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Arisia 2019: Wrap Report

Arisia 2019 is over!

It’s back to the real world this week after an entire weekend in Arisia 2019. I go to this convention every year, but this one will definitely be special to me. For one thing, this is the year that felt, at least for a moment, like it wasn’t going to happen. If the debacle with the e-board wasn’t enough, there was the strike at the Westin. The convention felt slimmer this year for sure. A lot of people self-selected to not come this year and honestly with the smaller, more confined venue of the Boston Park Plaza, that was a decision enormously beneficial to my enjoyment of this con.
I had a blast. I was more invested in the panels this year because I wrote a portion of them. It’s one thing to go to a panel and listen for reading suggestions, or new ideas, or people to follow on social media, but it’s quite another to put together a panel of people to create a very specific conversation and then get to sit back to see how the discussion plays out. I loved that aspect of being Writing Track Manager and honestly I’m looking forward to doing this next year if Arisia will have me back. It was a great experience.
So, what did I actually DO at the convention? Well, I had five panels total, two Saturday, two Sunday and one reading panel on Monday. The two on Saturday were my ‘experiments,’ a live DnD event with writers and a looser more casual panel I called Shop Talk. The DnD panel, I think, went off better than I could have hoped. James Cambias did an amazing job as a DM, and Ruthanna Emyrs, Brent Weichsel, and Trisha J. Wooldridge all did a phenomenal job playing out a fun little dungeon delve Cambias concocted. I called this a proof-of-concept for the writing track and I consider the concept proven. Next year I am going to see if I can arrange AV support though. There needs to be a display of the map of the adventure for the audience and microphones. Other than that though I had no complaints.
The shop talk panel went well too. The purpose of the panel was a small group of writers to talk about their experiences actually writing and I have to say that went off pretty well. James Cambias, Keith Yastuhashi, and Andrea Hairston were all pretty game to try the looser format and although this was my first moderating job and I definitely could tighten up my game, I really appreciate the patience of panelists and audience as it paid off with some really great conversation.
Sunday was a bit more traditional. I took part in a Conlanging panel in the afternoon and a Marvel Year in Review panel in the evening. Both were a lot of fun, the “All Words Are Made Up” panel being a bit more academic and the Marvel panel being pretty much straight fun. Heather Urbanski continues to impress me as one of the best moderators I’ve met and as a result that panel had some truly great interactions between Dan Toland, Bob Chipman, and Marianna Martin, PhD. The impression I’ve built up recently of Marvel fandom is of a community interested in celebrating what’s good about the franchise and pushing for further improvements with each movie. I guess another way of saying this is some people enjoyed Black Panther the most out of MCU films this year and some people enjoyed Infinity War. Fans are able to - wonder of wonders - sit at the same table and talk about what they liked about both movies without dissolving into acrimony.
The reading on Monday was a great chance to listen to Athena Andreadis, PhD and Kristen Janz read their story and while also getting a chance to read my published work “The Emissary.” If you are interested in hearing me read any of my other work in the near future, I have some exciting news.
Although this hasn’t been publicized completely, I’m going to say that I’ll be reading one of my poems at the opening ceremony of the new Woburn Public Library on March 16th. I hope to see you there! I should be just about recovered from my weekend at Arisia!

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