Sunday, February 15, 2009


Swag with Swagger:
Second Run had a circus theme going on at its table. A roll of the dice could win you several prices, including peanuts, and in my case a little bag of caramel corn. Puerto Del Sol was giving away beer cozies, and alligator clips with magnets (a double whammy). The Macguffin had several types of swag, including magnets, and a nift pen/highlighter combo. Wichita State University had the best temporary tattoos and were also giving nifty post-it note book tabs. Finally Oxford Magazine was giving away back scratchers.

Other common forms of swag:

Postcards: Probably the least utilitarian swag available. Yes, I know, you could potentially send these postcards, however nearly everyone I think would be interested in receiving a postcard featuring the cover of a literary magazine was at AWP, and if they wanted that particular image, they probably took it. Now if each postcard were postage paid, that would greatly increase the likelihood that I'd send one. On the other hand, while I love swag and I was also on the look out for new literary journals to submit to I was also reticent to pick up too many flimsy photo-copied submission guidelines. Most of the postcards listed their journal's website, so at least they're sturdy and informative.

Bookmarks: Second only to postcards in blandness. A bookmark at a bookfair? Big surprise. Also, who uses bookmarks anyway? I usually remember the page, or stuff a random piece of tissue in there, or with mass market paperbacks I'll tab a corner. In all fairness, many of the tables with bookmarks also had other forms of swag.

Totebags: Most commonly offered by MFA programs, which were giving them out for free, while literary journals were giving them away with purchases. I think there's really a limit to how many tote-bags a person needs, particularly since everyone started the conference with an AWP 2009 tote. I mainly appreciated the totes as another bag for swag.

Stickers: When I was younger stickers were a big thrill and I used to wear them, or display them on my school notebooks. The problem with wearing a sticker is that you can pretty much only wear it once.

Pens: Again not so exciting, but extremely high on utility. I'm in a constant state of using and losing pens, so getting them for free is fine by me.

Magnets: High on utility and exposure. All the magnets I picked up at AWP are sure to find a place on my fridge.

Temporary Tatoo: This one is curious. In the 90s I used to apply tatoos from Zebra Stripe Gum despite the fact that those tatoos were in no way cool. The tatoos at AWP were amusing, but I'm not sure if I'll actually wear any of them. Furthermore, very few of them took the tattoo concept very far. I would have like to have find literary journals incorporating their logos or names in tramp stamps or perhaps with a little barbed-wire. But the idea is fun. Maybe they'll make their way onto my body during the summer.

Copies of journals: Apparently at past AWP bookfairs free copies were much more common. Maybe it's a sign of the financial times that nearly every booth was selling them, albeit at a discount. And also, journals with humongous endowments or plenty of funding, like Poetry Magazine couldn't give copies away fast enough. Poetry Magazine was also giving out CDs, DVDs, postcards, and bookmarks. They were not giving out temporary tatoos.