Anticipating the imminent inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the next U.S. President, writers & activists gathered on the weekend marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. in fifty cities, across three continents, for a counter-inaugural demonstration: #WritersResist.
More: See Act II
In Boston, attendees queued in long lines around the Boston Public Library, waiting for doors to open for the event. Rabb Lecture Hall was filled to capacity and inside, 25 presenters read poems and speeches intended to inspire everyone to resist bullying, advocate for immigration reform, women's choice, healthcare and open borders. In the words of the organizers, "...to re-inaugurate our shared commitment to free expression, civil rights, and the values essential to a democracy."
Readings and performances by Rob Arnold, Laura van den Berg, Michelle Garcia, Krysten Hill, Richard Hoffman, Helen Elaine Lee, Jennifer De Leon, Marianne Leone, Alma Richeh, Jabari Asim, Liana Asim, James Carroll, Martha Collins, Kofi Dadzie, Martín Espada, Danielle Legros Georges, Jennifer Haigh, Giles Li, Dale Peterson, Marta Rivera, Alexis Rizzuto and Fred Merchant.
Presented by Daniel Evans Pritchard, founding editor of The Critical Flame.
BIO: Daniel Pritchard
Daniel Evans Pritchard is the Marketing and Publicity Director for Boston Review. He is also a poet and critic, as well as the founding editor of The Critical Flame.
BIO: Michael Lowenthal
Michael Lowenthal's fourth novel, The Paternity Test (Terrace Books/University of Wisconsin Press, 2012), was an IndieNext selection and a Lambda Literary Award finalist. His previous novels are The Same Embrace (Dutton, 1998), Avoidance (Graywolf Press, 2002), and Charity Girl (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), which was a New York Times Book Review "Editors' Choice" and a Washington Post "Top Fiction of 2007" pick. His short stories and essays have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, the Southern Review, and the Kenyon Review, and have been widely anthologized, in such volumes as Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge (HarperCollins), Bestial Noise: The Tin House Fiction Reader (Bloomsbury), and Best New American Voices 2005 (Harcourt). He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, Boston Magazine, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Out, and many other publications.
The recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Wesleyan writers' conferences, the MacDowell Colony, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and the Instituto Sacatar, Lowenthal has also been awarded Lynchburg College's Thornton Residency and the James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists' Prize. He has taught creative writing at Boston College and Hampshire College, and as the Picador Guest Professor for Literature at Leipzig University in Germany. Since 2003 has been a core faculty member in the low-residency MFA program at Lesley University.
Before publishing his own work, Lowenthal was an editor at University Press of New England, where he founded the Hardscrabble Books imprint, publishing such authors as Chris Bohjalian, W.D. Wetherell, and Ernest Hebert. He studied English and comparative religion at Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1990 as class valedictorian.
A former board member of the literary human rights organization PEN New England, Lowenthal lives in Boston.
BIO: Krysten Hill
Krysten Hill is an educator, writer, and performer who has showcased her poetry on stage at The Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Blacksmith House, Cantab Lounge, Merrimack College, U35 Reading Series, Mr. Hip Presents, and many others. She received her MFA in poetry from UMass Boston where she currently teaches. Her work can be found in B O D Y, Muzzle, PANK, Winter Tangerine Review, apt, Amethyst Arsenic, Damfino Press, ROAR, and Write on the DOT.
She is the recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Her forthcoming chapbook, How Her Spirit Got Out, will be released by Aforementioned Productions in the fall of 2016.
BIO: Richard Hoffman
Richard Hoffman is author of Half the House: a Memoir, and the poetry collections, Without Paradise and Gold Star Road, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. His work, both verse and prose, has appeared in Agni, Ascent, Harvard Review, Hudson Review,Poetry, Witness and other magazines.
He has been awarded several fellowships and prizes, most recently a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in fiction, and The Literary Review's Charles Angoff Prize for the essay. He is currently Writer-in-Resident at Emerson College.
BIO: Alma Richeh
Alma Richeh was born in Damascus, Syria. Alma holds a law degree from Damascus University and an LL.M. degree in international legal studies from the American University, Washington College of Law in Washington D.C. She worked at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Damascus as an advocate to determine the refugee Status. For 8 years, Alma was a conductor for Al Farah Choir in Damascus. She conducted the choir’s youth division, where ages ranged between sixteen and twenty three, and lead the choir in many events and concerts. She concentrated on fundraising for humanitarian causes and children’s rights.
During her LL.M Studies, she worked as a teaching assistance to Ambassador and Professor Clovis Maksoud at the American University, Washington College of Law.
In Boston, she worked as a research intern at the Boston Consortium for Gender Security and Human Rights at the University of Massachusetts. Her research concentrated on the rights of women in countries of the Middle East from the legal, historic, cultural, religious and humanitarian perspectives.
Alma is currently conducting the CAC Children Choir, the first Arab American children choir in MA and an Arabic language teacher at CAC Arabic School.
BIO: Helen E. Lee
Helen E. Lee earned a BA at 1981 Harvard University in 1981 and a JD at Harvard Law School in 1985. She focuses in Writing and humanistic studies. Helen joined the MIT faculty in 1997.
Lee is a highly regarded author whose general subject, the lives and families of African-Americans, has come vividly to life in two well-received novels, The Serpent's Gift (1994) and Water Marked (1999). An inspired teacher and mentor at MIT, Lee has also served as fiction editor of "Callaloo," a major literary journal, and as a volunteer writing teacher in Boston-area correctional facilities.
BIO: Laura van den Berg
Laura van den Berg is the author of two story collections, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us and The Isle of Youth, and the novel Find Me, which was selected as a “Best Book of 2015” by NPR, Time Out New York, and BuzzFeed, among others, in addition to being longlisted for the 2016 International Dylan Thomas Prize. Laura was raised in Florida and earned her M.F.A. at Emerson College. She is the recipient of a Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard Fiction Prize, an O. Henry Award, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship. She has recently taught creative writing in the M.F.A. Program Columbia CB1University and at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. At present, Laura lives in Cambridge, MA with her husband, the writer Paul Yoon, and their dog, Oscar. She is a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University.
Photo: Harvard Book Store
BIO: Paul Yoon
Paul Yoon was born in New York City. His first book, Once the Shore, was selected as a New York Times Notable Book and a Best Debut of the Year by National Public Radio. His novel Snow Hunters won the 2014 Young Lions Fiction Award. His new collection, The Mountain, will appear in August. A recipient of a 5 under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation and a fellowship from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, he is currently a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard University along with his wife, the fiction writer Laura van den Berg.
Photo: Harvard Book Store
BIO: Marianne Leone
An accomplished screenwriter and essayist, Marianne Leone is also a film and television actress best known for her role as Christopher Moltisanti’s mother on “The Sopranos.” Her memoir, Knowing Jesse: A Mother’s Story of Grief, Grace, and Everyday Bliss, details her family’s struggle after her son, Jesse Lanier Cooper, born three months premature, developed a cerebral hemorrhage and cerebral palsy.
Bestselling author Tom Perrotta says of the book: “Knowing Jesse is an incandescent memoir, glowing with a mother’s love for her disabled son and fueled by her righteous anger. With fierce honesty and unexpected humor, Marianne Leone illuminates the challenges of Jesse’s life, the courage with which he faced them, and the joy he brought those lucky enough to know him.”
After his death in 2005, Leone and her husband, actor Chris Cooper, set up a memorial fund in Jesse’s name and have become advocates for children with disabilities around the world.