Pride Month Reads!

Pride Parade

Boston Pride 2017

Happy Pride Month everyone! I attended Boston Pride for the first time this past weekend and it was an environment full of happy, dancing people who felt comfortable being themselves. So, in honor of Pride Month, I decided to put together a few books that have excellent LGBTQ+ representation. They are all YA novels that serve as an introduction for cisgender/straight readers, provide representation for LGBTQ+ teens, and can be enjoyed by all ages. Representation is so important, especially for traditionally marginalized communities to be able to see themselves in characters. Without further ado, here are some great Pride reads!

You Know Me Well by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

You Know Me WellThis book takes place during Pride Week and follows two teens, Mark and Katie, who have never spoken before they end up in the same gay bar. They’re both young, gay, and afraid of love, which creates a fast bond between the two of them. The story is told in alternating points of view as Mark and Katie grow closer and adventure through the colorful world of Pride while trying to figure out what to do after high school graduation. Given that David Levithan and Nina LaCour are both members of the LGBTQ community, the vibrant scenes that take place during Pride feel authentic, all the way down to the bands that play. You Know Me Well is a quick read full of the joy, happiness, and acceptance.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante

Aristotle and Dante was one of the best books that I have read this year. When the book starts, Aristotle is struggling with his brother’s arrest and the fact that his parents won’t talk about it. Dante is an oddball kid who doesn’t look at the world quite the same way as everyone else. They meet at a pool over the summer and quickly become the best of friends and, maybe, just a little bit more. The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is “sweet.” Ari and Dante have the most genuine, adorable friendship and the feelings between them progress slowly and realistically. With a narration style similar to that of The Catcher in the Rye and characters that steal your heart, this book will quickly become one of your favorites!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal was the first YA book about transgender characters I ever read. Although the author herself is cisgender, she spent years working with transgender teens and clearly did her research in order to portray the characters and their experiences as well as she could. David is in the process of trying to figure out how to transition to a girl and how to come out to family and friends. Leo is the new kid at school with a few secrets of his own who is desperately trying to stay under the radar. The two of them have much more in common than they initially think. While The Art of Being Normal doesn’t address trans issues beyond the most basic beginning thoughts of transitioning, I still think this book is important. It is a great introduction for cis readers to the perspective of transgender characters and I think that young trans teens who are still trying to figure out their identity could find it helpful.

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You

Nina LaCour is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. It is rare to see books, especially in YA, where a character’s sexuality is just a part of who they are. Often, the plot centers solely around a character coming out or bullying/harassment in school, but that isn’t the case with Everything Leads to You. Emi is a talented young set designer trying to break her way into Hollywood. When she finds a mysterious letter from a recently deceased Old-Hollywood star, she meets Ava, who is unlike anyone Emi has ever encountered before. The world of Emi’s set designs and film-making is so vibrant in this book that readers can’t help but picture every piece of furniture Emi places in a room. She has a caring romance with Ava and I love that their feelings for each other took a backseat to solving the mystery surrounding Ava’s family. It was nice to read about two lesbian characters who were more than just their sexuality or their feelings for each other.

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl tells the story of Amanda, a trans woman who has been fully transitioned and on pills for several years. She’s recently moved to Tennessee to live with her dad and finish out high school while remaining as low profile as possible. Her plans become complicated when she acquires a group of friends and meets a boy named Grant who she wants to tell everything. This is also the first YA book written by a trans woman to be heavily promoted, which is amazing. The book is heartfelt and significantly more upbeat than one might expect from a story that could have easily felt dark. Meredith Russo also includes two separate notes to readers, one for cis-gendered readers and another for trans readers, each with their own message about the book and its contents. To see those notes in full and to read an awesome review of the book by a trans woman, have a look here.

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

I’m closing this list out with David Levithan again because it’s hard to go wrong with one of his books. His first book, Boy Meets Boy, was originally published in 2003 when it wasn’t anywhere near as normal to see a romance between two boys, even in Young Adult books. Since then, he’s continued to write beautiful stories about gay teens just trying to live their best life in a world that tries its best to knock them down. Two Boys Kissing was no exception to this. The book is narrated by the generation of gay men that died from AIDS telling the story of several gay couples and gay teenagers in the present. All of this is centered around Harry and Craig, two ex-boyfriends trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss. I have never read another book narrated like Two Boys Kissing and the contrast between the lives of the gay men killed by AIDS and the teenagers today was stunning and I teared up while reading a few times. It was equal parts adorable and sad in a way that only David Levithan can manage. This book is an excellent reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to go for equality.

Happy Pride Everyone! Keep being your beautiful selves, no matter who that may be!

-Megan, Intern

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Hey Everyone!

I’m Megan, one of the new interns for the summer. I’m so excited to be working with my fellow intern Audrey, Dr. Harte, and the rest of the Cambridge Editors team!

I’m a Junior at Emerson College majoring in Writing, Literature, & Publishing, and minoring in Sociology. Someday I’m hoping to write my own novels and to work as a Literary Agent. I have enough books in my room that I could be buried alive if a shelf were to ever collapse. I mostly read YA novels and have been a huge Harry Potter nerd since age 5. Some of my current favorites are We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour.

When I’m not walking around with my nose in a book I can be found binge watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Office on Netflix or trying to catch up on The Walking Dead (shhh no spoilers). I also just spent the past semester studying abroad and traveling Europe. I visited fourteen countries within the last four months, lived in a castle (yes you read that right!) in the Netherlands, and fell totally in love with it all. I 100% have the travel bug and will be planning more trips as soon as time and money allow!

My life has changed a lot in the past few months and in ways I never could have expected. In Europe I visited every art museum I could, seeing paintings made by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Degas, Picasso, and so many other painters whose work I had only ever seen in books. I ate handmade pasta in Italy, saw the Eiffel Tower, went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London, and fell in love with places I never thought I would get the chance to go like Prague and Budapest. And now I’m in Boston for the summer, living in an apartment with one of my best friends, figuring out how to be a full-time city-girl and an independent adult. I couldn’t be happier!

I’m so thrilled that I get to be a part of the CambrideEditors team and I’m looking forward to an exciting summer of learning even more about the editing world!

Me in Greece

Soaking up a Greek Sunset in Mykonos

Me in Rome

Here’s me in Rome!

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So, Tell Me about Yourself: A New Intern at Cambridge Editors

In early April, I had an interview for a sales associate position at Anthropologie, a bohemian-esque women’s clothing store, on Newbury Street. I was dressed in all my Anthropologie clothes that hopefully wouldn’t provoke any quick assumptions about my personality—a white, button-up blouse; my nicest pair of jeans; leather booties; and a small, gold necklace. I waited about fifteen minutes before sitting down with one of the store’s managers, which gave me plenty of time to start getting nervous. Once we finally did sit, I was bombarded by the only statement I should have been prepared to respond to: “So, tell me about yourself.”

“Like, career-wise?” I said. Stupid.

“Anything. Just tell me about you.”

And then I started down the usual path of conversation that I always seem to find myself wandering with friends, family, and store managers, beginning with this explanation: My name is Audrey. I’m twenty years old. I transferred to Emerson College in Boston from a liberal arts college in Upstate New York after my first year to peruse a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. Do I want to write a book? It’s definitely on my bucket list. I live about a twenty-minute walk away (from Newbury Street) and have a year of work experience at the third-busiest Starbucks in the city.  I’m looking for a part-time job so I can earn some money on top of a part-time, summer internship, and of course I’m looking to work in the fall during the school year, too (that’s what you have to tell everyone if you want the job).

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A photo my sister snapped of me reading The Boston Girl in the Public Garden.

Despite having repeated these details about myself to so many people so many times, I knew almost immediately that this was not what my patient interviewer wanted to hear. At the same time, I didn’t know what to tell her. I don’t consider myself an exciting person yet. I haven’t ever lived in Paris or Rome studying fashion or architecture. I don’t make jewelry or pottery inspired by a service trip to coastal Africa or South America. I haven’t been recognized at award ceremonies or received any athletic achievement medals. I don’t spend my Friday nights at bougie city clubs trying to network with business people in high places. I still don’t know how to evenly cook a boneless chicken breast on my crooked, thousand-year-old stove. I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up.

When I tell people about my decision to pursue a college degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing, which I only do when asked, I start to feel a little bit like a turtle receding into its shell. It’s the same feeling I get when I order something way less healthy than my friends at a restaurant, or when my aunts ask about my nonexistent love life. Now that I’m entering the second semester of my senior year in college, what seemed certain four years ago seems much less certain now. Even an Uber driver once said to me, “At least you have publishing experience to fall back on when the writing doesn’t work out,” after I told him the title of my major. It’s not like I want to write the Next Great American Novel; I just want to tell stories like the ones my dad used to tell my sister and me before bed. I want to write stories that readers will hold close to their hearts. I want them to talk about my writing the way my grandma talks about her favorite novel, Gone with the Wind, in a voice so soft you’d think she was spilling secrets. And while I work on that, maybe I’ll edit a few articles or blog posts to earn a living.

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Grandma at Clam Pass Beach in Naples, FL, last April.

As much as I want to defend my choices and say for certain that I will get a good job in writing or publishing, I can’t blame the skeptics. I’m skeptical of myself. Who isn’t? Part of me wonders if I should have gone with nursing or education or something that could guarantee a job right out of college. Maybe I will end up studying something different in the future, but the task of writing a book has always taken priority, and I will do everything I can to reach that goal, even if it means graduating from art school. Now I’ve learned my lesson. When people ask what I want to do after school, instead of saying, “write a book,” I say, “I want to be an editor,” which usually grants me a little more authority. But life is unpredictable and all I can do is grab hold of whatever opportunities come my way.

The more I read and write, the more I realize that it’s going to take more than a few classes and peer critiques to prepare me for writing the first draft of my first novel. What I need is patience, persistence, a better understanding of the publishing industry, and a better understanding of myself (though writing will certainly help to move this part along). I am incredibly grateful, however, for the writing classes I have been fortunate enough to attend to help me improve my skills in a craft I have always enjoyed. My dad likes to tell me that storytelling is in my Irish blood; I think storytelling is in a lot of people’s blood, but not everyone gets around to sharing those stories with anyone but themselves and their diaries. No matter what my future career may be, I hope I can escape both the visible and invisible binds that hold so many back from sharing their interpretations of the world and everything that makes it unique.

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Looking out onto a very green Ireland last July from Thor Ballylee Castle.

I didn’t get the job at Anthropologie, but two weeks later, I was hired as an intern at Cambridge Editors, and two weeks after that, I was hired as a sales associate at an “athleisure” boutique that’s only a ten-minute walk from my apartment. Both places are small and comfortable and everything I could have hoped for after a year of making lattés for the busy personnel at MGH and leisurely tourists of the Liberty and Wyndham hotels. This new Boston life has been filled with good luck, but also with a lot of hard work—not just my own hard work, but my parents’, as well, and everyone I am lucky enough to have in my life. I feel thankful every day to be where I am—thankful for the trendy coffee shops, the happy tourists, the 10% off I get by using my Emerson ID card at select stores, nights when the people upstairs go to sleep early, fresh-squeezed lemonade carts in the Boston Common, the two-hour train ride home, warmer weather, and what few scattered accomplishments that give me the confidence I need to keep going—despite this heavy weight of undergraduate uncertainty and quick surge into the scary, exciting world of adulthood.

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portrait of an idol

In my mind’s eye, six-year-old me is still sitting in the back seat of my dad’s sun-baked, forest green 1998 Ford Windstar. Entranced, I watch as from his coat pocket he produces a shrink wrapped copy of Room For Squares — the first studio album released by John Mayer in 2001. With a smile still untouched by Hollywood hecklers and the heavy burden of fame, then 23-year-old Mayer appears at once enigmatic and blissfully naive, gazing out from behind the tiled cover.

From the moment the disc was loaded in that old stereo system, my childhood would forever be colored by that sound.

Fourteen years and six concerts later, I’m still reeling from the sublime sense of understanding that comes with discovering music that resonates on a profound level for the first time. Throughout all my phases and brief fascinations, my appreciation for Mr. Mayer has never faltered.

Over the next few years, I would log countless hours with him on my pink CD player, totally entranced by his knack for hauntingly hopeful pop melodies. I used to spend whole afternoons sprawled out on the little pink rug in my bedroom, which at the time was big enough to fit my entire body length but now looks closer in size to a welcome mat. I would close my eyes and try to decipher the meanings behind his witty lyrical turns of phrase, which awakened my love of poetry long before I ever decided to become a literature major.

By the time I was seven, I had been vocal enough about my enthusiasm to compel my parents to take me to see him live in concert. A deep, spiritual feeling of inner peace washed over me as soon as that man stepped on stage — a phenomenon that has remained consistent at every show since. There is something to be said for an artist who is able to bridge the musical gap between parents and their adolescent children. Never one to issue records with parental advisories, Mayer embodies what I have coined the road trip phenomenon — one I’ve often spoken about with friends, who remember him for being the only artist everyone in the family could agree to listen during long cross country drives.

I wholeheartedly accredit Room For Squares as having been essential to the development of my soul, both as a human being and an audiophile. Since its 2001 release the album has gone platinum, selling over one million units. In the sixteen years since, Mayer has worked earnestly to expand his musical wingspan to encompass not only the acoustic pop style that rocketed him to fame, but also the genre on which he built his foundation — the blues.

As a teenager, Mayer worshipped at the altar of musical idolatry in much the same way as many would go on to worship him. Convincing his dad to drive him down to the local record store, he would hunt the racks for the discs that would become his greatest inspirations. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, and Albert King sat beside our young hero in that twilight dimension in which their spirits lingered just behind the veil. Patiently, they rewinded track after track as Mayer played along into the wee hours of the morning. This is where the blues was reborn, in the small bedroom of a thirteen year old boy in suburban Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1991.

Flash forward to 2017, and Mayer’s standing in the musical world is quickly approaching legend status. Returning to the stage to perform solo after a four year hiatus, his 2017 world tour is well underway. With a devastating new album called The Search For Everything, Mayer explores the depths of love, loss, pain, and the complex process of moving on.

This is where my story comes full circle. Being a super fan, I am signed up to receive everything from Google Alerts to Tweet notifications to official tour email updates. Basically, every time the man exhales, I am notified. When the news came through earlier this year that he would soon release a new album and launch the US leg of the tour, I was ecstatic. As I read the fine print of the email, I caught a small detail that would change my life forever: a select number of VIP meet and greet tickets will be available at each venue of the North American tour. My heart practically jumped out of my chest. Pulse racing, I embarked on a single-minded mission — if there was any way I could make this happen, any way at all, I was going to do it.

Months later, on April 9th, 2017 at Boston’s TD Garden, my father and I followed the twenty-two other VIPs backstage, where we waited in front of a black curtain while security explained how the procedure would go. “No kisses, no piggy back rides, no funny business,” they told us firmly, with a knowing twinkle in their eyes. Tears elbowed their way to the edge as I realized the moment I had been dreaming of since I was seven years old was now only seconds away. I took a deep breath as they waved me through the curtain.

Flashback to July 12th, 2008…and here we have 11 year old me, standing in front of the John Mayer promotional BlackBerry truck before his concert at what is now the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. IMG_1221Before…

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And after: Nine years later, same girl, same t-shirt, same idol. Some things never change.FullSizeRender (1)

John and I have been through a lot over the years, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve both “glo’d up” since 2008.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how it feels to have your one actual, literal Wildest Dream come true. Mr. Mayer was absolutely lovely, gracious, kind (and extremely tall). If there is any artist that truly appreciates their fans, it’s him. All I can tell you is that the little girl standing in front of the BlackBerry truck in 2008 would positively die of happiness if she only knew what the future held.

So now, I’ve got some thank-you’s that need issuing.

First of all to my father, without whom I could not have accessed the beautiful music that shaped my childhood.

Next, I’d like to thank the scout from Aware Records who signed a young Mayer after his performance at Austin’s SXSW in 2000. You found him when we needed him most.

Lastly, to Mr. John C. Mayer — no combination of words will ever be able to express just how much you mean to me (and so many others), so we’ll just keep repeating this as long as we live:

THANK YOU.

 

Margeaux Sippell, Intern

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CE Current Project Roundups: Brand New Books

Some of our favorite projects at CambridgeEditors involve helping writers develop and edit their books and manuscripts. Our editors get great satisfaction in helping aspiring authors turn their passions into a reality as they move through the exciting steps of the publishing process. These past few months we’ve received many new fiction and non-fiction projects from writers all across the country that explore matters of science, history, art, and personal discovery. Here are three intriguing new manuscripts that our editors are currently hard at work on!

Richard Galehouse: The Power of the Plan

 Over the past few months, one of our top editors Laura Paquette has been working with writer Richard Galehouse and The University of South Carolina Press to help publish his book Power of the Plan, Building a University in One of America’s First Planned Cities. The work examines the process of urban planning and the construction of The University of South Carolina. 

Daphne Binder: Israeli Architecture 

             Independent author Daphne Binder is currently partnering with our own creative editor and experienced fiction writer Ursula DeYoung for help editing a chapter of her book on the history of Israeli Architecture.

Lorri Devlin: A Reluctant Medium

Author Lorri Devlin is currently working with us on her in-progress manuscript about her journey coming to terms with humanity’s potential for psychic ability. Devlin’s work A Reluctant Medium features a series of interviews with people all across the United States and explores the relationship between personal intuition and the power of embracing ideas that appear to defy reason.

CambridgeEditors is so proud to be working with all of these talented writers and we look forward to seeing their finish works hit the shelves!bookshelfpic

-Paige, Intern

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Robert Pinsky Speaks To CambridgeEditors About The Role of The American Poet

Last week, CambridgeEditors posted a blog entry discussing the Writers Resist movement and the efforts of our nation’s writers, artists, and poets to speak up against dangerous political injustice, and to continue displaying their rights to free expression.

In our blog, we highlighted the reading of a new poem written and performed by nationally-acclaimed poet Robert Pinsky. His writing gave a collective, unified voice to the struggles of the American people and sought to regain our own ideals of democratic, unrestricted communication.

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The author of nineteen books of poetry, essays, and translations, Pinsky was honored with the National Endowment for The Humanities Fellowship in 1974, and was named the United States Poet Laureate and Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1997. Pinsky is currently the only poet to ever serve three terms as America’s national poet, a role that entrusts him with the great responsibility of raising the national consciousness and appreciation for both reading and writing poetry.

Almost twenty years ago, Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project: a collaboration of thousands of people from all across the country reading video recordings of their favorite works of poetry as a way to “ demonstrate that poetry has a vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape.”  The final product was a collection of short video documentaries showcasing individual Americans, reading and speaking about poems that have personally impacted them from iconic writers like Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, and Pablo Neruda. The project also generated more than 18,000 letters from people all over the country, and has been used by our nation’s teachers to encourage their students to consider the power of poetry in their own day-to day lives.

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In an interview with the New York Times on April 3rd, 1998, Pinsky described his reasons for creating The Favorite Poem Project as a way to express the important link between poets and national freedom. He tells The Times,

”America is not; contrary to popular opinion, a country that ignores its poets. We are a nation with a powerful film industry and visual arts but we, too, are a vital part of American culture.”

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Today, Pinsky continues to work as an advocate for bringing the messages of poets to a larger audience, giving readings at universities across the country. He also contributes and edits for publications like The New Yorker and The Best of the Best American Poetry.

In addition to his own ongoing writing projects and work with Writers Resist, Pinsky teaches creative writing as a faculty member of Boston University’s MFA program and is currently in California serving as a professor for the graduate creative writing program at Stanford University.

Recently, CambridgeEditors was lucky enough to get in touch with Dr. Pinsky himself and ask him to further describe his personal experience with Writer’s Resist as well as share his thoughts on the way poetry has impacted American culture. CambridgeEditors could not be more honored to have had the opportunity to correspond with Dr. Pinsky ourselves, and gain further insight into what he believes is the role of American writers and poets in 2017.

Below is the full transcript to his interview conducted over email on March 8, 2017:

 CambridgeEditors: How did you become involved in the Writers Resist movement, and what motivated you to participate in the rally in New York City?

Pinsky: Poets have a stake in truth, and the need to resist falsehood in the Trump administration is clear. I was grateful to be invited by Erin Belieu of Writers Resist and Suzanne Nossel of PEN, to take part in what will be an ongoing resistance.

CE: Which other readings and poems from the protest were particularly impactful or memorable for you?

Pinsky: Jill McDonough woke us all up, and warmed us on that cold day, with a wonderful reading of Seamus Heaney’s “The Republic of Conscience.”

CE: What qualities do you believe make writing and poetry an effective form of resistance in the fight for democratic ideals against political injustice?

Pinsky: Poetry, uniquely, gets under an audience’s skin— or to be more precise, into the audience’s breath and vocal cords. Even if we don’t actually say a poem’s words aloud, we imagine saying them. The First Amendment recognizes that literal and figurative and vital aspect of “speech.” The process I mean is demonstrated by the videos at www.favoritepoem.org.

CE: Both your piece and Rita Dove’s reading at the event have been called “inaugural” or “counter-inaugural” works in opposition to President Trump’s official inauguration ceremony. How do you feel about this title?

Pinsky: “Inaugural” refers to a beginning, and resistance to a sinister regime, resistance to what now calls itself “alt-right.” resistance to nativism, anti-Semitism, racism . . . that resistance is, in a word, just beginning.

CE: And what is your opinion about the Trump administration’s decision not to have an official inaugural poet read at the ceremony?

Pinsky: Given issues regarding health care, public education, income inequality, exploitation of women, official falsehood— given such issues, these ceremonial matters have little or no importance.

CE: Your poem,Exile and Lightning”, deals with America’s multicultural ancestry and legacy as a nation of immigrants. In what ways do you believe that writing and art have contributed to shaping this legacy?

 Pinsky: Our music, nearly all of it based somehow on the blues, our feature films, based on our city immigrants and urban fantasies of pioneers as well as pioneers, our fiction with its visions of limit and freedom, the poetry of Dickinson and Whitman — all of that involves the hybrid, fluid nature of American culture, its core of improvisation and blending.

CE: As our country moves forward under this new political administration what do you believe are the best ways for writers, poets, and artists to continue to combat injustice and continue the effort to protect our rights to free speech and expression?

Pinsky: First of all, there are our responsibilities and rights as citizens that we share with everyone: our right and duty to tell our representatives what we think. Second of all . . . well, second of all, every writer, every artist, makes a decision of their own.

Our staff would like to sincerely thank Dr. Robert Pinsky for taking the time to share his thoughtful, passionate views with us and our readers and for once again reminding us all about the power of words.

Not only do we all have the ability to share our ideas and make our voices heard, we have a responsibility to inspire courage and strength in others through beauty and art. It’s time to come together and tell those people who try to silence that creativity that we will never stop speaking out. Every day will continue to make decisions of our own.

– Paige, Intern

 

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Why Writers Resist and Refuse To Be Silenced

“You choose your ancestors our

Ancestor Ralph Ellison wrote.

Now, fellow-descendants, we endure a

Moment of charismatic indecency

And sanctimonious greed. Falsehood

Beyond shame. Our Polish Grandfather

Milosz and African American Grandmother Brooks

Endured worse than this.

Fight first, then fiddle she wrote.” – Robert Pinsky

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Video of Reading:( https://pen.org/multimedia/robert-pinsky-writers-resist-nyc/)

Those are the opening lines to a new poem by former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, titled “Exile and Lightening,” which he premiered at the Writers Resist Rally in New York City on January 15th, 2017, honoring the birthday of equal-rights advocate Dr. Martin Luther King. The piece looks back at the struggle of America’s first immigrants to fight against prejudice and intimidation, while at the same time calling for people everywhere to continue to “fight and make music” in the face of fear of “Their enemies” who “have delivered/Themselves to destruction.”

Pinsky’s poem, which served as a sort of counter-inaugural reading, coming the week before President Trump’s inauguration ceremony, showcases America’s legacy as a land where “the children of exile” can seek strength and meaning through poetry, science, and art.

Unfortunately, this is a legacy that he and the thousands of others who took up the Writer’s Resist cause across the globe believe is now under threat from the very people meant to protect it.  In more than 90 cities including Boston, Los Angeles, London, and Hong Kong, literary advocates gathered together to protest their frustrations with America’s current political climate, reading works dealing with the values of democracy and free expression.

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Poet and Boston University graduate Erin Belieu sparked the movement with a Facebook post urging writers to “Come together and actively help make the world we want to live in.”  Belieu worked with a national network of writers, journalists, and literary societies across the country to organize over 90 demonstrations. The most significant event was in New York City, where more than 2,000 passionate writers, artists, and readers converged on the steps of the New York Public Library to fight for their right to free expression. The NYC protests were co-organized by PEN America, the world’s most prominent literary and human rights organization. Since 1921 PEN America has participated in numerous high-profile initiatives to prevent the censorship of ideas. PEN’s organizers described the effort as a “literary protest” to “defend free expression, reject hatred, and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.” In a time of “alternative facts” where the Commander-in-chief has dubbed the national press “the enemy of the people,” we must protect our rights to free speech now more than ever.

Since America’s beginning, words have always held an essential power in the fight to establish and maintain democracy.  Thomas Jefferson was not chosen as the author of The Declaration of Independence because he had more political experience than any other delegates, but because he was considered the most skilled and eloquent writer. When Congress asked the more established John Adams to pen a document to the King of England expressing the colonists grievances, Adams instead wrote a letter urging Jefferson to take on the task by telling him he “wrote ten times better” than the other Congressmen and his writings were remarkable for their peculiar felicity of expression.” Clearly, he understood the power of language as our greatest weapon.

When America’s Founding Fathers proudly signed their names to the bottom of the Declaration of Independence they understood that they were putting their lives at risk and may be hanged for their treason. However, they also understood the essential need to stand up against injustice and defend those precious fundamental rights to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”. So they took up the pen, and they signed. Today, literary voices all over the world are issuing the same kinds of declarations in order to demand change in the current unjust political administration. On February 23rd, sixty-five influential authors and artists signed and sent a letter to President Trump requesting that he rescind his executive order on immigration, arguing that the order “hindered the free flow of artists and thinkers ­and did so at a time when vibrant, open intercultural dialogue is indispensable in the fight against terror and oppression.”

The letter (which is available to read in it’s entirety on the Pen America website was supported by influential literary figures like John Green, Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Franzen, Stephen Sondheim and many others. These authors urge Trump to recognize the harmful consequences that the immigration ban imposes upon global and cultural expression. Their petition concludes with a warning for the president about any further efforts to silence international artists.  It reads:

“We strongly believe that the immediate and long-term consequences of your original Executive Order are entirely at odds with the national interests of the United States. As you contemplate any potential new measures we respectfully urge you to tailor them narrowly to address only legitimate and substantiated threats and to avoid imposing broad bans that affect millions of people, including the writers, artists and thinkers whose voices and presence help foster international understanding.”

We at CambridgeEditors wholly support this message of art and literature as an essential component to peace, democracy, and global cooperation. Only through free, uncensored communication can people truly feel that they are able to come together and share their beliefs without fear of oppression.

We proudly stand with Writers Resists’ efforts to protect freedom of speech. As such, we urge all readers, writers, and artists across the world to keep demanding that their voices be heard.

– Paige, Intern

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