appearance.
Hooker boots: definitely in.
Funky chic? IN. Lots of color, crazy boots of varying degrees of height, funky hair? In, in and in. (And how could I forget the myriad of “patterned tights with boots? That was everywhere. And dresses plus cardigans, of course.” Thanks to Elisa Gabbert for reminding me!)
Short skirts? In. I’m not complaining, more like just saying: they’re here, in full effect.
Some people wore a hodgepodge of these looks, which suggested mainly that they simply were trying too hard…to look original… Those who wore bowler, derby and cabbie/newsboy/Oliver Twist hats were everywhere but always gave the impression they were trying to figure out what others thought of their personally wearing said hat(s).
One attendee looked like a terrible goth/emo Crocodile Dundee “mash-up” mishap.
Don’t people use mirrors anymore before going out in public?
Anyway, actual conference news soon to follow!