Greenpoint Gazette

Fake It If You Don’t Belong: Fake AWP 2011

BY Jesse Sposato

When he was twenty-one, C.A.B. Fredericks went to the AWP (The Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Annual Conference on behalf of Spectrum, the undergraduate literary journal he was managing editor of at UCSB. But naturally, at twenty-one he didn’t get as much out of it as he would, say, now at thirty-one. If he could do it all over again, which he would given the chance, you can be sure he would get all the “right” sorts of things out of it. But since it’s not entirely practical or probable for a mere temp to make it to the conference solo—the conference is in Washington DC and has a hefty registration fee plus lodging—he is taking matters into his own hands this year and “faking it.”

Rather than sulkily mourn his absence at the authentic literary conference, Fredericks had an epiphany (in the shower, natch, where all the best epiphanies occur) to put on Fake AWP 2011, an event organized in jest to poke fun at slash embrace the ideas and sentiment behind the real AWP. He hoped he wasn’t alone in his conflicting internal dialogue. “For a working stiff, AWP is bloody difficult. And so [I thought], I can’t be the only person who’s got this combination of ‘Oh, I wish I was there/Ew, I hate them!’” Though Fredericks only came up with this idea a little over a week ago, with AWP around the corner, he felt like he had two choices: to do everything he could to make this event happen right now, or shelve the whole thing till next year. “I was just like, ‘Man, for this joke to land, it has to happen during AWP,’” Fredericks said.

What with Fredericks’ usual tenacity—he is the online editor and one of the event organizers at Slice magazine, has a day job, and in general works tirelessly to do writerly things for the Brooklyn community—he, of course, opted for B. The joke will land this Friday, February 4 at Brooklyn Winery from 8:00-10:00 p.m. Six Brooklyn writers and editors, plucked from the usual cast of characters Fredericks collaborates with, plus some new meat, will be presenting on serious and nonsensical subjects alike—topics like brunch, snark and literary crushes. (The lineup is tentative; more presenters may be added, and guest appearances by fake literary giants are anticipated.)

Jason Diamond (of Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Jewcy) will be presenting on the topic of snark mastery: post-Upper West Side; and Tobias Carroll (Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Scowl, the Rumpus) on something along the lines of “Punchline to the End of the World: Joshua Cohen’s Witz as Spiritual Descendant of Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Novels.” Jim Hanas (curator of Adult Education and author of Why They Cried) is deciding between a lecture on the future of his book, why you are not going to be famous, presumably geared toward the general “you” and an oral fan letter to Renata Adler. Fredericks himself will be giving a presentation “all about how we really need to get the Russians involved” in indie publishing with the working title, “Oligarchs. Oligarchs? Oligarchs!: Towards a Sustainable Model of Independent Literary Publishing” and Caitlin MacRae (Slice, Nerve), perhaps pre-recorded, by proxy or in conjunction with a PowerPoint presentation, will be discussing the disastrous effects of brunch in the literary community. Jim Behrle’s (Gawker, the Awl) presentation is yet to be determined “and will be a horrific shock,” Fredericks reckoned smarmily (but also jokingly).

Just to clarify, in case it got lost in the shuffle, Fredericks is awestruck by the AWP Conference, and he would be there if it was in any way a realistic option for him. His celebrating not being able to attend is his way of coping. While some people have addictions where they turn to gambling, drinking or shopping, Fredericks simply forges ahead with proactive literary activity. “S—- talk as I may, [the AWP Conference is] absolutely fascinating. There are all kinds of journals, all kinds of literary projects and all kinds of people paying homage to all sorts of literary figures you never would have heard of otherwise. It’s four days so full of conferences that you literally cannot see a tenth of it. Let’s not think that I’m just trying to crap on AWP; I am very, very, very jealous of people who get to go,” Fredericks said.

Alas, Fredericks’ favorite way to critique the literary infrastructure is, naturally, by laughing at it. “It’s so much better than getting mad or frustrated or depressed,” he said. And that is just what he and his Fake AWP cohorts will be doing this weekend. As for what Fredericks (who is currently applying to grad school) is most looking forward to about the event, it’s kind of a no-brainer. “My biggest hope—I don’t know if I’m going to be in New York City next year—is that somebody puts on a bigger and better Fake AWP 2012; or even better, that somebody does it here and then I’m able to do it wherever I am, and that it is seen as something that celebrates the fact that people get joy out of literature and literary culture,” Fredericks said. Again, Fake AWP 2011 takes place this Friday, February 4 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. at Brooklyn Winery, 213 North Eighth Street between Driggs and Roebling. There is no cover.

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