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.

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

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.