New “Writers Resist” Movement to Highlight Social Justice Issues Across the Country

November 30, 2016


A new movement has grown in the days following the recent election. Writers Resist, the idea of poet and cofounder of VIDA Erin Belieu, aims to create events in support of democracy across the country and internationally on January 15, 2017. Belieu, along with several other organizers, are planning with local groups to hold events using the framework “Writers Resist:___.” This will allow the local group to focus the event on a specific theme pertinent to the social justice issue(s) they would like to highlight.

The organization’s event guidelines read, “Writers Resist is not affiliated with a political party. We wish to bypass direct political discourse in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of Democracy. In order for us to heal and move forward, individually and as a nation, we believe people need something to be for in this anxious moment. The only thing we ‘resist’ is that which attacks or seeks to undermine those most basic principles of freedom and justice for all.”

PEN America is creating an event in New York centered around free speech—“Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression.” PEN America wants it to be “a major literary protest and show of strength that will take place just before the January Presidential inauguration to signal that all eyes, ears and pens are trained on Washington.”

Events are in the works for many other cities: Austin; Seattle; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; Columbia, Missouri; Boston; Oakland; New Orleans; Chicago; Houston; Madison, Wisconsin; and Tallahassee, Florida. The Tallahassee group, which Belieu, who is a professor at Florida State University, is spearheading, has partnered with 100 Thousand Poets for Change and the nontraditional dramatic arts space founded by Terry Galloway, the Mickee Faust Club.

For those interested in starting their own events, the website also contains fundraising guidelines to help event planners working to collect donations on behalf of charities they wish to support.

AWP spoke with Erin Belieu by phone and asked what she would like to see as the outcome for the events. In the short term, she hopes they will bring “people together to feel less horrified, less enervated” and “to put some skin in the game for what we care about.”

“Beyond that,” she said, “I’m hoping it becomes a network of activists to stay ‘woke,’ as the kids say.”

AWP noted that plans seemed to have moved very fast and spread very far, and Belieu said that “at the moment some wonderful people are putting together a website [linked above] for people to look for local events or to allow them to make an event. We don’t want this just to be in blue urban cities.” The hope is that writers in smaller communities “can gather people together to feel less isolated.”

“This re-inauguration of compassion and tolerance and ideas of democracy and issues of social justice. We need to have the chance to re-commit to that,” she continued.

We asked what one thing in particular would be useful for AWP members to know about the events. “Coming out but also bringing others with them … it would be very powerful if we could flood social media and get traditional media involved—whatever they can do to amplify this message nationally and internationally.”


Image Credit: Writers Resist

Next Story:
Book Sales Down in Post-Election Weeks
December 1, 2016

No Comments