AWP Forms New Committee on Inclusion

October 10, 2016

AWP’s Board of Trustees, “in accepting the challenge issued by Claudia Rankine to address the status quo that often makes our MFA programs and other literary institutions difficult, unwelcoming places for writers of color and others from outside the dominant culture,” has announced an Inclusion Initiative that, under the leadership of Trustee and Executive Committee member David Haynes, will have the following goals:

  • To engage AWP members, member programs, and the literary community at-large in conversations about inclusion in the pedagogy, curriculum, administration, and social environment of creative writing programs, writers’ conferences, and literary centers
  • To create and disseminate a set of benchmarks that offer guidance to AWP’s member programs, teachers, and administrators on how to foster inclusive literary communities and how to teach effectively among diverse students
  • To engage in an ongoing review of the association’s governance, policies, and projects to ensure inclusiveness and equity

The committee for the initiative consists of seven members of the Board of Trustees along with ten members of the literary community. Listed below are the seventeen members and their literary affiliations:

Eduardo Corral (North Carolina State University), Bonnie Culver (Wilkes University/AWP Board of Trustees), Oliver de la Paz (Holy Cross University/AWP Board of Trustees), Rigoberto González (Rutgers University/AWP Board of Trustees), David Haynes (Southern Methodist University/AWP Board of Trustees), Luisa Igloria (Old Dominion University), Julie Landsman (Minneapolis Public Schools (ret.)/Consultant on Multicultural Education), Sonya Larson (Grub Street; MFA Candidate Warren Wilson College), Katie Hae Leo (Writer and Performer), Denise Low Weso (Founder, Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University), Christopher Merrill (University of Iowa/AWP Board of Trustees), January Gill O’Neil (Salem State University/AWP Board of Trustees), Adrienne Perry (PhD Candidate, University of Houston), Craig Santos Perez (University of Hawai’i, Manoa), Jerod Santek (Write on, Door County/AWP Board of Trustees), Kristine Sloan (MFA Candidate, University of Wyoming), Johnny Temple (Publisher and Editor in Chief of Akashic Books).

AWP has dedicated a significant portion of the October/November issue of the Writer’s Chronicle to this cause, with articles on race and creative writing by Claudia Rankine (based on her AWP16 Keynote address), Fred D’Aguiar, and David Mura. In order to foster as much discussion as possible on this vital topic, the articles will remain accessible to all online, not just members and subscribers.

The articles can be accessed through these links:

In addition to these three illuminating articles, Kazim Ali has contributed an essay titled “Addressing Structural Racism in Creative Writing Programs” that will be available as an online exclusive this week. The Writer’s Chronicle and AWP welcome your feedback on this topic. Letters to the Editor may be sent to

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