Note to young, intelligent writers hoping to meet well-connected and 80% smarter writers, editors, and publishers: &NOW Festival of Innovative Writing & Art is an intimate gathering of great literary minds, relative to the unwieldy get-lost-in-the-crowd AWP Conference. The festival (note the celebratory implications of the word) has grown since its 2004 inception, but attendance is still no more than 200. Thus, over a period of 3 days, you have plenty of opportunities to talk, really talk, with writers in casual atmospheres, whether coffee or martinis, burritos or sea bass. The panels are insightful, the topics provocative, and the readings are gorgeous. Best of all, if you attend the Festival regularly, it eventually becomes a pleasant reunion with more and more people you actually like, not pretend to like. Oh, did I just confess to pretense? The next &NOW will be held six months early, in the fall of 2009 (Buffalo, New York) in order to shift it from spring, congested with the ever-date-shifting AWP.