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AWP Removes Vanessa Place From 2016 Conference Subcommittee
This weekend saw the unfolding of outrage over Vanessa Place’s Twitter account, a project that (as we’ve noted previously) has been transcribing the entirety of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind for the past two years and change. Over 2,000 people signed a petition yesterday to have Place removed from her seat on the AWP Los Angeles 2016 conference subcommittee, where she was set to evaluate over 1,800 panel proposals. AWP confirmed her removal last night on Twitter, and released a full statement today:
May 18, 2015
AWP has removed Vanessa Place from the AWP Los Angeles 2016 Subcommittee.
We did so after taking into consideration the controversy her Twitter feed has generated. Place has been tweeting the text of Gone with the Wind and using a photograph of Hattie McDaniel as the profile picture. The context of this and similar work is explained by a few literary theorists and advocates of conceptual poetry, such as Jacob Edmond and Brian M. Reed.
AWP believes in freedom of expression. We also understand that many readers find Vanessa Place’s unmediated quotes of Margaret Mitchell’s novel to be unacceptable provocations, along with the images on her Twitter page.
AWP must protect the efficacy of the conference subcommittee’s work. The group’s work must focus on the adjudication of the 1,800 submitted proposals, not upon the management of a controversy that has stirred strong objections and much ill-will toward AWP and the subcommittee. Perpetuating the controversy would not be fair to the many writers who have submitted the proposals.