Monthly Archives: March 2012

AWP 2012–Don’t Stop Believin’

by Libby Cudmore PF W’10 and Matthew Quinn Martin PF S’10

Everyone on the dance floor immediately recognized those oh so familiar piano chords from Journey’s most famous song–even if it had been plastered over with a generic dance beat. There was little double that their shadows were searching in the night–underneath the disco ball and gel-covered stage lights. And those who win as well as those who lose, along with a smattering of those who may or may not have been born to sing the blues, belted out the rest–Don’t Stop Believing!

For the better part of the past three days AWP ’12 Chicago’s nine-thousand plus attendees–the largest turnout in the conference’s history–go, have been rising at the crack of dawn and rarely hitting the sack before midnight. All of us have spent our time shuffling from conference room to conference room, from hotel to hotel, butts glued to uncomfortable chairs when available, and camping out on the floor when not. We’ve taken in panel after panel, found our way to late-night readings on the outskirts of a mostly-unfamiliar town and connected with friends and colleagues we haven’t seen in far too long. During the day we’ve subsisted on overpriced coffee and candy scrounged from an endless sea of book fair tables competing for our attention. At night we raid the many receptions for crudete, cheese ‘n crackers, and the occasional pulled pork slider, as well as any complimentary libations that might be extended by the more generous hosts. And we’ve seen it all, the undiscovered gems as well as the big stinking turds, all hoping that we’ll hear those magic words of inspiration, or make that one chance connection that will take us to the next level in our writing careers.

For some this is their first experience with the madness that can be the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual conference, others are hardened vets. Speaking personally, this is a return to the scene of the first AWP that we’d attended three years ago. To call the Chicago Hilton’s layout a labyrinth would be generous. Our own overwhelming confusion that first year eventually birthed the story “Convention of Exphrasis” (published in Stonecoast Lines S’10). The many elevators that all stopped at a different selection of floors, the creepy-eyed gloved bellmen and the winding staircases that seemed to lead nowhere were still there and still terrifying.  It was like coming home.

AWP is an odd mix of hope and fear, joy and frustration, uplift and disappointment. Nearly every writer there could point to at least one booth and justify taking a few extra mini-Snickers or an additional piece of swag because they rejected a submission.  The book fair can seem like a crowded bazaar of hustlers and carnival barkers.  It’s hard not to look at all the books on the table and wonder, Will that ever be me? And if it is, will anyone buy it?  Hands shoot up during Q&A’s to ask non-questions or to openly argue with the panelists. And it can seem like everyone there has it figured out except you–not just AWP, the whole writing game.

But here, on the dance floor, at five till midnight, we’re all still believing. We’ve weathered the storm, and at the brink of exhaustion we know, at the bottom of our hearts, that we deserve to dance. Because maybe sitting on top of that stack of form rejections is the one from the editor that loved it. And even if it isn’t yet, it’s only yet, and that acceptance might be sitting in our e-mail waiting for us when we get back. If only we could keep believing long enough to get us through the next double shift, at the keyboard or the coffee shop, we’d make it. And tonight, there isn’t a single soul in that sweaty, ecstatic, frenzied horde that wasn’t.

We took the midnight train to get here–literally, not metaphorically–and now as we sit in our tiny cabin, rocking back and fourth on the rails as we make our way back to New York, we find ourselves wondering about some of the other Stonecoasters. Not the ones we were able to meet up with, or those whose many newsletter announcements trumpet their accomplishments. No, our minds turn to those we haven’t heard from in a while, and we wonder how many of them may havestopped believing. There isn’t a writer alive that hasn’t in some part bought into the myth of the solitary genius, but the reality is that no one is truly successful on their own, and it is the duty of the Stonecoast alumni as a group–as well at our Alma Mater itself (if it is to deserve that title of “nourishing mother”)–to make sure that none of us stop believing. Believing in ourselves andbelieving in each other.


Libby Cudmore and Matthew Quinn Martin are Summer 2010 graduates.  Libby’s work has been featured in Pank, Umbrella Factory, Postcard Press, Connotation Press, The MacGuffin and the Yalobusha Review. Matthew Quinn Martin is the writer of the feature film Slingshot. His prose work has been featured in Transition Magazine, Thuglit and JMWW. Their collaborative work has been published by Emprise Reviewand Big Pulp and will be featured in the July issue of The Writer.   Record of the Month/Boys on


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Summer Reunion Update — Accommodations in Brunswick, ME

The Reunion Committee did some research and identified some places to stay in the Brunswick area.

Inn at Brunswick Station
We have arranged for a block of 10 rooms at the Inn at Brunswick Station, a new hotel adjacent to Bowdoin College. This hotel is comparable to the Harraseeket Inn and has a large comfortable lobby and a tavern with outdoor seating. We have negotiated a reduced rate of $199 per night double occupancy but you must make your reservation before June 1. The phone number is 207-837-6565.
Mention the Stonecost MFA Block to get the special price. These rooms are “first come, first served.”

Check out the Midcoast Maine Chamber of Commerce website for links to websites below. This isn’t a recommended list, only a preliminary cut of what is available based on distance from Bowdoin College.

Bowdoin College

Orr’s Island Campground
Thomas Point Beach

Bed and Breakfasts
Black Lantern B&B in Topsham close to river
Brunswick Inn in Brunswick off the Village Green

Cottage Rentals
(Mere Point is a good option for a cottage rental, it is near Bowdoin
but still lovely)
Grace’s Place, Harpswell – about 10 miles out of Brunswick
Sea Escape Cottages Harpswell
Your Island Connection on Bailey Island — will have a number of listings

Captain Daniel Stone Inn (upscale near the river)
Harpswell Inn (near the lobster take-out place that has ended several
residencies about six miles from Bowdoin)
Parkwood Inn–Cooks Corner
Inn at Brunswick Station (see above)

These four hotels are far out on Bailey Island but offer wonderful views
Cooks Island View Motel (far and campy but great views)
Driftwood Inn (far and campy but great views)
Log Cabin Inn
Bailey Island Motel (far but beautiful)

These 3 hotels are on the busy street on the way into Brunswick
Knight’s Inn (formerly the Maineline Hotel)
Traveler’s Inn
America’s Best Value Inn
Comfort Inn
Fairfield Inn

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