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PEN Live: Nothing Compares 2 U

PEN America is excited to announce PEN Live, a monthly series taking place on the first Thursdays of every month in the Red Room, the newly renovated speakeasy-style club on the third floor of KGB Bar. Each month, PEN Live! will give writers, artists, and performers the opportunity to address a specific themes through music, multimedia, and the written word, bringing PEN’s mission of celebrating the literature and art that free expression makes possible.

The series will kick off on Thursday, June 2 with a tribute to icon and music legend Prince, featuring storytelling, readings and live performances from Porochista Khakpour, Lincoln Michel, Elissa Schappell, James Yeh, and others. Writers and performers will share memories of their first encounters with Prince’s music and discuss his influence and impact on their own art. 

Purchase $10 tickets here

Zaheer Ali was named one of Brooklyn Magazine‘s “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” in 2016, Zaheer Ali is the Oral Historian at Brooklyn Historical Society, a nationally recognized urban history center founded in 1863. As Brooklyn Historical Society’s Oral Historian, he records, collects, archives, and curates the lived histories, testimonies, memoirs, and narrations of Brooklynites from all walks of life. Previously, he served under the direction of the late Manning Marable, as project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project (MXP) at Columbia University, and contributed as a lead researcher for Marable’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (2011). He is currently an adjunct lecturer at New York University’s School of Professional Studies, where he teaches American history. He has been a Prince fan for 35 years, and has been to over 30 Prince concerts, including several at Paisley Park.  

Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran, raised in Los Angeles and lives in New York City. She the author of a forthcoming memoir (HarperPerennial, 2017) and the novels THE LAST ILLUSION (Bloomsbury, 2014)—a 2014 “Best Book of the Year” according to NPR, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, Popmatters, Electric Literature, and more— and SONS AND OTHER FLAMMABLE OBJECTS (Grove, 2007)—the 2007 California Book Award winner in “First Fiction,” one of the Chicago Tribune’s “Fall’s Best,” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera America, Bookforum, Slate, Salon, Spin, The Daily Beast, Elle, and many other publications around the world. She is currently writer-in-residence at Bard College.

Lincoln Michel is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature and the co-editor of Gigantic. His fiction has appeared in Granta, Oxford American, NOON, Tin House, Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. His essays and criticism has appeared in The Believer, the New York Times Book Review, the Guardian, and elsewhere. He’s the author of Upright Beasts, a collection of short stories, and the co-editor of Gigantic Worlds, an anthology of science flash fiction. He tweets @thelincoln.

Elissa Schappell is an American novelist, short story writer, editor, and essayist. Her first book of fiction, Use Me (2000), was runner up for the PEN/Hemingway Award. She is the co-founder of the literary magazine Tin House and Editor-at-Large. She is also a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and author of the “Hot Type” book column. She was previously a Senior Editor at The Paris Review. She teaches at schools including Columbia University, NYU, and Queens University. Originally from Delaware, she now lives in Brooklyn with her family.



James Yeh is a writer and editor. He is a founding editor of the literary and arts magazine Gigantic and the culture editor of VICE.com. His stories and nonfiction appear or are forthcoming in BOMB, Tin House, the Believer, the Paris Review Daily, artnet, Tank magazine, Fence, The Organist, and the anthology 30 Under 30, and he is a frequent contributor to NOON. A recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Columbia University, he was named a Center for Fiction New York City Emerging Writers Fellow in 2011, and the writer-in-residence at the Hub City Writers Project in 2014.