PEN World Voices Festival 2018: Resist and Reimagine

Press Release
14
Feb

PEN World Voices Festival 2018: Resist and Reimagine (Press Release)

With 60+ Events Across New York City, the United States’ Leading International Literary Festival, Curated by Chip Rolley, Turns Its Global Lens on Its Home Country

PEN America Announces 2018 Festival Highlights Today, with Participants Including Francisco Cantú, Ron Chernow, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Jelani Cobb, Dave Eggers, Roxane Gay, Xiaolu Guo, Masha Gessen, Chris Hayes, Siri Hustvedt, Jhumpa Lahiri, Hasan Minhaj, Eileen Myles, R.J. Palacio, Salman Rushdie, Leila Sales, Anita Sarkeesian, Leila Slimani, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Colson Whitehead 

NEW YORK—PEN America presents the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival: Resist and Reimagine, this year’s incarnation of the renowned international literary festival, which will bring together the world’s foremost authors and other luminaries at a time when many are turning to literature and the arts not for escapism, but as a guide to navigate contemporary crises. Salman Rushdie founded the festival in the isolationist aftermath of September 11, 2001, to fortify links with the rest of the world; now again the need to connect and draw inspiration from beyond America’s borders is pressing. PEN America Festival Director Chip Rolley explains, “For the first time in its history, we are deliberately training the Festival’s wide lens on America itself, probing the fissures and inconsistencies in our own culture, alongside those of writers visiting from overseas. We will examine different kinds of resistance—the internal and the external, the political and the personal—and tap into the imagination that is at the core of the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, joining together in a week that reaffirms our faith in the power of the word to transform our society, our politics, and our daily lives.”

The Festival will unfold across 60+ events in dozens of venues in four of the five New York City boroughs, April 16-22. It kicks off on April 16 with Resist and Reimagine: Opening Night in Three Acts. Colson Whitehead will speak about applying one’s imagination to elucidate historical truths, as the novelist did for his “carefully built and stunningly daring” (The New York Times), Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Underground Railroad. Novelist Leila Slimani—a Muslim immigrant from Morocco to France whose novel The Perfect Nanny won France’s prestigious Prix Goncourt—will speak with New Yorker staff writer Adam Gopnik about how worlds can be reimagined by bending the lenses of ethnicity and geography. Australian performance poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke will read from “A Letter from Manus Island: A Refugee Resistance Manifesto,” by Behrouz Boochani, the Iranian Kurdish poet and journalist who has been held for over four years in Australia’s detention center on Manus Island while awaiting asylum. Boochani writes here about how “the refugees were able to reimagine themselves in the face of the detention regime.”

In a separate opening night event, Dave Eggers will talk with Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the Yemeni-American historian, community organizer, and coffee innovator whose aim to revitalize Yemen’s coffee industry through worker empowerment is the subject of Eggers’ latest book, The Monk of Mokha.

The resistance embodied in the disclosures of the #MeToo movement has inspired a number of events in this year’s festival, which extend the examination of gender and power begun in the 2017 festival. On April 20, critically acclaimed, best-selling author Roxane Gay will speak with #AMtoDM co-host and BuzzFeed Books founding editor Isaac Fitzgerald on the intersecting subjects her writing famously tackles. Zeroing in on the ongoing fight for female autonomy, Handmaid in America (April 21) will bring together a group of women writers, including Siri Hustvedt and Leni Zumas, who will discuss literature and its responses to encroachments on women’s reproductive rights. On April 17, Us Too, a powerful program of poetry, readings and conversation about violence against women will include Tishani Doshi, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Dunya Mikhail, and Mona Eltahawy. These open conversations on the traumas the female body endures strive to liberate women during this movement of reckoning.

With The M Word: Hasan Minhaj and Wajahat Ali (April 22), comedian and Daily Show senior correspondent Minhaj and writer/lawyer Ali will speak about the varieties of Muslim American experiences, the pressures of being public ambassadors for a vastly multifaceted group that America just as vastly generalizes, and how comedy and creativity have changed under Trump. The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women (April 18) will see Sudanese-Australian author/mechanical engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied and MuslimGirl founder Amani Al Khatahtbeh—both of whom left their home countries, Australia and America, respectively, due to harassment and vilification—discussing the complexities of being Muslim and female in Western countries. Abdel-Magied will also speak with Sick author Porochista Khakpour, and Anita Sarkeesian, the feminist media critic who endured a barrage of #GamerGate harassment and death threats in Take Back the Net: Fighting Online Hate (April 21). Looking into the real-world impact of virtual bullying, those who have refused to be silenced will discuss productive means for resisting and reimagining the Internet as a free and fearless space.

Similarly addressing authorship and cultural alienation, Cry, the Beloved Country (April 19) will unite Ryszard Krynicki, Serhiy Zhadan, Marcos Aguinis, Domenico Starnone, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Hwang Sok-yong, Basma Abdel Aziz, and Negar Djavadi to articulate the particular rage of oppressed populations in their home countries. Meditations on Exile (April 20) will feature Chinese novelist Xiaolu Guo, Iraqi-Assyrian poet Dunya Mikhail, and Iranian screenwriter/novelist Hossein M. Abkenar. They will discuss their experiences of having fled their home countries to avoid censorship and the potentially severe repercussions of their self-expression, and how these experiences have shaped the way they write about place. The Trick of Translation (April 21), will speak to a more formal means of border transcendence—the attempt to capture the spirit of a work in another language. Jhumpa Lahiri will talk with Domenico Starnone about Starnone’s novels Trick and Ties, translated from Italian to English by Lahiri.

The chronicled lessons from the past can act as living guides, particularly as threats to key rights swell. Taking a moment to look back to America’s most fearless activists and writers, Jelani Cobb, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Gregory Pardlo mark the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Where Do We Go from Here? (April 20), which asks, with hope at its core, the titular question of Dr. King’s last book. Looking further back in history, biographer Ron Chernow talks to MSNBC host and author Chris Hayes about Ulysses S. Grant, one of our most underappreciated presidents, who worked for justice and the political enfranchisement for African Americans. Exploring what should be inalienable rights, Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman and historian Carol Anderson will delve into racialized voter suppression in Killing Democracy (April 19). One of the festival’s central aims is to defend and provide a platform for open discourse; Masha Gessen, Patrisse Cullors, and PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel will shed light on first amendment tensions in America today in Resistance Report Card: Grading the Groundswell (April 21).

In Legacy of an LGBTQ Countercultural Icon (April 21), translators Bonnie Huie and Ari Larissa Heinrich and poet Eileen Myles will examine the work of the late Qiu Miaojin, whose cinematically experimental novels dauntlessly depict lesbian life in Taiwan long before any form of queerness was socially accepted. While she was writing up through the 90s, to this day, globally queer communities remain vulnerable.

As so much of what literature explores politically and personally is inherently connected to place, several events will probe location’s distinct impact on personhood. The city of New York has functioned as an iconic and figurative setting across myriad art forms: in New York Stories (April 21), Salman Rushdie, Sergio De La Pava, and others will talk about encapsulating the city in fiction. With a more panoramic gaze, in America, Real and Imagined (April 22), authors from different corners of the country will discuss their shared interest in the American landscape’s profound ability to shape identity. Francisco Cantú—a former-border-patrol-agent-turned-author—will join acclaimed Sunshine State author Sarah Gerard and poet/author Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation whose memoir Crazy Brave won the 2013 PEN Center USA prize for creative nonfiction. Cantú, who wrote the “sharply political and deeply personal” (New York Magazine) The Line Becomes a River, will also look into a particularly fraught section of the American landscape, the Mexican-United States border in Borders of Our Imagination, where he will speak with novelist and essayist Valeria Luiselli and playwright and DREAMer Amalia Rojas (April 20).

Today’s young people are just as likely as adults to be curious about the often puzzling, sometimes troubling, world around them, and there is a growing body of books and other publications that cater to this curiosity. For the first time in its history, the festival will feature a day of storytelling, interactive events, comics and freestyle poetry workshops for children, tweens, and young adults as part of its new Next Generation Now series curated by Meg Lemke of MUTHA Magazine. Little Activists: A Workshop and Mini-March (April 21) will encourage children to express their own ideas of democracy, equality, and freedom, and learn how to translate their thoughts into political engagement. Leila Sales, who will lead he workshop, created The Little Book of Little Activists after being inspired by children in the Women’s March. R.J. Palacio, author of the best-settling novel Wonder (recently adapted as a live-action film with Jacob Tremble in the leading role) will speak on the importance of acceptance, and the pivotal lessons that literature can teach us from a young age. Tony Medina, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Toni Blackman are also among the featured Next Generation Now authors.

PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel says, “While the present political moment in the United State feels unprecedented and unparalleled, when we turn toward the rest of the world the tide of revanchism we are enduring is neither new nor confined to our own borders. International writers and thinkers offer a well of lessons and insights on how to thwart and protest, to sustain and nurture resistance, to shore up threatened values, and to look beyond the present impasse. PEN America has always worked as a bridge across cultures and geographies, forging relationships and solidarity that are a counterweight against hatreds and polarization. In the digital age, with so much of our discourse reduced to tweets and sound bites, face-to-face conversation across cultures about how to realize a different collective future is essential. If frayed relationships between the world’s governments are ever to be repaired, it will be because we nurtured relationships, empathy, and understanding among peoples—that’s what the PEN World Voices Festival does.”

Peter Barbey, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Village Voice, which co-sponsors the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival, says, “This year’s theme, Resist and Reimagine, couldn’t be more timely or topical.  It resonates here at The Village Voice since those very same principles have been reflected in our mission since our inception in 1955, at the beginning of an American cultural revolution. As Official Media Sponsor of the Pen World Voices Festival, we call on all New Yorkers to join the conversation.”

What follow are brief descriptions of a selection of 2018 festival events. PEN America will announce full programming in March.

PEN World Voices Festival 2018: Resist and Reimagine — Programming Highlights

Resist and Reimagine: Opening Night in Three Acts
Monday, April 16
7pm8:45pm
The Great Hall | The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $35, available here

ACT I: A Global Refugee Crisis

An unprecedented 65.5 million people are currently displaced around the globe—fleeing war, persecution, climate change, and famine. They are not always welcomed where they seek refuge or asylum. One such person is Behrouz Boochani, a poet and journalist from Iran. He has been detained by the Australian government for more than four years now on the remote Manus Island, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. His crime? To arrive by boat seeking asylum in Australia. Late last year, after a confrontation when authorities tried forcibly to remove Boochani and several hundred other refugees to another camp, he wrote “A Letter from Manus Island: A Refugee Resistance Manifesto,” describing the conditions of their incarceration, the attempted forced removal, and what it was that kept the refugees’ spirits from descending into despair. He writes, “Our resistance was an epic of love…I write from Manus Island as a duty to history.” Australian performance poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke will read from this work.

Act II: The Underground Railroad: Yesterday and Today

In one of the most celebrated and powerful books of the past year, Colson Whitehead reimagined the metaphorical Underground Railroad—one of America’s most potent and enduring examples of resistance. He talks about the creative imagination required to find the historical truth, and how the legacy of slavery reverberates throughout our history—from Jim Crow laws to the resurgence of white supremacy.

ACT III: Reimagining Our Worlds Through Immigration and Literature

It’s every parent’s unspoken nightmare, that harm might come to their children at the hands of a trusted carer. The Perfect Nanny, Leila Slimani’s brilliantly unsettling novel about the nanny who murdered the two young children in her charge, ignited passionate debate in France. The book is a subversive examination of motherhood, race, social inequality, and murder that is likely to spur similar discussion in the U.S. The author, a 36-year-old writer, journalist, and Muslim immigrant to France, was the first Moroccan-born woman to win the Prix Goncourt, and was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron as his ambassador for Francophone Affairs, charged with promoting French language and culture around the world. Slimani talks to Adam Gopnik about her work—and a life that was remade through immigration and literature.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali: Good to the Last Drop
Monday, April 16
6pm
Jerome L Greene Performance Space at WNYC
44 Charlton St, New York, NY 10014
Tickets: $15, available here

Can there really be a link between the specialty and varietal coffee that seduces us in our local roastery and fair pay for the farmer who cultivates the beans? Dave Eggers talks to Mokhtar Alkhanshali, who had a dream to revive and reimagine the coffee industry in his family’s native country, Yemen. Coffee drinking began there 500 years ago, but it was no longer producing a quality cup. Mokhtar’s seat-of-the-pants escape from that country, engulfed by civil war, is only the beginning of the story he tells Dave Eggers in this conversation about immigration, human rights, and the power of persistence.

 

Us Too
Tuesday, April 17
7pm-8:30pm
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door, available here

The systemic sexual assault of women revealed by the #MeToo disclosures in the United States exists in every culture and every country and is equally deserving of a spotlight. In this event, Tishani Doshi from India, Maxine Beneba Clarke from Australia and Dunya Mikhail, originally from Iraq, present a powerful program of poetry, readings and conversation, lamentations and celebrations, giving voice to those who once were not heard. Mona Eltahawy moderates.

Co-presented with the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

 

The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women
Wednesday, April 18
7pm-8:15pm
Jamaica Performing Arts Center
15310 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, NY 11432
Tickets: $15, available here

In many western countries, being Muslim, young, and female brings with it a particularly heavy burden. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was forced to leave America in the wake of relentless vilification and harassment post-9/11, and just last year Yassmin Abdel-Magied was hounded out of Australia by ferocious media and online attacks. They talk about how to survive in cultures that hate them.

Cry, the Beloved Country
Thursday, April 19
7pm–8:30pm
Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002
Tickets: $15, available here

In recent decades, many countries have succumbed to autocracy or outright tyranny, but in every instance the voices of the people have risen to protest and resist. Those voices are often, powerfully, those of writers whose special gifts articulate the pain and rage of oppressed populations. Writers from eight countries that have suffered, or still suffer, from tyranny and oppression speak to the pain of what happened in their homelands. Join us for an evening of solidarity. Participating authors include Ryszard Krynicki (Poland), Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine), Marcos Aguinis (Argentina), Domenico Starnone (Italy), Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya), Hwang Sok Yong (Korea), Basma Abdel Aziz (Egypt), and Negar Djavadi (Iran/France).

Killing Democracy
Thursday, April 19
8:30–9:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Tickets: $15, available here

There is more than one way to win an election. One is to get more people to vote for you. The other is to stop your opponent’s supporters from voting at all. Fifty years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and five years after the Supreme Court struck down the heart of it, voter suppression has emerged again as a possibly determinative factor in our elections. Mother Jones reporter Ari Berman and historian Carol Anderson map the evidence of systematic and growing efforts to thwart the vote, and unearth the anti-democratic and racist ideologies behind it.

 

An Evening with Roxane Gay
Friday, April 20
7pm-8:30pm
Great Hall | The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $40, available here

One of today’s most influential voices writing about gender, sexuality, race, and the issues confronting women as they navigate a difficult and often hostile world, Roxane Gay is that rare writer of fiction, essays, and journalism (and some of the sharpest and most insightful tweets around) who has become a cultural icon. In this keynote event of the festival, Gay engages with today’s big subjects, including #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, body size, and feminism. These topics are, in her writing, marked by a piercing intellect and engaging empathy, as well as often heartbreaking personal disclosures, earning her the devoted following of women and men across generations. Gay talks to Isaac Fitzgerald, the co-host of BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show, #AMtoDM.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Where Do We Go from Here?
Friday, April 20
7pm-8:30pm
Brooklyn Museum Auditorium
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Tickets: $20, available here

Fifty years ago this month, Martin Luther King, Jr. was slain. Thus, America lost its moral lodestar. The country was in crisis, beset by racial conflict provoked by the simple demand that a nation live up to its ideals. In his final book, Dr. King examined the direction of the civil rights movement, and the need for social and economic justice and an end to the Vietnam War. America was at a crossroads. Today, America is at a similar crossroads, with mounting internal divisions, growing economic and educational inequality, an epidemic of black deaths at the hands of police, unprecedented incarceration rates that disproportionately affect people of color, and a resurgence in white supremacy. In this event, Jelani Cobb, Gregory Pardlo and Nikole Hannah-Jones ask the same question of our country today that Dr. King asked then: “Where do we go from here?”

Co-presented with The Brooklyn Museum

Meditations on Exile
Friday, April 20
6pm–7pm
La Maison Française of NYU
16 Washington Mews, New York, NY 10003
Free with RSVP

Being forced to leave one’s country involves profound physical dislocation as well as the emotional upheaval of being separated from family, friends, and the very roots of our existence. Often accompanying this change is the need to adjust to a new place, the strangeness and the stresses of crossing into a different world. Each panelist has experienced this. They talk about why they needed to upend their former lives and how they have adapted to their new ones. With Xiaolu GuoDunya Mikhail and Hossein M Abkenar.

Borders of Our Imagination
Friday, April 20
7pm-8:30pm
Instituto Cervantes New York
211 East 49th Street, New York, NY 10017
Free with RSVP

Immigration is one of the most polarizing issues in America today, but regardless of your point of view, there is no doubt the southern US border—“the river,” “the wall,” and the “borderlands”—has a grip on our collective imagination. The way we imagine the border is often informed by mythology; the way we speak of it, by visions of deprivation, violence, and even terror. Why do our psyches continually return to the border to understand our how we integrate immigrants into our nation? In what ways can writers capture the complexity and drama of this unique landscape while demystifying the rhetoric that impedes our understanding?

Francisco Cantú worked as a border-patrol agent for four years in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico and, as a Spanish-speaking descendant of Mexican immigrants, he brought empathy and understanding to the job of intercepting those crossing the border. Novelist and essayist Valeria Luiselli has worked as an interpreter for child migrants crossing from Mexico, helping them present a case to avoid deportation. And Amalia Rojas is a Mexican playwright and DREAMer who arrived in the US when she was two months old. All three writers bring intimate knowledge as well as political understanding to the complexity and mystery of how the Mexican border issues have come to encapsulate a general hostility to immigrants in today’s America.

Co-presented with the Instituto Cervantes New York

Take Back the Net: Fighting Online Hate
Saturday, April 21
12pm–1:30pm
Rose Auditorium | The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10008
Tickets: $15, available here

Today, the internet and social media are part and parcel of a career in journalism and the arts, helping writers and creators to forge important connections, promote their work, and cultivate audiences. So what’s a person to do when besieged by online hate and harassment that can compromise their reputation, their work, and even their sense of personal safety? In this discussion, hear from the heroes who refuse to be silenced online as they discuss the best tools for countering hate and making the internet a more inclusive place for all. With Anita Sarkeesian, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, and Porochista Khakpour.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

NEXT GENERATION NOW
Little Activists: A Workshop and a Mini-March
The Littles: Early Childhood, pre-k to 2nd/3rd graders
Saturday, April 21
3:30pm-4:30pm
Townstages, Back Room
221 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Free with RSVP

You’re never too young to care about your community or to stand up for your beliefs. The creator of The Little Book of Little Activists—a photo-illustrated celebration of real kids exercising their first amendment rights in modern-day America—leads kid-friendly activities that engage and inspire. What does democracy, equality, and freedom mean to you? Kids are invited to make posters that express their ideals, to write and design postcards to send to elected officials. They can meet and be inspired by children who are featured in the book, and even join a kid-led practice march. With Leila Sales & families featured in Little Book of Little Activists.

Space​ ​for​ ​this​ ​event​ ​was​ ​sponsored​ ​in​ ​part​ ​by​ ​Sokoloff​ ​Arts

Resistance Report Card: Grading the Groundswell
Saturday, April 21
12pm–1:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Tickets: $15, available here

Writers, activists, and organizational leaders appraise the efforts to resist the Trump Administration’s encroachments on free expression, open discourse, and individual rights. What have been the successes and failures in the courts, in the states and on the streets?  How can we more effectively defend these principles going forward? With Masha Gessen and Patrisse Cullors. Moderated by Suzanne Nossel.

Handmaid in America
Saturday, April 21
2:30pm–4pm
Rose Auditorium | The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10008
Tickets: $15, available here

45 years after the constitutional right to abortion was won in the U.S., attempts to subvert women’s reproductive rights have never been been more zealous or determined. How should we respond to the efforts by state and federal legislators to bring in laws and regulations that envision women as mere breeders? The panel considers what roles literature, including fiction and poetry, philosophy and science, might have in helping us understand, and resist, such enduring misogyny. With Siri Hustvedt and Leni Zumas.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

The Trick of Translation
Saturday, April 21
5pm–6:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10012
Tickets: $25, available here

“To translate is to walk down numerous scary corridors, to grope in the dark,” writes Jhumpa Lahiri in her introduction to her latest translation of Domenico Starnone, his layered and playfully inventive novel, Trick. Lahiri, one of America’s finest writers, exiled herself to the language of Italian and cut her translator’s teeth on Starnone’s linguistically and stylistically challenging novels. They discuss the work that has made him one of Italy’s finest writers and the rewards that come with literature’s journey to a new language. Michael Reynolds moderates.

 

NEXT GENERATION NOW
The Wonder of R.J. Palacio
All ages
Saturday, April 21
7pm–8pm
The Great Hall | The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $35, available here

R.J. Palacio of the bestselling Wonder, a series of books and now a major-motion picture, talks about how embracing our differences and celebrating others is the path towards a brighter future. Interviewed by Stephanie Anderson, Assistant Director for Public Services at Darien Library and librarian @bookavore.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Legacy of an LGBTQ Countercultural Icon
Saturday, April 21
7:30pm–8:30pm
Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street, New York, NY 10002
Tickets: $15, available here

As courts pave the way for the introduction of same sex marriage rights in Taiwan, the novels of Qiu Miaojin, who killed herself at age 26, open a door to a time of great change in Taiwanese culture, from the social and political vilification of LGBTQ people there to the underground explosion of gender and LGBTQ diversity. Bonnie Huie, translator of Qiu’s Notes of a Crocodile, and Ari Larissa Heinrich, translator of her Last Words from Montmartre, talk to poet and novelist Eileen Myles about an artist who has become a countercultural icon and whose work has had a lasting impact on literature and LGBTQ identity in Taiwan.

Co-presented with the Ministry of Culture (Taiwan) and Taipei Cultural Center in New York.

New York Stories
Saturday, April 21
7:30pm–8:30pm
Rose Auditorium | The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10008
Tickets: $30, available here

The city of New York has given rise to the creation of an endless number of memorable fictional characters, recent additions being Nero Golden, Gary Gwynplaine, Nina Gill, Nuno DeAngeles and others who inhabit the expansive, and exuberant, recent novels of Salman Rushdie and Sergio De La Pava. Their creators talk about the joys and perils of writing stories about the wondrous city of New York.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Ron Chernow
Sunday, April 22
2:30–4:00pm
Rose Auditorium | The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10008
Tickets: $30, available here

Ron Chernow’s celebrated series of major American political biographies has followed Hamilton with Grant, a magisterial examination of the political, military, business and literary lives of one of America’s most underappreciated presidents. He talks to Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s All in with Chris Hayes and author of A Colony in a Nation, about the man, who was not only a brilliant military strategist, but a far more important president than had been previously recognized, seeking freedom and justice for black Americans and working to crush the Ku Klux Klan

America, Real and Imagined
Sunday, April 22
3pm–4pm
Fisher Hillman Studio, BAM
321 Ashland Pl, Brooklyn, NY, 11217
Tickets: $15, available here

What does it mean to be American? How does where we live and where we grow up determine our vision of America? In this conversation as part of PEN World Voices, writers discuss the diverse landscape of identity in this country: how family and geography influence our notion of what it means to be American and our visions of and for the nation. Acclaimed poet and musician Joy Harjo and writers Francisco Cantú and Sarah Gerard convene for a unique forum on the America of our imagination, how it matches up with reality, and how our conception of certain regions of America is in dialogue with our understanding of the country as a whole.

Co-presented with BAM

The M Word: Hasan Minhaj and Wajahat Ali
Sunday, April 22
4pm–5:15 pm
The Great Hall | The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street New York, NY 10003
Tickets: $45, available here

How does it feel to be seen as an almost official ambassador of Islam, when you’re actually the senior correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show? Actor and comedian Hasan Minhaj wowed audiences at last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, lambasting the new, and for that night absent, president. He talks to author and contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, Wajahat Ali, about the importance of creative independence and resistance in the age of Trump, and what hope there is for comedy when truth and facts are under attack.

Hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Funding Credits

Lead sponsorship support is provided by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Media sponsorship is also provided by WNYC.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional funding is provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Amazon Crossing, Amazon Literary Partnership, New York Community Trust, and the Embrey Family Foundation.

About PEN America

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

About The Village Voice

The Village Voice was founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer, the latter of whom later said in an interview that in helping to create the Voice he wanted to make a “revolutionary” paper that would explore “the Village in all its fire.”

Over the next six decades, the Voice would go on to produce some of the country’s most profound, poignant, and provocative journalism, earning three Pulitzer Prizes, a National Press Foundation Award, the George Polk Award and the Editor & Publisher EPPY Award for Best Overall U.S. Weekly Newspaper Online.

For more information, please contact Blake Zidell or Rachael Shearer at Blake Zidell & Associates, 718.643.9052, blake@blakezidell.com or rachael@blakezidell.com.