• An Open Letter to AWP

    Dear AWP,

    After much conversation, we have collectively decided to withdraw our proposed panel, Queer and Undercommon Publishing, from the 49th AWP in Los Angeles. While we appreciate that our panel proposal was selected for participation in the conference, we simply cannot agree to participate in or support an event that has demonstrated a structural insensitivity to its constituency and an inability to respond adequately to critique. From the failure to provide basic transparency about representation across multiple axes of diversity, to the attempt to silence Laura Mullen for pointing this out, to the too little too late response to Kate Gale's toxic op-ed, it has become clear to us that we must place further pressure on AWP to make the necessary changes so that it can become the organization that hardworking writers, educators, and publishers deserve. Based upon our individual and collective principles, we have no interest in becoming a token panel of diversity for AWP. We respect other participants who are committed to bringing about these changes and have made the difficult decision to do this work within the structure of AWP. However, we have chosen to stand in solidarity with those who are demanding transparency and diversity within the organization. As publishers, we are taking material steps toward centering poc and people with disabilities, queer, trans*, poor, and other undercommon writers, and we hope that by withdrawing our labor, we can put pressure on AWP to do the same.

    Angel Dominguez of Bodies/Pages, and Emji Spero, Zoe Tuck, and Joel Gregory of Timeless, Infinite Light

    Here is AWP's response:

     

    I’ve just reread your statement.  You may want to know that board will be releasing a statement within the next few days that specifically lists the many events that focus on content specific to uncommon and traditionally marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ community and people of color from different backgrounds.  There are over 200 events on that list, so I can guarantee that you will not be a token diversity panel.  
    However I completely understand if you are still set on not participating.  I hope you can understand that we’ve been working really hard here at AWP to take as much of the criticism as we can to heart, and have been working on improvements that I hope will show in the level of inclusion present at the conference.

    Thanks,
    Hannah 

     

    AWP's response sounds like a great start. We're sticking by our decision, but we see this is an example of how a collective effort to put pressure on an institution can (hopefully) effect some change. We hope that all the good things they talked about in this email actually come to fruition.

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