Worker Writers School

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The Worker Writers School supports writers from one of New York City’s most ubiquitous and yet least-heard populations: low-wage workers. Mark Nowak, a poet and former trade unionist, founded the institute at a Ford factory in 2011. Most participants are affiliated with progressive labor organizations like Domestic Workers United, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, the Taxi Workers Alliance, the Worker Justice Center, the Laundry Workers Center, the Retail Action Project, Damayan Migrant Workers Association, and the Restaurant Opportunities Center.

At monthly writing workshops, taxi drivers, nannies, street vendors, construction workers, food service workers, home-health aides, maids, nail salon manicurists, and retail cashiers, among many others, come together to re-imagine their working lives through poetry. The program also funds an annual writing retreat for students in upstate New York and a fall teaching assembly for writers, academics, workers, and the general public in New York City. More broadly, the program nurtures new literary voices directly from the global working class and inspires new tactics for working-class social change.

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2019 World Voices Festival: Words of the Worker Writer, featuring Sonia Sanchez

2019 PEN World Voices Festival: Words of the Worker Writer, featuring Sonia Sanchez

This special celebration showcased transcendent poetry written by Worker Writer poets, accompanied by acclaimed poet and Black Arts Movement catalyst Sonia Sanchez, who read selections of her work and spoke about the vital importance of poetry.

Watch video of the event here.