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Writers as Witness: When Reporting is Personal

Many writers avoid incorporating current events in their work until it is at a safe distance, but in the last few years a sort of resistance movement has formed, with writers, poets, and artists unapologetically taking on the issues of the day on a sometimes moment-by-moment basis.

In this discussion, PEN America has collaborated with Scuppernong Books and Greensboro Bound to bring a conversation among poets, nonfiction, and fiction writers about responding to the current cultural moment in their practice and in their work.

Erika Meitner, Poet

Erika Meitner’s Holy Moly, Carry Me was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, a Finalist for the 2019 Library of Virginia Award in Poetry, and the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry

Deonna Kelli Sayed, Author

Deonna Kelli Sayed is an internationally published author, a storyteller, and an award winning podcast producer.  She is an interfaith dialogue instigator and a recovering ghost hunter. Deonna is the author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks and Spirits. Her essays are included in Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and Faithfully Feminists: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Feminists on Why We Stay.

Mary Coyne Wessling, Writer

Mary Coyne Wessling has practiced free lance journalism for more than 30 years. She has written on a range of topics but her passion lies in the realm of reporting personal stories. Mary Coyne had the honor of traveling to the middle of Georgia on a hot August weekend to serve as a witness to the brutal conditions our immigrant brothers suffer in the largest U.S. detention center. She has not only written her personal account of this journey but edited other witnesses’ stories of this trip to Lumpkin, GA. Those stories will be available to the public in a book set to be published in the summer of 2020.