Vermont College of Fine Arts Applauds Alumna's Gracious Withdrawal from National Book Awards Controversy

Oct 17, 2011, 17:12 ET from Vermont College of Fine Arts

MONTPELIER, Vt., Oct. 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Vermont College of Fine Arts   (VCFA), a national center for low-residency graduate education in the arts, took a firm stand today on the controversy surrounding its faculty and alumnae nominees for the 2011 National Book Award in Young People's Literature.

Among the nominees in this category, three are members of the VCFA community: faculty member Franny Billingsley, for her book "Chime," alumna Debby Dahl Edwardson '05 for her book, "My Name is Not Easy,"  and alumna Lauren Myracle '00, for her book "Shine."

Last Wednesday, when the finalists were announced, instead of the usual list of five, there was a list of six. There had been a "mistake," which involved naming the wrong book and then adding the one the judges had intended, for a total of six. It was quickly determined that the sixth book named, Franny Billingsley's Chime, sounded quite a bit like one of the other books on the list, Lauren Myracle's Shine. The judges, it seemed, had sent the message that they were nominating Chime, but the National Book Foundation heard and announced Shine. When the judges heard that, they sent the message back. No, not Shine. Chime. Thus, the list of six books.

At some point, the NBF changed its mind about leaving a list of six intact, because Lauren Myracle, whose Shine had been included by mistake, was originally told the book would be left in, has now withdrawn and said that she was asked to do so in order to preserve the intentions of the judges. In a statement issued by her publisher, Myracle wrote that she "was asked to withdraw by the National Book Foundation to preserve the integrity of the award and the judges' work." Myracle complied with the request.

The NBF has tried to atone by donating $5,000 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation at Myracle's suggestion, because Shine deals in part with gay kids. It has also apologized, according to the L.A. Times, saying: "The National Book Foundation regrets that an error was made in the original announcement of the Finalists for the 2011 National Book Award in Young People's Literature and apologizes for any confusion and hurt it may have caused Lauren Myracle."

"We are so proud of our faculty and alumnae," said VCFA President Thomas Christopher Greene. "All three books are deserving of attention, but we are especially proud of Lauren – for her grace, for her professionalism, and for her unswerving dedication to her many readers.  We stand firmly behind her and the difficult decision she has made."

About Vermont College of Fine Arts ...

Vermont College of Fine Arts is a national center for education in the arts, fostering the excellence of emerging and established artists, while advancing the arts to create a more humane world. It is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), offering the Master of Fine Arts degree in writing, visual art, music composition and graphic design.

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SOURCE Vermont College of Fine Arts