In 1982, a year during which the Island Trees School District v. Pico case opened fervent debates around the First Amendment within American public schools, PEN America organized an evening of readings of forbidden books that brought together iconic contemporary American writers and performers—including Toni Morrison, Donald Barthelme, and Margaret Hamilton—to celebrate the vitality of works that had been censored. As the U.S. now experiences a wave of educational gag orders, the country has seen an onslaught of book bans: with over 1300 counted by PEN America in half a year. In response to this disturbing trend, PEN America revives this event, gathering a star-studded celebration of the freedom to write, read, and think featuring dramatic readings from some of the most “dangerous” texts ever printed. These stories and poems have been ripped from the hands of young readers and deemed harmful, often for their revelation of important truths, underrepresented perspectives, and expansion of imaginations and worldviews.
The evening will highlight recent banned books, and other vital, once verboten, works by writers including Toni Morrison, Art Spiegelman, Kurt Vonnegut, and more. Wajahat Ali, New York Times contributing op-ed writer, public speaker and author of the recently published book Go Back to Where You Came From will host. Presented in collaboration with the PEN America’s Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee and Free Expression and Education Program. ASL interpretation provided by Pro Bono ASL.
Presented with support form Featherston Booktown, Verb Wellington, and ReadNZ.
After Party at Alphabet Bar & Cafe at the Moxy East Village, 112 E 11th Stat the Moxy East Village at 9:30 p.m.
Please note: as of May 10, the elevator of this historic venue is non-functioning. The event space is located upstairs. Contact us at [email protected] with questions. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.