On January 15th, writers, artists and activists will be coming together in New York City to “Stand with PEN America to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation!” Starting at the New York Public Library, readings and presentations from the likes of Rita Dove and Robert Pinsky will open the gathering. Many others are scheduled to appear including Amy Goodman, Laurie Anderson, Alexander Chee, Michael Cunningham, and Rosanne Cash.
After the New York Public Library Event, PEN America representatives will lead protestors to Trump Tower to deliver a freedom of expression pledge, signed by over 110,000 individuals, to “a member of the President Elect’s team.” Here is an excerpt from the pledge:
“On January 20, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office and swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. During his presidential campaign, his statements and actions called into question his commitment to constitutional principles, including the freedom of expression. Of specific concern were his threats and insults directed toward journalists, arbitrary limitations on media access and comments in support of potential legal reforms that would weaken First Amendment protections.”
Writers Resist is a co-sponsor of the event. The protest also has partnerships with Cave Canem, Tin House, Asian American Arts Alliance, Arts & Democracy, among others.
With more than a quarter of a million book donations secured thus far, the National Book Foundation has announced the U.S. nationwide Book Rich Environment Initiative. Working with publishers, and the federal agencies Dept of Education and Dept of Housing and Urban Development, donations will go to residents of public housing all over the country.
Board Chairman of the foundation, David Steinberger, speaks about the program:
“The National Book Foundation is committed to making sure all people, especially young people who are building their identity as readers, have access to books.By collaborating with these key national partners, we are able to build the Foundation’s reach and further our mission of making sure that books matter, and that they matter everywhere.”
The prize, established in 2013 for first-time novelists from Africa, is a platform for new talent and aims to “promote the burgeoning publishing industry in Africa.” The three finalists are The Seed Thief by Jacqui L’Ange – South Africa (Umuzi Publishers, South Africa), And After Many Days by Jowhor Ile – Nigeria – (Kachifo Limited, Nigeria) and Mr & Mrs Doctor by Julie Iromuanya – Nigeria – (Coffee House Press, U.S.). The winner of the 15,000 Pound prize will be announced in March. Good luck to all!
Earlier this week, a major Philippine news and entertainment portal for the Filipino global community, philstar.com, featured the works of individuals creating protest literature in the age of President Duterte. The piece highlighted Ian Rosales Casocot and his blog and Facebook page, Kill List Chronicles, which includes the work of many creatives, and tackles subjects such as extra-judicial killings (EJKs) throughout the poetry, essays, short stories, and other works.
The writer of this article, Alfred A. Yuson, was direct in his intention of the piece, offering,
“This new literature of protest will go on, as long as the object of protest stays, in fact even long after it’s gone. But while it’s going on, whipping our faces with its brutal insolence, this literature can only get stronger and more emphatically resounding. While it won’t stop the afflicted source that merits the condemnation, protest literature will help consign it deeper into the hellfire of history where it will undoubtedly belong.”- Alfred A. Yuson.
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Laurel Dowswell is the Features Editor at Change Seven. Her short story “I Am theEggman” was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. She was a copy editor for an independent feminist newspaper in Santa Fe, NM, after being raised and educated in Florida. She lives and writes in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta with her son. She is currently working on a novel filled with oil paintings, family drama, and the spectrum of sexuality. Follow her on twitter @laurels_idea.