Midge Stories
from AWP 2018

Our pigeon mascot Midge made tons of writer friends at AWP in Tampa! See what stories they had to tell about her:

Sophie Ouellette-Howitz , Fledgling Prose Contest   winner  !

Sophie Ouellette-Howitz, Fledgling Prose Contest winner!

Midge’s #AWP18 in Google Searches

- flight status double checker
- coffee IV rental
- George Saunders la boda de Eduardo
- blister Band-Aids near me
- tips expedited drink order Marriot bar
- how to book smuggling
- Portland OR flight tracker 

Manuel Gonzales , author of  The Regional Office is Under Attack!  &   Rachel Lyon , author of  Self-Portrait with Boy

Manuel Gonzales, author of The Regional Office is Under Attack! 
Rachel Lyon, author of Self-Portrait with Boy


Midge's Saturday Night
by Rachel Lyon

Saturday early evening found Midge comfortably perched in a palm tree overlooking the Marriott patio, eyeing a sesame bagel. Though Midge couldn't know the provenance of this particular bagel—an inferior brand, possibly Thomas's, really no more than the small, stale cousin of an English muffin, it had been acquired for free by a harried writer at that morning's Continental breakfast and subsequently left behind when he realized he was late for his own panel—she did know bagels in general—knew them quite intimately—and knew that they were delicious.

Just when she'd decided the moment was right to fly down and take a peck, a hotel staffer came out to clean up and disposed of it in a wheeled garbage can. Undeterred, Midge fluttered down and followed him through the automatic doors into the lobby, where she promptly forgot about it altogether. You can't really blame her. Bird brains are not really about short-term memory, even for information as tantalizing as the whereabouts of a sesame bagel; also, the laughter and voices of the creatures drinking and mingling in the lobby was rather distracting—not to mention that walking was impossible among so many feet. So, abandoning her mission, Midge flew up toward the ceiling, where she found a new temporary nesting place in a light fixture high above the growing ruckus. 

The volume of the mammals' conversation increased exponentially with the sinking of the sun. Being a city bird, Midge enjoys bustle and racket; soothed by the growing cacophony below her, she let her eyes close and took what she thought would be a short snooze. When she awoke again, though, it was late in the night, and some familiar tune was emanating from somewhere deeper in the second floor. Though she could not understand his lyrics, she recognized his voice at once: it was her old friend Biggie Smalls, whose effusive rhythms and easy flow she overhears all the time back in Brooklyn. Delighted, she flew through the hall until she found the dance party, where she passed the rest of the night perched in a corner, watching that funny flock of sweating, flightless bipeds undulating ecstatically, if arrhythmically, to the rhythms and melodies of their own species.

 I saved her from the pigeon-eating falcons in Manhattan. It's a dangerous world out there for a little bird 🦅🚫

M'Bilia Meekers  of LSU Press

M'Bilia Meekers of LSU Press

Melissa Ragsley  of  A Public Space

Melissa Ragsley of A Public Space


Midge takes a Florida Bird to the Off-Sites
by Melissa Ragsly

First stop in Tampa was the Marriot pool where I met this egret. She was confused. What zoo do all these people belong in? I looked around at all my fellow conventioneers and my, I guess we were a sight of sleep-deprived paper-cut adrenalin introverts. But we don’t belong in a zoo. I was about to clap back on that Florida Bird, but she flapped her wing at her neck and I realized she thought all of us were tagged. No, I said, these are just name badges for AWP. We are all here voluntarily.

Margaret was her name, Margret the Egret, and she had never heard of AWP. I tried to get her in the book fair and the panels but Tampa Convention Center security is basically made up of rogue sheriffs. No name tag, no entry. So, I took Margaret to the off-sites.

We looked for twinkly-lit rooftops full of people with books and phones. We found one where a black and white sign told us, Head down, keep writing, don’t be an asshole. We heard prose and harmonicas as I sipped on a cocktail and we flapped our wings for applause. I bought her a copy of Split Lip. Margaret was shocked so many people came to Florida to talk about writing and read aloud. And did they not know it still could get breezy and cold at night! They aren’t as lucky as us with our feathers.

Marg was ready for her next off-site, one I heard you needed a secret ticket for, a poetry reading on a water taxi. We swooped down to the yellow boat as it made its way through the Garrison Channel. Dorothea Lasky read about milk in a tinsel-fringed leather jacket. Marg and I circled always in the radius of the poetry and the shimmer. And when Sandra Simonds came up to the microphone and read from her book-length poem Orlando, Marg was moved enough to squawk at the boat taxi driver, a Florida-Man if I’ve ever seen one...Listen! She’s talking about us! She’s acknowledging our home! But the driver didn’t understand egret. He navigated us back to the dock. And we spent the rest of the night eavesdropping from the eaves of the deck off the hotel bar.

The egret and I promised to tweet. She said she’d hook me up with a blue heron who lives in Portland for next year’s AWP but I told her it’s the city of put-a-bird-on-it and I’d already booked my Airbnb right near Powell’s. I’d be right at home.  

Brandon Taylor  of  Electric Literature

Brandon Taylor of Electric Literature

Midge spent much of AWP wandering the book fair, snapping up deals and filling her Pidge Tote with far too many books for one pidge to read in a lifetime. She could also be seen encouraging everyone to read more women and non binary authors. Truly, what an icon.


Midge was honored to flock with so many talented literary friends. She can't wait to go again next year!

Lance Cleland  &  Thomas Ross  of  Tin House

Lance Cleland & Thomas Ross of Tin House

Lindsay Fowler , Fledgling Prose Contest   runner-up  !

Lindsay Fowler, Fledgling Prose Contest runner-up!

Nick Flynn,  author of  My Feelings  &  Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Nick Flynn, author of My Feelings & Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Nicole Sealey , author of  Ordinary Beasts,  gives Midge a peck.  

Nicole Sealey, author of Ordinary Beasts, gives Midge a peck.  

Midge made a (furry) friend!

Midge made a (furry) friend!


Published March 12th, 2018