Famous Writers Plan A ‘Literary Protest’ On The Steps Of The New York Public Library
“Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression” is the name of the protest, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m. in New York City. The event is open to members of the public, who are welcome to join “hundreds of writers and artists and thousands of New Yorkers” in a gathering planned on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
“Stand with PEN America to defend free expression, reject hate crimes and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation!” a Eventbrite listing, shared with PEN followers on Wednesday, proclaims.
The “protest” will consist of two parts. First, there will be a series of readings outside the NYPL, including performances by American poet laureates Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove, who will each share “inaugural” poems with the crowd. A full list of “featured” writers appears below:
Meena Alexander, Laurie Anderson, Moustafa Bayoumi, Erin Belieu, Amy Brill, Rosanne Cash, Alexander Chee, T. Cooper, Michael Cunningham, Eisa Davis, Mónica de la Torre, Alex Dimitrov, Rita Dove, Charlotte Druckman, Melanie Dunea, Storm Ervin, Jeffrey Eugenides, Angela Flournoy, Masha Gessen, Allison Glock, Amy Goodman, Jeff Gordinier, David Haskell, A.M. Homes, Siri Hustvedt, Mary Karr, Michael Klein, Jaime Manrique, Colum McCann, Jill McDonough, Rick Moody, Honor Moore, Kathleen Ossip, Robert Pinsky, Francine Prose, Kevin Prufer, Sofia Quintero, Jason Reynolds, Jess Row, Esmeralda Santiago, Hirsh Sawhney, Bob Shacochis, Brenda Shaughnessey, Deborah Solomon, Andrew Solomon, Art Spiegelman, Terese Svoboda, Craig Teicher, Charlie Vazquez, Jonathan Wells, Meg Wolitzer, Zachary Wood, Jacqueline Woodson, Monica Youn and many more to be announced.
After the readings, a group of PEN America leaders will lead protesters to Trump Tower in order to present PEN America’s free expression pledge on the First Amendment to “a member of the President elect’s team.” The pledge, which PEN reports has been signed by over 110,000 individuals, reads in part:
On January 20, Donald J. Trump will take the oath of office and swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. During his presidential campaign, his statements and actions called into question his commitment to constitutional principles, including the freedom of expression. Of specific concern were his threats and insults directed toward journalists, arbitrary limitations on media access and comments in support of potential legal reforms that would weaken First Amendment protections.
Poet Erin Belieu launched Writers Resist, a co-sponsor for the Jan. 15 protest. The project takes the form of a website geared toward inspiring “a unified vision for the future of Democracy” through IRL events. You can check out the site to find an event near you.
In other PEN news, speculative fiction master Margaret Atwood recently cautioned America against “dictators of any kind” in a brief letter in support of and distributed by PEN America. And earlier this year, over 450 writers, including Stephen King and Michael Chabon, signed a petition calling out President-elect Donald Trump’s “nativism and bigotry.”