What struck me as really ugly about the AWP is the money situation. Okay, the atendees have to pay $100-$200 to get in. There the presses, which are already suffering financially, have to pay for these tables. Then, people don't really buy the books, which, if they do sell are sold at a discount. Then, the AWP 'sold out' which means many people who want to go can't. And there has to be a lot of badge trading and sneaking around, not to mention, no one poor can go. And who is all this money going to? Of course, they have to rent the place, right? But, my husband goes to Sci Fi conferences at equally swank hotels and the fee is $45. I don't think the readers and panelists get paid, I think they have to pay to go.
This AWP person isn't very smart. Want to make some real money on poets? Buy a bunch of booze and coffee and set up two card tables. You'll have the entire thing paid for in two hours and everyone can attend poetry readings for free!