Just Press Play

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting millions of people’s lives in unprecedented ways, PEN America’s World Voices Festival launches a new playlist series with songs selected by some of our favorite authors from around the world.

Every week, Just Press Play brings the soundtracks of poets and novelists’ writing lives into homes and offices everywhere. From the balconies of Milan to the speakers of our smartphones, these playlists remind us all that music, like books, can connect humanity from a distance.

Roya Marsh

This week, poet, performer, educator, and activist Roya Marsh, author of a new poetry collection dayliGht, curates a playlist that allows her—and hopefully, you, too—to feel all kinds of things: 

“If you know me, then you know I’m practically a walking music library. There’s not a memory in my mind that isn’t tied to a song. And what better time for music and literature than when we’re all bound to our homes? 

“My heart aches for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic—and for the families, friends, and finances ravaged by our government’s clumsy response to it. I haven’t hugged my mother in over a month, for her own safety. I’m afraid for her. My very public life and personal relationships have moved into a virtual space, where I’m teaching, performing, and celebrating life’s joyous occasions via online conferencing platforms and social media streaming services.

“In these times, when distance is imperative and touch is limited, music is a crucial means of feeling things. Before every prep session, during my writing time, while cooking a meal, or re-cleaning the same areas I’ve already cleaned three times over, there’s a soundtrack playing. Here’s a glimpse of the songs that have allowed me to continue feeling things in these lonely moments.” 

Check out her playlist on Spotify and YouTube today, and purchase dayliGht on Bookshop or Amazon.

Roya’s Favorite: “Under the Sun” from Dreamville, featuring DaBaby

About Roya Marsh

Roya Marsh, a Bronx native, is a poet, performer, educator, and activist. She is the Poet in Residence at Urban Word NYC, and she works feverishly toward LGBTQIA justice and dismantling white supremacy. Marsh’s work has been featured in The BreakBeat Poets, Volume 2: Black Girl Magic (2018).

Join us next week for a playlist from Bela Shayevich, the visual artist, writer, and translator of Svetlana Alexievich’s Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets