• Home

DEFIANCE: The Spirit of ’89


April 30 | Joe’s Pub | NYC

With Eszter Babarczy, Jose Dalisay, Nick Flynn, Sergio Ramírez, Sarah Schulman, Larry Siems, Hwang Sok-yong, János Térey, and Paul Verhaeghen

June 5, 1989: an unidentified man faces down a column of tanks a day after hundreds are massacred in Tiananmen Square. It is one of the most enduring images from that spring of ferment and rebellion, and an iconic representation of a timeless and universal gesture: individual, nonviolent resistance to tyrannical authority. Join writers and artists from around the world for an evening of literature celebrating the power of one person, one body, one imagination to stand against the state.

Cosponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union and Joe’s Pub

• View the photo gallery on Flickr

• Entire event
• Anne Beeson reads from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
• Eszter Babarczy reads from “A Sentence About Tyranny” by Gyula Illyés
• Jose Dalisay reads poems by Alfredo Navarro Salanga
• Nick Flynn reads “Jasper, Texas, 1998” by Lucille Clifton and Other Poems
• Jameel Jaffer reads Guantánamo Bay affidavit
• Suketu Mehta reads a letter by Mahatma Gandhi
• Sergio Ramirez discusses a history of massacre in Latin America
• Sarah Schulman reads “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde
• Hwang Sok-Yong reads from The Old Garden
• Larry Siems discusses imprisoned activist Liu Xiaobo
• János Térey reads “Tell Fortinbras” by Tomas Venclova
• Paul Verhaeghen reads from Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

PEN Blogs

• Michael Kelleher:
When the Tiannanmen Square uprising occurred, I was a sophomore in college.  I lived in the DC suburbs, where my father owned a small car rental company. [More]

• Deji Olukotun:
The Spirit of ’89 Event, co-hosted by the PEN Freedom to Write Project and the ACLU, was a welcome respite from the more formal panels of the other events. [More]

• Lyn Miller-Lachmann:
Beneath a projection of the lone man standing in front of three Chinese tanks near Tienanmen Square, eleven readers and dozens of listeners came together at Joe’s Pub to hear selections that spoke of resistance to oppression in all its forms. [More]

• Shaun Randol:
After an afternoon with Jeffrey Sachs  and a moving evening with Bilal, Terricabras, and Guibert, I needed a drink. So I headed to Joe’s Pub for Defiance and raised a glass (or three) in solidarity . . . [More]

Get the Free Speech News You Need

protesters in face masks carrying old Belarusian national flags

PEN America has a new weekly newsletter, PEN Points, bringing you a digest of the biggest free expression news of the week, plus the analysis and insights you trust from PEN America experts.