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.

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.

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.

HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT wins 2017 New England Poetry Club award!

hhsgo_blue_We’re thrilled to announce that Krysten Hill’s chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, is the winner of the 2017 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from New England Poetry Club!

From Sara Backer, this year’s judge:

What struck me most were poems from Krysten Hill’s How Her Spirit Got Out: whether she’s recording a sister’s reaction to the shooting of her 12-year-old brother or the wreckage of a sweet potato pie, her words are fierce and fearless. Hill confronts us with the dangerous reality of the lives of black women, who may “go missing” because “they knew if they didn’t leave, they’d kill/ what they couldn’t afford to nurture” or go missing in another way when they hear a writing workshop leader ask “Is there any way/ you can write this poem/ from his perspective?” Hill’s words are precise and potent, and each time you read them, her poems mean more.

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of How Her Spirit Got Out, there’s no time like the present!

And if you’re in the Boston area, you can hear Krysten read tonight at 7 at Porter Square Books for the release party of Simone John’s debut collection, Testify!

Aforementioned in AIDS Walk Boston 2017

AP_AW2017We mentioned this a few months ago, but now we’re just one month away from this year’s AIDS Walk in Boston. We’ve assembled an Aforementioned team to raise money and awareness for those living in Boston and Massachusetts with HIV and AIDS.

As we said before, we feel this cause is particularly important now, with the Affordable Care Act at risk of being eliminated. People with pre-existing conditions will be particularly vulnerable to losing their access to health care. And even more so, now that Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker proposed a $4.8 million cut to the state’s funding for HIV patients. The House budget committee got it down to a $3.8 million cut, but that’s still quite a gap. So we’re working to do our part to offset the deficit.

Even if you’re not in Boston, you can still help us by donating via the Aforementioned team page. And even if you don’t have the means to make a donation, we hope you’ll spread the word and help us reach as many donors as possible.

Recap of ICHH marathon reading

image1It snowed. It sleeted. There were 40 mph winds. If I didn’t believe in climate change, I’d say it was as if someone wanted to stop our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here. But we started with a crowd of 50 people, many of whom stayed for the first several chapters.

People came and went throughout the event. Friends showed up. Strangers showed up. Most stayed for 50-60 pages. A handful of people came at the beginning, left, and came back for the end. A couple said they went home and read some there, then came back for the finale.

One audience member named Alex stayed from start to finish.

Around chapter 29, I’d been awake for 24 hours.

We discovered the best way to stay alert was to move around. So people paced. Slow laps, circling in the back. We all wanted to hang in for as long as we could.

Shortly after the middle of the novel, Shuchi started streaming the reading via Facebook Live.

Toward the end of chapter 30, I was falling asleep. I took a 20-minute nap, and woke up not knowing where I was. Then, I heard Ann Leamon reading chapter 31. I remembered what was happening. I rejoined the reading and stayed awake through the rest of the event. After I read the final chapter, I reminded everyone of how we began.

The night started with a presentation, an overview of Lewis’s career, covering who he was and who he wasn’t (a writer who refused a Pulitzer Prize, and later was awarded the Nobel, Lewis never said “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”), also covering what the novel was and wasn’t. It wasn’t hindsight after World War II. It was a warning of the potential danger on its way. Lewis wrote ICHH before concentration camps were synonymous with extermination camps. He wrote it before Hitler’s capacity for malice was fully realized. Lewis wrote during a period of self-assured apathy—people were so sure that America had seen the worst there was of humanity (during the first World War). Of course, it could and did get worse. But that didn’t keep Lewis from rendering his warning.

I have a list of highlights from the marathon reading, but I need to be clear: it’s hard to say that any single amazing moment outweighs my amazement at the event overall. The book is rough. It’s filled with hateful, scared people carrying out orders and making decisions motivated by hate and fear. There’s personal violence and political violence. And, as the novel goes on, more people die by grisly methods.

And beyond that, of course, there are the parallel threats we face now:

The authoritarian in the White House. The constant distraction (Mexico, a dangerous religion, regular allusions to his election rival, etc.). The potential that the president has conflicts of interest (in the novel, he’s embezzling millions). The silencing of journalists, potentially by force. The hunting and killing of people who know more than the government feels they should. We’ve only seen it in Russia thus far, but it’s tied to our election.

ICHH is a difficult book to read just on its own. It’s harder still to handle with the current political climate. I was worried going in that people wouldn’t spot Lewis’s message, and the indomitable spirit of those who would resist attempts at silence. But I was grateful to be wrong.

One woman came up to me after the reading and said her book club had read the novel right after the election, but it hadn’t struck her as funny until she heard us read it aloud.

I laugh at all sorts of inappropriate subjects and times, so I blurted out, “Really?” She said it had been too soon.

More than one person in the audience said the relevance was hard to take. And I understand—I agree—but that’s hardship I think we need right now. This book is not easy, but neither is the situation we’re facing.

In the novel, the authoritarian government sabotages itself due to in-fighting. That could potentially happen to the current administration, but even before that, we’re still facing suppressed speech. Last week, the administration banned the words “climate change,” “emissions reduction,” and “Paris Agreement” in memos, briefings, and other written communication. What can we do in response? Lewis rendered a skeptical journalist who had to be faced with murder of someone he knew before he would speak out against an authoritarian regime. Let’s not wait that long.

If you’re a teacher, a writer, a parent, you can reach a community (even a community of two) who trust you. You can insist on remaining committed to facts. You can write about climate change. You can describe it, define it, make an easy-to-read overview of the Paris Agreement. You can write about how the lives of people of color are more adversely affected by climate change. You can explain to anyone—anyone, your neighbors, your kids, your family members who might be supportive of this administration—the dangers inherent in censorship.

This reading was fun, but it was also more than that—it’s a simple blueprint of what we need to do. Resist, despite the threats. Remain committed to facts, despite the dishonesty we’re fed on a daily basis. And remember that this doesn’t have to be a dour fight. We can fight and still experience joy. And just because we’re tired—and I’m speaking from experience here—we can still rally and make a difference.

And now, as promised, here are the highlights from the reading:

Aaron Devine’s decision to channel Drumpf through Buzz Windrip for the election chapter.

Simeon Berry’s rousing impression of Bishop Paul Peter Prang.

Nathan Gray’s quiet fury in reading the chapter when Lorinda decides to leave.

Tim Hoover doing justice for the Jessup daughters in two different chapters several hours apart—Sissy, still funny and lighthearted at that point, and then the sober fearlessness of Mary’s death

Ann Leamon’s astounding (and consistent) commitment to lending literal voice to every man at Trianon Concentration Camp.

Shuchi Saraswat’s dual dead-of-night chapters (the near escape to Canada, and the formation of the resistance publication the Vermont Vigilance), both read with the tension required by both the late hour and the content.

And every reader who pounded the podium with exasperation when the chapter seemed to call for it (Rob Arnold, Josh Cook, Randolph Pfaff and many others that I’m likely forgetting.

I feel so indebted to all the readers—Molly Howes, Kurt Klopmeier, Simeon Berry, Danielle Jones-Pruett, Maria Hugger, Ric Amante, Julia Kennedy, Rob Arnold, Aaron Devine, Josh Cook, Tim Hoover, William Pierce (who bravely took on another chapter!), Lindsay Guth, Joell Beagle, Travis Cohen, Currie McKinley, Shuchi Saraswat, Randolph Pfaff, Nathan Gray, Sam Cha, Catherine Parnell, JoeAnn Hart, Ann Leamon, Nicole Keller, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, and Molly Mary McLaughlin. A hundred thousand thank yous especially to the staff of Brookline Booksmith, and doubly (triply) Shuchi Saraswat and Lydia McOscar for helping me in innumerable ways to plan and shape this event. And so much gratitude to Randolph, who kept running to get coffee through the night. And to every single person who came, despite the atrocious weather, I thank you.

To watch some of the readings, check out Brookline Booksmith’s Facebook page, as they were kind enough to capture some of the readings via Facebook Live.

And for more photos and videos, head to our FB and Instagram feeds.

DigBoston interviews Carissa Halston for the ICHH marathon reading

ICHH_posterLess than ten days from our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here and we’re so pleased to announce that DigBoston is our media sponsor for the event!

They’ve interviewed our own Carissa Halston about marathon readings, the First Amendment, and the role writers play in defending democracy:

“The tenets of democracy speak directly to freedom, but US laws and legal documents have often been written (or interpreted) according to a privileged bias, so, for every right and civil liberty we’ve got, there have been at least two amendments that had to be introduced later to make it clear that women and people of color are also entitled to that basic human right. To that end, in any country where democracy is touted as the foundation of society, the writers of that country need to chronicle the many ways democracy fails. Who democracy fails and how often and why. It’s deadly important information, especially when democracy fails so many people on a regular basis.”

They also asked their readers to suggest more novels about fascism, so once we’re done at the Booksmith on 4/1, we’ll all have more to read.

(Isn’t that always the way?)

Don’t forget to RSVP on Facebook so we’ll know to save you a seat—and some pizza and coffee and maybe some cake—and we’ll see you next week!

 

Boston Cultural Council grant + two readings at Brookline Booksmith!

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If you didn’t know, Aforementioned Productions is based in Boston. We’ve lived in a few cities now (Boston, New York, Baltimore), and Boston has our heart. So, late last year, we had immense pleasure of receiving news that we’ve received an organizational grant from the Boston Cultural Council for 2017. It covers a small portion (5%) of our operating costs, but it still feels rewarding to be recognized by this city that has meant so much to us.

The best part of that grant is that we’ll get to spend it on all the great authors and performers whose work we want to support, like Krysten Hill, whose galvanizing new chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, is already in its third printing. She’ll be reading next month at Brookline Booksmith with Ben Berman, so if you’re in Boston, and you missed her release party and her inspiring reading at the Boston Public Library for the GB Writers Resist event in January, you won’t want to miss this event!

Also, because we love the crew at the Booksmith, we’re especially excited to announce that they’ll be hosting our marathon reading of It Can’t Happen Here! So, please join us for an event of literary resistance when the fine crew at Brookline Booksmith will be hosting us overnight, March 31 at 7pm-April 1 at noon (ish). Readers include AP founders Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, as well as Shuchi Saraswat, Josh Cook, Catherine Parnell, Kurt Klopmeier, Karen Locasio, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, Aaron Devine, Maria Hugger, Julia Kennedy, Sam Cha, Simeon Berry, and more! This event is free and open to the public, and will involve resistance, subversive classic literature, a table of books you’re going to want to buy, plus free cupcakes (and probably wine). So, join us at Brookline Booksmith at the end of next month and stay up all night while we read Lewis’s sharp-sighted and sharp-tongued classic about one journalist’s fight against fascist America.

And if you need another reason, check out this promo image, designed by our ringleader and AP co-founder, Carissa Halston:

ICHH_poster