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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

Chapter 5 - The Dangers of Audacity


Vanessa Place is one of this volume’s more notorious authors. I examine Place’s Tragodía (2010-11), a three-volume publication reproducing court reports written as part of her job as an appellant attorney for convicted rapists and paedophiles. Poetry scholars have hailed the project as a work of audacious feminism. This chapter provides careful comparisons of one of Tragodía’s cases with the original legal appeals documents from which it is drawn and another, non-poetic work by Place, The Guilt Project. I argue that Place’s conceptual audacity complicates and works against her stated feminist politics vis-à-vis the sex workers in the trial. Place provides a highly curated encounter with traumatic material, one which raises ethical questions about audacity’s role in furthering an author’s reputation and how that interacts with her stated feminist position. I use this final chapter to explore the ambivalences and contradictions in the politics of one particularly contentious new audacity author. Taken together, these chapters provide a guide to the contours of new audacity writing, its stakes, its politics, its contradictions, and its challenges to contemporary orthodoxies.

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