Some constituencies, like coal miners and millionaires, are excited by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency. Others, including writers, not so much.
And because they’re so concerned, legions of literary of types are getting together Jan. 15 — five days before Trump takes the oath of office — to read historic and contemporary writings on the ideals of democracy and free speech. Dubbed “Writers Resist,” the gatherings in Boston, New York, and across the US will feature former US Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky and Rita Dove, Cheryl Strayed, part-time Provincetown resident Michael Cunningham, Jacqueline Woodson, Luis Alberto Urrea, Jason Reynolds, Alexander Chee, Colum McCann, Francine Prose, and Mary Karr, among others.
Pinsky, a professor at BU, will be at the event in Manhattan — rain, shine or, more likely, freezing cold, it’s taking place on the steps of the New York Public Library — where he plans to read a new poem of his own and a sonnet, “First fight. Then fiddle,” written by Gwendolyn Brooks.
“There’s going to be a lot of getting to work after Trump takes office,” Pinsky told us. “There’s a lot of cultural power in music, film, and theater in the states that voted overwhelmingly against him. So here we go.”
In Boston, the literary protest will take place in Rabb Hall at the Boston Public Library and include writers, artists, activists, and civic leaders.
“New England was home to Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, William LLoyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Howard Zinn,” said Karen Wulf, director of PEN New England, one of the event’s sponsors. “We have a legacy of American ideas and values to respect and preserve, and that’s worth fighting for.”
Poet Erin Belieu, who used to teach at BU, founded the Writers Resist movement. She said she was disturbed by the “disdain for truthfulness” displayed during the presidential election and wanted to do something.
“Writers are acutely aware when the uses of language are empty,” she said. “Whether you live in a red or blue state, or another country that cares deeply about the American experiment, there’s no more important battle than our right to truth.”