Greater Boston Writers Resist Recap

When I started organizing last week’s Boston Writers Resist event, I knew I wanted Writers Persist to be part of the title. For the writers who’ve always voiced dissent, and written about politicized issues: the subjects of their work are the topics that affect all of us. Racism affects everyone. Gun violence and police brutality affects everyone. The fight for equal rights and protections for queer and trans communities, especially in communities of color, affects everyone. Climate change affects everyone, and you better believe denying science does too. Sexual assault affects everyone. Mass incarceration affects everyone. War affects everyone.

We could quibble to what degree everyone is affected. But the more important question is: in what ways are we comfortable enough to simply dismiss society’s problems because we don’t believe we’re affected? And what will it take to to look inward and question that comfort, and write honestly about the ways white supremacy, heteronormativity, wealth disparity, and hatred permeates our communities, even the communities as liberal as we believe we have here in Boston?

I urged the audience on Saturday to listen closely to the work and the words of these authors, but also to look to themselves.  Don’t shy away from the topics that you think are off limits. Write the parts of your life that the rest of us need to see.

Many of the authors who read and presented work on Saturday have books you can buy. I strongly encourage you to support their work by visiting the links below.

Sam Cha’s American Carnage

Jennifer De Leon’s Wise Latinas and Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From (forthcoming)

JoeAnn Hart’s Float

Krysten Hill’s How Her Spirit Got Out

Simone John’s Testify

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir 

Timothy Patrick McCarthy‘s Stonewall’s Children: Living Queer History in the Age of Liberation, Loss, and Love (forthcoming)

Kim McLarin‘s Womanish: A Grown Black Woman Speaks on Love and Life (forthcoming)

Alex Myers’s Revolutionary

 

Many thanks to all the co-sponsoring organizations, especially the Boston Public Library and Brookline Booksmith, and to Randolph Pfaff, who took these photos:

 

Our promotional image. Photo by Henry Han. Design and photo manipulation by Carissa Halston.

Sam Cha stands behind a podium holding a book.

Sam Cha reads a scene from AMERICAN CARNAGE, about Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold.

Timothy Patrick McCarthy stands behind a podium.

Timothy Patrick McCarthy reads a letter to his niece, Malia, the final chapter from his forthcoming book, STONEWALL’S CHILDREN: LIVING QUEER HISTORY IN THE AGE OF LIBERATION, LOSS, AND LOVE.

Simone John stands behind a podium.

Simone John reads poems from TESTIFY about police brutality and anti-black racism, and reminds us that persistence is necessary for resistance.

JoeAnn Hart stands behind a podium.

JoeAnn Hart reads from her novel, FLOAT, and gives an overview of what’s at stake when it comes to climate change.

Khury-Petersen Smith stands behind a podium.

Khury Petersen-Smith reads an essay about his time in Okinawa, and how our communities can’t be kept safe through increased border security.

Alex Myers stands behind a podium.

Alex Myers talks about gender, language, and identity, and reads from his novel, REVOLUTIONARY.

Jennifer De Leon stands behind a podium.

Jennifer De Leon discusses immigration, and reads from her forthcoming novel, DON’T ASK ME WHERE I’M FROM.

Edwin Padilla and Alondra Padilla stand behind a podium.

Edwin Padilla (left) and Alondra Padilla (right), not related, talk about their experiences studying writing with Jennifer De Leon at Margarita Muñiz Academy, and present their video, “American Dreamers Write: Reclaiming Our Stories.”

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich stands behind a podium.

Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich reads from her memoir, THE FACT OF A BODY: A MURDER AND A MEMOIR, and discusses being gay, the #MeToo movement, and writing about trauma. Perhaps most important, she urges us, “Don’t shut up.”

Kim McLarin stands behind a podium.

Kim McLarin encourages us to reclaim the flag, and reads about self-delusion and death from two essays in her forthcoming collection WOMANISH: A GROWN BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS ON LOVE AND LIFE.

Krysten Hill stands behind a podium.

Krysten Hill reads poems about working-class life, surviving assault, and cultivating growth.

Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Kim McLarin, Simone John, Krysten Hill, Sam Cha, Jennifer De Leon, Alondra Padilla, Edwin Padilla, Alex Myers, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and JoeAnn Hart sit in a row of chairs on stage below a projection screen with a list of their names.

Kim McLarin discusses teaching and writing during the Q&A. (Left to right: Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Kim McLarin, Simone John, Krysten Hill, Sam Cha, Jennifer De Leon, Alondra Padilla, Edwin Padilla, Alex Myers, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and JoeAnn Hart.)

Greater Boston Writers Resist in DigBoston

We’re just three days from Greater Boston Writers Resist, and it’s impossible to overemphasize the need for free press right now. I hope you’ll consider attending on Saturday. If you need another reason, the kind crew at DigBoston ran an excerpt from Sam Cha’s American Carnage to plug the event, so check out a bit of the opening below and read the rest at DigBoston—or if you’re in town, it’s also in the print edition!—and be sure to come to the BPL in Copley Square on Saturday to hear Sam kick off Writers Resist. Let’s get together and recommit to writing our way through this administration, and making ourselves heard among all the noise.

“I looked down at the thing inside the case, nestled in black foam rubber.

Oh, I said.

Here, said Mat. You wanna hold it?

It was the damnedest thing.

I didn’t, but I did.”

— Sam Cha, from “How We Came to America (1)”

 

A note: if you’re far from Boston but still want to support our work, you can donate to us directly, and if you want to support an organization that’s keeping us all informed of the difficult details in the news right now, we’re especially reliant on ProPublica these days, and we’d love to keep them in business.

Announcing Forward: 21st Century Flash Fiction

Writers, readers, friends, neighbors, strangers, everybody: we’re proud to announce a new series of books dedicated solely to flash fiction by writers of color! Spearheaded by Megan Giddings, editor at The Offing and Boulevard, Forward: 21st Century Flash Fiction is a new print anthology of flash fiction and craft essays, and we’re publishing the first volume next March!

Want to help us get started on this exciting project? Know someone whose work would be perfect for the anthology? Or just want more information? Head over to the call for submissions to check out the FAQ!

June 23: Greater Boston Writers Resist/Greater Boston Writers Persist

Last January, writers across fifty cities and three continents gathered to re-affirm their support of freedom of expression. Since then, writers in various fields have faced increasingly hostile threats.

Author and activist Ijeoma Oluo received death threats on Twitter last August after making a joke about leaving a rural Cracker Barrel without enduring racial violence. She reposted the death threats on Facebook. Facebook shut down her account.

Journalist Dan Heyman was arrested in Virginia last May for repeatedly asking then-Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the Republican health bill that had just cleared the House. Heyman was charged with “willful disruption of state government processes.” Tom Price never answered Heyman’s question.

And, this past winter, after the Department of Health and Human Services released a list of words CDC employees should avoid in order to increase their chances of getting funding—a list that included words like “transgender,” “vulnerable,” and “diversity”—author and expert on autocratic regimes Sarah Kendzior wrote:

“Yes, of course [the CDC word list is] a sign of authoritarianism. But the worst signs are those that don’t announce themselves. Look for more nefarious paths to censorship: partisan firings, funding cuts, prohibitions on public documents.”

In this era, as we continue to face institutionalized racism, a reversal of free speech and free press, police brutality, the undermining of facts and science, gun violence, widespread deportation, LGBTQ discrimination, religious intolerance, domestic violence, mass incarceration, misogyny, and a range of other actions not so easily described, it sometimes seems too much to catalog or write about.

Yet, authors who write about political and politicized issues not only keep readers informed. Their work provides us with methods to regroup and heal. And authors who’ve written at length about the subjects above take stances on the page to make readers feel whole in a world that sometimes threatens to break us.

Although it seems particularly difficult right now, we’re lucky to have a wealth of writers in greater Boston to learn from, authors who inspire readers to engage with the realities of our times, and whose work paves the way for their fellow writers to tackle society’s threats.

In the spirit of celebrating and attesting our ongoing commitment to freedom of expression, we’re bringing together ten authors and two student writers to read from their work and discuss how they’ve used writing as a method of persistent resistance. From self-expression to education to community outreach, their work is a testament to the strength of our broader literary community.

To that end, we hope you’ll join us on Saturday, June 23, 1-3pm, at Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square (700 Boylston St) when the following authors and writers will lead the next Greater Boston Writers Resist event:

Sam Cha
Jennifer De Leon
JoeAnn Hart
Krysten Hill
Simone John
Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Timothy Patrick McCarthy
Kim McLarin
Alex Myers
Edwin Padilla
Khury Petersen-Smith
Angie Ramos

The event will be hosted by Carissa Halston. Books by the authors will be for sale at the BPL on the day of the reading, courtesy of Brookline Booksmith. The event is free and open to the public. RSVP on Facebook

Greater Boston Writers Resist/Persist is co-sponsored by Aforementioned Productions, PEN America, Boston Public Library, Boston Cultural Council, Brookline Booksmith, The Critical Flame, AGNI, Arrowsmith Press, Black Ocean, The Boston Book Festival, The Boston Poet Laureate Program, The Common, CONSEQUENCE, Grub Street, Harvard Review, Louder than a Bomb, MassLEAP, The Massachusetts Review, MassMouth, The Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement, New England Foundation for the Arts, Ploughshares, The Poets’ Theatre, Post Road, Salamander, StoriesLive, The Writers’ Room of Boston, The William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, and The Woodberry Poetry Room.

Writers Resist is a national network of writers driven to #WriteOurDemocracy by defending the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democratic society. #WritersResist

Upcoming readings and festivals


It’s finally starting to feel like winter might really be over, which is as good a time as any to venture out to bookstores and literary festivals!

If you’re in the Boston area, you can find us or our authors at the following events:

Monday, April 23 at 7pm
Krysten Hill reads at AGNI release party
Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
949 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

Thursday, April 26 at 7pm
Krysten Hill reads at Belmont Books (with Maggie Dietz and Sandra Lim)
79 Leonard St, Belmont, MA

Saturday, May 5
Massachusetts Poetry Festival

11am-4pm
Small Press Literary Fair
We’ll have a table at the book fair this year, so come out and see us. Pick up a copy of the latest issue of apt, or any other AP titles!

12:15pm
Panel and Workshop: Poetry as Social Action
Krysten Hill will join Boston’s Poet Laureate, Danielle Legros Georges, as well as authors Fred Marchant and Gloria Mindock, to discuss writing work that focuses on justice, resistance, and ways to bolster spirits and protect the disenfranchised in uncertain times.

9:30pm
Reading: What Poetry Means to Me
Krysten Hill joins Michael Ansara, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Alice Kociemba, and Lisa Mangini to tell stories about how poetry has changed their lives.

Saturday, June 23 1-3pm
Greater Boston Writers Resist/Greater Boston Writers Persist
Boston Public Library – Central Library at Copley Square
700 Boylston St, Boston, MA
Rabb Lecture Hall

Readers to include: Sam Cha, Jennifer De Leon, JoeAnn Hart, Krysten Hill, Simone John, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Timothy Patrick McCarthy, Kim McLarin, and Khury Petersen-Smith, among others.

Greater Boston Writers Resist in June at the Boston Public Library


Last year, I (Carissa) attended an inspiring event that coincided with Inauguration Day: the Greater Boston Writers Resist event, which was organized by a small group of volunteers and co-sponsored by more than two dozen area literary and democratic institutions (including AP). Before the election, I’d voiced concerns that our first amendment rights were being threatened, and since then, to no surprise, those threats have materialized. The travel ban targeting predominately Muslim countries, the gag order on the EPA (and countless other organizations), White House Press Secretaries telling reporters how they should cover the news, and proposed legislation that would make it legal to run over peaceful protestors.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, gathering is an important tool in resisting, but since writing is such a solitary activity, writers don’t often get together to produce work. Our resistance instead happens on the page. Luckily, Writers Resist events solve that problem.

And as last year’s GBWR event proved, there are a lot of writers in the greater Boston area who want to band together to combat white supremacy, fascism, and denial of our country’s ongoing social problems—there were so many people at the reading last January the library broadcast it into the lobby so the people waiting in line to come in could listen as well.

Of course, showing up is only one part of resisting. I’m invested in starting a conversation to ensure that our resistance exceeds the reach of picketing. I want to talk about how resistance becomes persistent. To that end, I’ve partnered with the Boston Public Library to host the next Greater Boston Writers Resist Event, which I’m calling Greater Boston Writers Persist.

All the authors who are reading have devoted many pages to political and politicized issues long before 2016, so this promises to be an exciting, necessary event. Join us on Saturday, June 23, at 1-3pm in the Boston Public Library to hear how writers have used their writing as a means of civil disobedience, and how we as fellow writers and readers can follow their lead.

More info to come, including the full line-up and partnering organizations, in the next two weeks.

Carissa and Randolph interviewed in The Writer magazine

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Halston and Pfaff: fearless leaders. (Photo credit: Megan Smith)

We’re humbled and excited to be featured in The Writer‘s round-up of Literary Power Couples, a.k.a. couples who run literary magazines and presses. We’re in the esteemed company of Leesa-Cross Smith and Loran Smith of WhiskeyPaper Press and Donna Talarico and Kevin Beerman of Hippocampus Magazine and Books.

Many thanks to Melissa Hart for asking us to take part in the article—be sure to read up on Hippocampus and WhiskeyPaper, and if you’re looking to start a literary journal, or even a press or a conference, etc., definitely look through the article. Working in publishing takes commitment from everyone involved, and longevity in publishing takes work—just like any solid relationship.

Boston Cultural Council grant for 2018

Logo from the City of Boston's Arts and Culture department
We’re thrilled to announce that Aforementioned has received a grant from Boston Cultural Council for 2018—and in the BCC’s official press release, Mayor Marty Walsh confirmed we’re in fine company: “This is an exciting time for the City of Boston because we are investing in organizations and projects that have the potential to enhance Boston’s arts and culture community.”

Boston has been home to so many of our authors and we’ve hosted dozens of events in the Greater Boston area since our inception in 2005. We’re so proud to continue serving literary communities throughout the city, and we hope to have more readings and books for you all year long.

If you’re in the area, be sure to drop by Porter Square Books tonight at 7pm to help us celebrate the eighth print annual of apt, with readings by local authors John Bonanni, Gillian Devereux, and Krysten Hill. And if you’re not local, you can still pick up a copy of our latest issue from the apt site.

Release party for apt’s Eighth Print Issue


We’re so proud to continue supporting long-form writing through apt–and we’re especially proud of our latest issue, featuring fiction by Michael Keefe and Anna Carolyn McCormally, and poetry by John Bonanni, Aaron Brown, and Danielle Mitchell!

Copies are now available, and if you’re in Boston, you can pick one up on Monday, February 5 at Porter Square Books, when we’ll have John Bonanni, Gillian Devereux, and Krysten Hill reading from issues 6-8!

The reading is free and open to the public, so bring a friend, get a warm drink, and help us celebrate these writers and their dedication to nuanced, in-depth writing.

Don’t forget to RSVP, and we’ll see you in February!

 

 

THE READERS

 John Bonanni lives on Cape Cod, MA, where he serves as editor for the Cape Cod Poetry Review. He is the recipient of a scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a residency from AS220 in Providence, RI. His work has appeared in CutBank, Assaracus, Verse Daily, The Seattle Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Prairie Schooner.

Gillian Devereux received her MFA in Poetry from Old Dominion University and directs the writing center at Wheelock College, where she also teaches creative writing. She is the author of Focus on Grammar (dancing girl press, 2012) and They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights (Aforementioned Productions, 2011), and her poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently The Midwest Quarterly; The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society; Sundog Lit; Boog City; and Printer’s Devil Review. Gillian likes robots, knitting, small woodland creatures, film noir, gin, and the library.

Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Blacksmith House, Cantab Lounge, Merrimack College, U35 Reading Series, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in apt, Word Riot, The Baltimore Review, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, Take Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award and her chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out (Aforementioned Productions), received the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.

 

Presented as part of the Roundtable Reading Series at Porter Square Books, sponsored by Journal of the Month.

Joyce Peseroff reviews HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT

hhsgo_blue_Joyce Peseroff, author of five books of poetry, most recently Know Thyself (Carnegie Mellon, 2016), wrote a knockout review of How Her Spirit Got Out. Here’s a peek at the beginning, and then a bit from the end:

Krysten Hill’s chapbook is as fresh as today’s headlines. It calls out a culture where women continually risk abuse, invisibility, and soul-killing erasures, and where black women are particularly threatened….

Hill’s poems include allusions to foremothers like Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath, and Zora Neale Hurston. Like Lorde, she responds to sexism, racism, and injustice with passion and perception. From Plath, she’s learned to figure the details of her life in images that are fierce and arresting. Hill understands the power of narrative and savor of vernacular speech, both loved by Hurston. The result is a voice that is beautiful and raw, intimate yet public, both confident and vulnerable.

We couldn’t agree more, and there’s no time like the present to head over to the Aforementioned shop and pick up your copy of How Her Spirit Got Out.