On Revolutionary Love and Poetic Resistance

Headshots and names of Threa Almontaser, Edwidge Danticat, John Freeman, and Yusef Komunyakaa with multicolor ripped paper on bottom edge


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This event is part of the 2021 PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Visit pen.org/festival to learn more and get tickets for other events.

A reflection on a year like no other from resounding voices in American letters. Yusef Komunyakaa, Edwidge Danticat, and Threa Almontaser join moderator John Freeman in a searching conversation, asking how we can convert personal and collective grief left by the pandemic—and the injustices that were heightened and exposed in its midst—into collective repair, and how we can attain the revolutionary love we need.

The new and old poems in Pulitzer Prize-winner Yusef Komunyakaa’s most recent collection, Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth, form a “roving survey of history and nature,” in which “violence often meets beauty” with “muscular…lyrical precision” (Publishers Weekly). The poet, often evoking his own recollections of fighting in the Vietnam War, offers up visceral visions of past and contemporary conflicts in “nimble verses” that “brim with erudition” (Hyperallergic).

Threa Almontaser’s Walt Whitman Award-winning debut collection, The Wild Fox of Yemen, is rife with “beautifully crafted poems [that] can feel like mini-histories, intricate narratives spanning only a few pages” (Chicago Review of Books) and touching on kindred themes from her vantage point as a young Yemeni immigrant coming of age in New York City after 9/11.

John Freeman’s forthcoming anthology, There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love, co-edited with Tracy K. Smith, assembles poems alongside many other short writings as remnants of our revolutionary pandemic year.

Edwidge Danticat is the author of numerous books, including The Art of Death, a National Book Critics Circle finalist. She is one of the many powerful contributors to There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love.

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Presented in collaboration with Strand Book Store.

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Edwidge Danticat headshotEdwidge Danticat is the author of several books, including Breath, Eyes, Memory, The Farming of Bones, and Claire of the Sea Light. She is also the editor of The Butterfly’s Way: Voices from the Haitian Diaspora in the United States, Haiti Noir, and Haiti Noir 2. She has written seven books for young adults and children, as well as a travel narrative, After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti, and a collection of essays, Create Dangerously. She is a 2009 MacArthur Fellow and a 2020 winner of the Vilcek Prize. Her most recent book, Everything Inside: Stories, is a 2020 winner of The Story Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.

John Freeman headshot

John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual of new writing, and executive editor at Alfred A. Knopf. His books include How to Read a Novelist and Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as Tales of Two Americas, an anthology about income inequality in America, and Tales of Two Planets, an anthology of new writing about inequality and the climate crisis globally. He is also the author of two poetry collections, Maps and The Park. His work has been translated into more than 20 languages, and has appeared in The New YorkerThe Paris Review, and The New York Times. The former editor of Granta, he teaches writing at New York University.

Threa Almontaser headshotThrea Almontaser is a Yemeni American author from New York City. Almontaser’s debut collection of poetry, The Wild Fox of Yemen, was selected by Harryette Mullen for the Academy of American Poets’s 2020 Walt Whitman Award. Her work can be found in The Adroit Journal, Passages North, diode poetry journal, The Rumpus, wildness, and elsewhere. She lives in Raleigh, NC.

Yusef Komunyakaa headshotYusef Komunyakaa is a writer whose books include The Emperor of Water Clocks, Testimony: A Tribute to Charlie Parker, The Chameleon Couch, Warhorses, Taboo, Talking Dirty to the Gods, and Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. His plays, performance art, and librettos have been performed internationally and include Wakonda’s Dream, Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh: A Verse Play. He teaches at New York University.

About Strand Book Store

Located on 12th and Broadway in New York City, the Strand Book Store is a family-owned, iconic literary destination with more than 90 years of history and 18 miles of books to prove it. Its events feature some of today’s most interesting and provocative authors. Its unparalleled inventory of 2.5 million new, used, and rare books and locally designed totes, gifts, and apparel makes it easy and exciting to get lost in the stacks.

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