Don't feel like shelling out $285 ($60 for students) for all-access entrance to this year's ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS & WRITING PROGRAMS (AWP) CONFERENCE? It's totally worth it, if you ask us, given that the monster literary conference draws over 10,000 writers and features hundreds of signings, panels, and readings. Those with shallower pockets needn't be discouraged, however. We've rounded up the must-attend — and mostly free — events going down in bars, restaurants, and other off-site venues around town in conjunction with the con this weekend. Write on!
QUEERTOPIA!:: Leave it to the LGBT community to queer AWP up with a four-hour reading bonanza. More than 30 LGBT writers go hard from day to night at Club Café. Among them will be Saeed Jones, Rickey Laurentiis, Natalie Diaz, Stephen Tapscott, Amy King, James Allen Hall, Lee Ann Rouripaugh, Christopher Hennessy, and Kazim Ali; plus, there will be offerings from Bloom, Sibling Rivalry Press, and Seven Kitchens Press. :: Free :: 4 pm to 8 pm :: Club Café, 209 Columbus Ave, Boston
Literary Wilderness :: Poets and writers read to benefit and highlight several prison creative-writing programs across the country. The theme is "wilderness," and the stacked line-up features Pushcart-winning poet and UMass prof Jill McDonough (who taught writing in prisons for 13 years), celebrated poet Matthew Zapruder, science and nature writer Bronwen Dickey, and many more. No cover, but bring cash to support a great cause. :: Free :: 7 pm to 9 pm :: Old South Church, 645 Boylston St, Boston
Grub Street & Small Demons present Get Lit :: Okay, so there won't actually be any readings (at least, not planned) at this Grub Street and Small Demons party, but it looks like it's going to be a hell of a time anyway. What there will be are free cocktails (100 of 'em: first come, first served) and free coasters designed by the Small Demons folks. Plus, good vibes and good times. See you at the bar. :: 6 pm to 8 pm :: Storyvillle, 90 Exeter St, Boston
Apocalypse Now: POEMS & PROSE FROM THE END OF DAYS AWP RELEASE PARTY :: When Get Lit wraps up at 8, head over to McGreevy's to keep the party going at this end-of-days bash. A dozen poets will read from the newly published Apocalypse Now, and there will be a zombie ('cause you know that's how it's all going down in the end) photo booth, fortune readings (tidings are likely ill), a raffle for copies of the anthology, and more free drinks (to the first 50 guests). :: Free :: 8 pm to 10 pm :: McGreevy's Bar, 911 Boylston St, Boston
VIDA Prom: A READING AND DANCE PARTY :: VIDA hosts a prom redux for the bespectacled set, with readings by heavy hitters Cheryl Strayed, Robert Pinsky, and Pam Houston, among others, starting at 9. The fancy dance party begins at 10, and shenanigans are almost definitely going to ensue. Taffeta encouraged, but not required. :: $10 :: 8 pm to midnight :: Daisy Buchanan's, 240 Newbury St, Boston