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[VIRTUAL] Doing the Work: Writers Coming Together in Times of Crisis

Headshots of Marwa Helal, Fransisco Gutierrez, and Ariana Brown

In partnership with the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), PEN America and The Literary Action Coalition are proud to present an online panel discussion with Marwa Helal, Francisco Gutierrez, and Ariana Brown, moderated by Alejandro Heredia of PEN America.

Writing is primarily an individual effort, but many of our most celebrated writers across all genres have also become known for their guidance of other writers along with their general contributions to fostering a sense of literary community. The goal of the conversation is for participants to walk away with greater knowledge of available opportunities to build community with writers as well as the confidence needed to find their own ways of doing the work.

Register in advance for the event. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about attending the event on Wednesday, December 9 at 4pm ET.


Ariana BrownAriana Brown Headshot ​is a queer Black Mexican American poet from the Southside of San Antonio, TX. Brown holds a BA in African diaspora studies and Mexican American studies from The University of Texas at Austin
as well as an MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. Brown is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes and is a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion. Brown’s work investigates queer Black personhood, affirmation, and care for Black gender marginalized people, and critiques of Latinidad. In January 2020, Brown released Sana Sana, her debut poetry chapbook from Game Over Books.

Fransisco Gutierrez HeadshotFrancisco Gutierrez is a writer and poet from México; born in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Gutierrez is the founder and director of Writers Club NY, a community-led writing and creative studio that has welcomed over 1,000+ writers in their first year as an organization, with members joining from cities like San Jose, CA to Kolkata, India. Gutierrez has similarly built with other online communities like Ethel’s Club, where they led their first writing group. Gutierrez holds a BS in marketing from Georgetown University and is a former staff member and alum of the online learning school, General Assembly.

Marwa Helal headshotMarwa Helal is the author of Invasive species and winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest. She is also the author of the chapbook I Am Made to Leave I Am Made to Return. Helal has been awarded fellowships from Poets House, Brooklyn Poets, Jerome Foundation, and Cave Canem, among others. Helal is an alum of NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program and is a 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Poetry. Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, she currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Alejandro Heredia headshot

Alejandro Heredia is the community outreach manager for PEN America, where he develops literary advocacy and press freedom programming throughout the country.