PEN America in the time COVID-19 moves Lit Festival from May to September; decries Trumps attack on journalist

American Museum of Natural History (NYC) courtesy of IngfbrunoCC BY-SA 3.0

Momentous Event at the American Museum of Natural History Brings Together the PEN America Community of Writers, Activists, and Cultural Luminaries to Support the Organization’s Increasingly Essential Advocacy of Truth-Telling and Free Expression

As a global public health crisis underscores the importance of credible, vital information, PEN America has confirmed a new date for the 2020 PEN America Literary Gala, its annual celebration of free expression and open discourse. The organization has rescheduled the event for September 15 (from May 19) and looks forward to convening its diverse, international community of writers, activists, and cultural luminaries in person to advance PEN America’s fundamental principles and honor the individuals who embody and uphold them.

“Denial, repression of facts, and disinformation have accelerated the spread of COVID-19 and impaired an effective response to it. Reliable truth—a prerequisite for assessing and ameliorating the crisis—is yet another casualty of this pandemic,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “We stand in solidarity with all truth-tellers at home in the U.S. and abroad and are mobilizing to shore up a literary community hard-hit by this unfolding crisis. The 2020 PEN America Literary Gala is an opportunity for the literary and free expression communities to stand up for their values and raise support to defend them. We regret having to postpone but are determined to mount a forceful stand together in the fall.”

Note: Trump also bragged about not distributing The New York Times or the Washington Post in the White House. For my own reasons, I’m not crazy about either paper, but the Times is traditionally consider the newspaper of record in the U.S. / J.D.

Trump Attacks NBC Reporter, Peter Alexander, When Asked To Assuage Fear

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel issued the following statement after President Trump chided a reporter for asking about what he would say to frightened Americans in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak:

NBC’s Peter Alexander interviewing Senator Chris Coons / public domain photograph courtesy of Senator Coons office

“President Trump’s shoot the messenger strategy of combating the coronavirus by attacking a reporter who did nothing more than point out the terror it is wreaking across America is shameful. Trustworthy, fact-based media has never been more essential to Americans than it is right now. The president’s effort to deflect the shortcomings of his administration’s response to the pandemic by attacking the reporters who question him has become an appalling daily spectacle and an international embarrassment to the United States. “

At the Gala, PEN America presents Patti Smith with the 2020 PEN/Audible Literary Service Award, for her prolific, multifaceted career and her unflinching determination to protest injustice and speak truth; and recognizes Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Executive Vice Chairman and Former CEO of Hearst, the event’s Corporate Honoree, for his dexterous, determined leadership of the company, an extraordinary source of philanthropy and a nimble force for quality journalism. As the event approaches, PEN America will announce the recipients of the PEN/Benenson Courage Award, for dauntless exercises of free expression, and the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, which goes to writers imprisoned for their work and spearheads advocacy campaigns on their behalf.

The PEN America Literary Gala is an annual highlight of New York’s literary, cultural, and social calendars and a vibrant cross-pollination of distinguished writers, human rights activists, publishers, editors, journalists, creative visionaries, and philanthropists. The event leaves guests moved and inspired to redouble their efforts in defense of truth, facts, the role of the media, and open dialogue as foundations of democracy. Proceeds of the dinner are crucial to PEN America’s cultural programming and advocacy work.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!


For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

PEN America International Festival Convenes Writers of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism; Featured poets include Danez Smith and Jamila Woods

Poet Danez Smith reading at Split This Rock 2018, Washington, D.C. courtesy of Slowking4 under GFDL 1.2

On Wednesday, May 4, Danez Smith perform for this Festival from their latest poetry collection, Homie, sharing their perspectives on seeking joy, intimacy, acceptance and safety from discriminatory violence in America. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective, an assemblage of poets and performers of color with a mission to amplify spoken word artists who explore race, religion, gender, queerness, hip-hop culture, and radical truth-telling in their art. After the performance they will talk about the potential of their art to celebrate race, the body, and identity politics.

Among the other Festival poets are: Mahogany L. Browne, Roya Marsh, Porsha Olayiwola, Jamilia Woods, Abdulla Pashew, Oksana Zabuzhko, Ben Okri, and Tatiana Voltskaya.

PEN America shares the highlights of its 16th Edition of the United States’ Leading International Literary Festival, bookended by an opening night event featuring Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, and Jia Tolentino in Conversation with Rebecca Traister and a closing performance by Jon Batiste, Suleika Jaouad, Zadie Smith and Tara Westover

Acclaimed authors, writers and poets Including Andrés Barba, Ishmael Beah, Mahogany L. Browne, Lydia Davis, Amitav Ghosh, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Hunter Harris,  Jeremy O. Harris, Yuri Herrera, Jill Lepore, Sara Mesa, Lynn Nottage, Ben Okri, Elif Shafak, Jenny Slate, Danez Smith, Brandon Taylor, David Treuer, Jeanette Winterson, Jamila Woods, and other participants in venues around New York.

PEN America presents the 2020 PEN World Voices Festival: These Truths, celebrating literature’s deep illumination of cultural, historical, political, and emotional truths in a complex moment when “truth” is destabilized by the constant undermining of a common set of facts, “objective” histories are being interrogated and upended, and radical candor about lived experiences is fueling powerful social movements. This festival brings together fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists for an array of conversations, interviews, readings, and musical performances on this infinitely prismatic subject.

Chip Rolley, Director of the PEN World Voices Festival and Senior Director of Literary Programs at PEN America, describes arriving at this year’s theme: “The crisis in truth in the American political sphere and a hallowed phrase from the U.S. Declaration of Independence were the jumping-off points for a festival that ultimately celebrates truth-telling on a wide range of topics and in myriad forms. We urgently need to hear the deeper truths afforded by literary fiction and by poetry, for literature to engage with contested histories and memory, and for journalists, historians and other non-fiction writers to present the world as it really is, to contest the fabrications served to us on an almost daily basis.”

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel says, “At a moment when we can rely on government officials neither to tell nor to face the truth, citizens must step into the breach. Truth-tellers such as investigative journalists, the courageous women behind the #MeToo movement, and the risk-everything whistleblowers attesting to government wrongdoing are driving the discourse while facing unrelenting attacks. Against this norm-defying backdrop, PEN America is proud to convene some of the world’s most transformative writers and thinkers in a show of force on behalf of complexity, facts, and veracity.”

Jamila Wood’s Album Cover for Legacy! Legacy!

On May 4th, soul-singer, song-writer, poet and recording artist behind LEGACY! LEGACY!, an album that draws inspiration from James Baldwin, Octavia Butler, and other great authors, Jamila Woodswill will present at this Festival. Jamila’s work focuses on themes of Black ancestry, Black feminism, and Black identity, with recurring emphases on self-love and the City of Chicago. After her performance at the Festival, she will talk about the potential of art to celebrate race, the body, and identity politics, offering a message of self-love and healing justice.

The 2020 PEN World Voices Festival opens May 4 with three compelling truth-tellers—Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, and Jia Tolentino—speaking with Rebecca Traister at The Town Hall about how women’s lives have been shaped by historical forces, religious and political dogma, today’s resurgent misogyny, and societal and personal gaslighting, that most cunning undermining of lived reality.

On May 6 at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project*, delivers the festival’s annual keynote address, the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, given in recent years by Arundhati Roy (2019) and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (2018). Hannah-Jones discusses her journalistic mission to reframe how we understand our nation, the legacy of slavery, and the unparalleled role Black people have played in U.S. democracy.

Public Domain

*The 1619 Project is an ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine in 2019 with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia. It is an interactive project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, a reporter for The New York Times, with contributions by the paper’s writers, including essays on the history of different aspects of contemporary American life which the authors believe have “roots in slavery and its aftermath.” It also includes poems, short fiction, and a photo essay.[2] Originally conceived of as a special issue for August 20, 2019, it was soon turned into a full-fledged project, including a special broadsheet section in the newspaper, live events, and a multi-episode podcast series.

The New York Times has said that the contributions were deeply researched, and arguments verified by a team of fact-checkers in consultation with historians. Civil War historians Gordon S. Wood, James M. McPherson and Richard Carwardine are among many who have criticized the 1619 Project, stating that the project has put forward misleading and historically inaccurate claims.

Like Hannah-Jones, bestselling author David Treuer (The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee) offers a powerful counter-narrative to a monolithic history—in this case, rebutting conventional wisdom about Native American experience (May 5 at Brooklyn Historical Society). In an event entitled The Last Archive, on May 7 at Symphony Space, celebrated historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore (These Truths: A History of the United States) interrogates a question at the heart of this year’s festival: How do we find the truth in the age of Google and “alternative” facts? Amitav Ghosh, Terry Tempest Williams, Maja Lunde, and Emily Raboteaucome together May 9 at the AIA Center for Architecture to consider the role of the writer in a society that denies science and the everyday realities of extreme weather amidst impending apocalypse.

Other events underscore the truth-telling potential of the creative act. On May 6 at the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri discusses his latest book, The Freedom Artist, which imagines a society where the disappearance of books and diminishment of literacy have led to the creation of a dystopia devoid of truth. On the heels of her Netflix comedy special Stage Fright, Jenny Slate will speak with Vulture writer Hunter Harris about her unclassifiable, keenly personal book Little Weirds (May 6 at the New School). On May 7 at Center for Fiction, Turkish-British writer-activist Elif Shafak and literary critic and Literary Hub Executive Editor John Freeman explore how words themselves have been used to misrepresent and distort reality, and how they can be reclaimed. Also on May 7, at Symphony Space, playwrights Jeremy O. Harris (Slave Play, Daddy, and Black Exhibition) and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage (Sweat, Ruined, and Intimate Apparel) discuss their impulse to expose uncomfortable, often hidden truths about race, class, and sexuality in American society.

PEN America President Jennifer Egan says, “A festival of writers, artists, and intellectuals affords a tonic opportunity to explore pressing topics from creative and unexpected angles. The offerings in “These Truths” include an evening melding dystopian fiction and West African music; a Russian queer poetry reading; and a cross-generational discussion between prominent Mexican novelists about how art can reclaim and subvert cultural stereotypes—to name just a smattering of auspicious events.”

You can visit the PEN AMERICA WORLD VOICES FESTIVAL WEBSITE for complete details and to purchase tickets. 

This post is courtesy of Wikipedia, PEN America, Amazon, and The 1612 Project, 

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. The organization champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!


For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

Where Literature Hits the Streets

“Workingman’s Cottages” built by philanthropist Alfred Tredway White as low-cost housing in 1876 (2009) / Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn / photograph released into the Universal Public Domain

“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another one of those events that not only sounds like great fun but similar events could easily be organized in any community anywhere in the world.

For the fifth season, PEN America is presenting its Lit Crawl NYC: Where Literature Hits the Streets on Saturday, October 12. This vibrant festival of books and culture will wind its way through Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill this fall, featuring lively conversations and events staged at local businesses throughout the neighborhood. This pub crawl style festival this year includes Monique Truong and Dr. Jessica Harris, and events curated by local literary organizations.

All events are free of charge:


6:00 to 7:00pm
A Multilingual Most Exquisite Corpse
Warby Parker, 55 Bergen St.

Words Without Borders and SLICE Literary present a Multilingual Most Exquisite Corpse. Join four international writers who, along with their translators, will stitch together a story in multiple languages.

Words Without Borders (WWB) is an international magazine opened to international exchange through translation, publication, and promotion of the world’s best writing and authors who are not easily accessible to English-speaking readers.

7:00 to 8:00pm
Queens Lit in Brooklyn
Bien Cuit, 120 Smith St.

Out boroughs unite! Queens is the most diverse county in the country—and the writing produced there reflects the voices of many races, religions, ages, gender identities, and sexualities, as well as those with dis/abilities and immigration stories. Newtown Literary, a nonprofit literary organization, publishes and nurtures the voices of Queens poets and writers through the publication of a literary journal and free writing classes. Come and hear poetry and prose from some of the organization’s volunteers and participate in a Queens trivia contest. Featuring Tim Fredrick, Jackie Sherbow, Malcolm Chang, and Sokunthary Svay. Presented by Newtown Literary.

2018 Queens Pride Parade: Caribbean Equality Project

Queens is a borough of New York City, coterminous with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. The borough of Queens is the second largest in population (after Brooklyn), with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48 percent of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City’s boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City’s boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation’s fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.

8:00 to 9:00pm
Literary Appetites: Women on Food
Malai Ice Cream, 268 Smith St.

Charlotte Druckman’s Women on Food is a “variety show of previously unpublished essays, interviews, and ephemera from women working in the world of food.” We bring the show to life with Charlotte and two of her contributors who will discuss their roles in the book, and chat about the literary aspect of food writing and the impact gender, race, and socioeconomics have had on that tradition and in shaping their own work. Moderated by Sabrina McMillin of Grey Horse, and featuring Charlotte, novelist and food writer Monique Truong, and author, journalist and culinary historian Dr. Jessica Harris. Presented by Grey Horse.

October 29, 2010 publication date

Literary Appetities

Women on Food unites the radical, diverging female voices of the food industry in this urgent, moving, and often humorous collection of essays, interviews, questionnaires, illustrations, quotes, and ephemera.

Edited by Charlotte Druckman and featuring esteemed food journalists and thinkers, including Soleil Ho, Nigella Lawson, Diana Henry, Carla Hall, Samin Nosrat, Rachael Ray, and many others, this compilation illuminates the notable and varied women who make up the food world. Exploring issues from the #MeToo movement, gender bias in division of labor and the workplace, and the underrepresentation of women of color in leadership, to cultural trends including food and travel shows, the intersection of fashion and food, and the evolution of food writing in the last few decades, Women on Food brings together food’s most vital female voices.

This post is courtesy of Pen America and Wikipedia.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its  mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, News and Other Information


Opportunity Knocks

THE BeZINE submissions for the May 2017 issues (theme: Honesty and Transparency, the Post-truth Era) should be in by May 10th latest.  Publication date is May 15th. Poetry, essays,fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration. Please check out a few issues first and the Intro./Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. Email submissions to

GUERNICA, a magazine of global arts and politics welcomes submissions from writers and visual artists, emerging and established, including submissions of short-and-long form fiction, poetry, photography and video.  Details HERE.

HANGING LOOSE PRESS has published some 220 books and 107 issues of its magazine (“10,000 pages of poetry, prose, and art”) since the press was founded in 1966. Details including special submission guidelines for high school students HERE.

TEARS IN THE FENCE, an independent international literary magazine is a triannual British literary journal edited by David Caddy. It is often characterized as “a forward-looking magazine that is not afraid to take risks…. [and that] represents the cutting edge of modern poetry.” Submissions for Tears in the Fence Issue 66 are now being accepted for publication in summer 2017. The editors invite submissions of poetry, prose poems, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, essays, translations, interviews and reviews and seek the unusual, perceptive, risk-taking as well as the imagistic, lived and visionary. Details HERE.

THE NEW VERSE NEWS presents politically progressive poetry on current events and topical issues. “Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use “Verse News Submission” as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.” As always before submission, I suggest you review The New Verse News before submitting.

NIMROD, International Journal of Prose and Poetry is a publication of the University of Tulsa and welcomes submissions of “high-quality” poetry, short fiction and creative nonfiction. Submission guidelines HERE.

PROLE PAMPHLET COMPETITION is look for collections of no more than 35 pages of poetry. The entry fee is £12 payable by PayPal or cheque. The winner will receive £50 and 15 copies of the pamphlet. Details HERE.


Opportunities Knock

TEARS IN THE FENCE, an independent international literary magazine announced the opening of its second flash fiction competition. Submissions welcome through 27th May 2017. First Prize of £200, Second Prize of £150 and Third Prize of £100. “The winners and other highly commended entries will be published in issue 66.”  Submission fees are: £5 for a single submission, £7.50 for two and £10 for three. Details HERE.

THE NIMROD 39TH LITERARY AWARDS (1) The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and (2) The Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry are still open but you have to hop to it. The deadline is April 30.  The prizes are $2,000 and publication for fiction and $1,000 and publication for poetry. The entry fee is $20. Details HERE.

ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZE for Fiction with IMPACT is open for submissions through December 31, 2017. a $35,000 annual award for an influential work of fiction that illuminates a vital contemporary issue and demonstrates the transformative power of literature on thought and culture.  The submission guidelines are quite detailed.


  • P.C. VANDALL for the publication of Romeo, Romeo, WTF? in the spring issue of The Mayaard
  • SHARON GARIEPY FRYE for being selected as the new writer in residence at the Writers Colony in Eureka Spings. Sharon’s most recent collection, Blue Lamentation, was just published and is available for purchase HERE. Sharon was featured on this site as American She-Poet #12. You can read her interview and sample her poems HERE.
  • REUBEN WOOLLEY for being invited to and attending the Marrakech 4th International Poetry Festival. You can sample Reuben’s collections and sample his poetry HERE.


ASPEN SUMMER WORDS LITERARY FESTIVAL & WRITING RETREAT is “a program of the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts, presents the Aspen Summer Words Writing Retreat and Literary Festival, a five-day celebration of words and ideas, now in its 34th year. This year’s festival flies under the banner “Crossroads: A Literary Intersection of the American South” … Details HERE.


  • The ASSOCIATION OF LITERARY SCHOLARS, CRITICS AND WRITERS (ALSCW) announced today that the co-winners of the 2016 Meringoff Prize for Poetry: Gregory Fraser for Nothing But a Few Bare Trees and Matthew Buckley Smith for Object Permanence. The winning poems will be published in an upcoming issue of either Literary Matters or Literary Imagination. The winners will each also receive $1,000 and a commemorative plaque.
  • Robert M. Pirsig, Author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintance died yesterday at 88 years. You can read his New York Times obit HERE.
  • USING HAIKU, more than 200 poets pay tribute to Obama, DeNeen L. Brown, The Washington Post


The recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.

THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers


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