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Utah writers and emerging writers will offer a reading to mark the birthday of Martin Luther King on Sunday as part of an international Writers Resist movement.
"All across America and the world, writers are going to be reading and talking to raise money for organizations that support" American values, says Paisley Rekdal, a poet and English professor at the University of Utah. "Hundreds upon hundreds of people are doing this. It's taking place in almost every city in America, practically. It's really quite astonishing."
Rekdal is helping to organize the Salt Lake City reading, one of more than 75 planned in conjunction with PEN America, based on a call for action after the U.S. presidential election from her friend and colleague, Florida State University poet Erin Belieu.
"We will not give in to despair. We will come together and actively help make the world we want to live in. We are bowed, but we are not broken," Belieu posted on Facebook, which led to an informal network of writers planning events. (The effort's hashtag is #writeourdemocracy; more information at http://www.writersresist.org.)
The local event lineup includes prominent poets such as Katharine Coles (former Utah poet laureate), Kimberly Johnson and Lisa Bickmore; historian Will Bagley; journalist Scott Carrier; and a variety of other writers, student writers and slam poets. Donations received at the reading at Main Street's Mandate Press (see box for details) will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Writers are invited to read from historic works or their own prose. Even the location, at a local press, is a reminder of the country's commitment "to freedom of press, freedom of information and freedom of creativity. This is about speaking to America's history," Rekdal says. It's an effort for writers across the country to be "part of a continuation, a lineage, of what it means to be Americans."
Utah Writers Resist
Established and emerging writers will offer a reading as part of an international effort to support civil rights. Salt Lake City readers include Will Bagley, Lisa Bickmore, Scott Carrier, Katharine Coles, Nic Contreras, Craig Dworkin, Kimberly Johnson, Michael McLane, Chad Nielsen, Lance Olsen, Jose Soto, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Danielle Susi, Jennifer Tonge and RJ Walker.
When • Sunday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m.
Where • The Mandate Press, 1077 Main St., Salt Lake City
Donation • Suggested donation $5-$15; proceeds donated to the American Civil Liberties Union; books and broadsides will also be available for purchase
Background • Writers Resist is a national literary collective, born after the U.S. elections, dedicated to "challenging all things that diminish our nation's quest for equality, freedom, justice and a healthy planet for all," according to writersresist.org.