Announcing PEN World Voices Festival 2019: Open Secrets

Announcing PEN World Voices Festival 2019: Open Secrets

PEN America presents the 2019 PEN World Voices Festival: Open Secrets (May 6-12), focusing on the dissolving boundary between the public and the private in the literary, cultural, social, and political realms. A flowering of the genres of literary memoir and personal testimony has been accompanied by increased digital avenues for story-telling, revelation, and exposé before both designated and public audiences.

Movements like #MeToo and continuing reports of abuse within religious organizations have demonstrated the political velocity of deeply personal revelations, surfacing suppressed experiences and forcing society-wide reckonings. Personal narratives and individual stories have become catalysts for social change. Meanwhile, the digital revolution has enabled political micro-targeting and the leveraging of personal data in insidious ways that have the power to reshape attitudes, buying habits and even democratic decision-making. In 60+ events in dozens of venues across New York City, the 15th anniversary edition of the festival will gather fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, thinkers, and activists to discuss what we withhold and what we reveal, and the opportunities and dangers inherent in the rapid reconfiguring of the public and the private.

Today, PEN America announced highlights of the 2019 PEN World Voices, including its keynote speaker, an author whose work as an artist and activist has had a profound global resonance-the 1997 Man Booker Prize-winning author and activist Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, My Seditious Heart). She will deliver this year's Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, and will be joined in discussion by Siddhartha Deb (winner of the PEN/Open Book 2012 prize for The Beautiful and the Damned) on May 12.

Chip Rolley, Director of the PEN World Voices Festival and Senior Director of Literary Programs at PEN America, says "Presenting Arundhati Roy as the keynote speaker of this festival is nothing short of a dream come true for me. Throughout her illustrious writing career, encompassing fiction of arresting lyricism and essays of incisive urgency, Arundhati Roy has been one of the most valiant defenders of the rights of both the individual and the collective. She caps a week of events that confront our society's fast-evolving approach to personal narrative, exposition, and exposé. Our participants include some of the most potent exemplars of how social norms governing gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality have been up-ended by the sheer force of personal stories entering the public sphere. The festival offers audiences a ringside seat in witnessing the power of narrative in changing the world."

PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel says, "The voluntary surrender of privacy in return for convenience, access, and human connection is fast reshaping expectations of what remains personal. As digital technologies steamroll forward, we aim through this Festival to hit the pause button to examine why these borders are being redrawn and how writers, creators, thinkers, and individuals can influence what aspects of our lives remain truly our own as well as how to shape narratives once they enter the public sphere."

PEN America President Jennifer Egan says, "PEN World Voices offers an annual occasion for writers, artists, and intellectuals to pool resources for a weeklong exchange of creativity and ideas. In our era of global and national discord, such collaboration is essential-both as a refuge and a way forward. We hope that this year's exceptional line-up, applied to a timely theme, will prove revelatory for participants and audience alike."

Amidst a surge in new platforms of communication, people have harnessed the mobilizing power of personal stories; exciting new voices have emerged and established authors have been emboldened to explore new territory. In It Happened to Me (May 11), Edouard Louis (Who Killed My Father), Scholastique Mukasonga (The Barefoot Woman), Pajtim Statovci (Crossing: A Novel), Grace Talusan (The Body Papers), journalist and filmmaker Shiori Ito (Black Box), and poets Romeo Oriogun and Paul Tran-all of whom have, in their work, embraced the often-liberating effect of disclosure-will present an evening of powerful testimony. On May 10, Shiori Ito, poet Gerður Kristný (Bloodhoof), Miriam Toews (Women Talking), Anne Summers (Unfettered and Alive: A Memoir), and journalist Rachel Louise Snyder (No Visible Bruises) will speak of why we need to bring domestic violence into the public realm, and how they've done this in their own writings, in Intimate Terrorism. In Secrets and Lives, memoirist Dani Shapiro (Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love)and Bridgett M. Davis (The World According to Fannie Davis) willshare the secrets that defined their families (May 12).

Open Secrets willalso include those who have boldly undertaken the dangerous-and monumentally important-work of exposing the abuses they themselves have experienced at the hands of governments. Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square Protests, the festival will feature Rise Up: Tiananmen's Legacy of Freedom and Democracy (May 7), a celebration of the dauntless courage and youthful defiance that challenged China's authoritarian establishment, spotlighting and honoring those who continue to fight for freedom around the world today. Participants will include Ma Jian, Tiananmen Square student protest leaders Zhou Fengsuo, Wang Dan, and Fang Zheng, poet, novelist, musician, and documentarian Liao Yiwu, musician Martha Redbone, and more. In a return of a bravura event from last Festival, Ma Jian, Chilean poet Raúl Zurita, Egyptian PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award recipient Ahmed Naji (Using Life), author and PEN International President Jennifer Clement (Gun Love), Ukrainian poet Marianna Kiyanovska (The Voices of Babyn Yar), and Russian poet Kirill Medvedev (It's No Good: poems/essays/actions)will participate in this year's Cry, the Beloved Country, offering eloquent accounts of the struggles in their respective countries, in their original languages with simultaneous translation on screen (May 9).

After Raúl Zurita's imprisonment by the Pinochet regime in 1973, the legendary poet of resistance chronicled atrocities committed against the Chilean people, including attacks on their language; onMay 8, Zurita will read his poetry, and join poet Norma Cole and poet/translator William Rowe in conversation. On May 9, in Essex Hemphill: Remembering and Reimagining, author/activist Darnell L. Moore (No Ashes in the Fire); writer, poet, and playwright Timothy DuWhite; interdisciplinary artist, performer and writer Ni'ja Whitson, and filmmaker and writer Michelle Parkerson will pay homage to Essex Hemphill, the incisively political poet who gave voice to the experiences of black gay men in America during the 1980s and 1990s.

Digital technology has the potential to democratize global politics, empower activists, and facilitate free speech, but recent events have also shown us how technology can also exert a sinister influence on democratic practices. In Orwell's China (May 8), exiled Chinese-born novelist and dissident Ma Jian (China Dream) and journalist Leta Hong Fincher (Betraying Big Brother: The Feminist Awakening in China) will speak with Chip Rolley, addressing the heightening surveillance culture, police state, and attacks on feminism in China. Digital technology has also, of course, abruptly reshaped our personal lives; featuring Niviaq Korneliussen (Last Night in Nuuk) and Gabriela Wiener (Sexographies), Love in the Time of Tinder will look at how literature depicts the tumultuous digitized terrain of modern love and sexuality (May 7).

Highlights of the 2019 PEN World Voices lineup of challenging and enlightening contemporary writing include recent examples of some of literary fiction's richest offerings from the U.S. and abroad.In Women Uninterrupted, Elif Shafak (Three Daughters of Eve), Inês Pedrosa (In Your Hands), and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and PEN America President Jennifer Egan (Manhattan Beach) will speak about writing unforgettable fictional female characters (May 11). Acclaimed Latin American authors Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Severina) and Rodrigo Fresán (The Invented Part) will discuss their work in The Library of Borges (May 7). Resonances-moderated by PEN World Voices co-founder Esther Allen-will feature Niviaq Korneliussen, Bridgett M. Davis (The World According to Fannie Davis), Gabrielle Bell (Everything Is Flammable), and Willivaldo Delgadillo reading passages from their own works as well as writing by authors who influenced them (May 9).

A festival that transcends genres and media, PEN World Voices will feature living legend Philippe Petit (On the High Wire)-who famously walked between the roofs of the Twin Towers in 1974; he has, in the words of Mikhail Baryshnikov, achieved "a precise balance of chaos and creativity," and will share what it takes to do this with fellow artist Elizabeth Streb in Artists of the Air (May 7). George Packer (The Atlantic, former New Yorker staff writer) has written Our Man, a compelling biography of Richard Holbrooke, arguably the last great American diplomat, which he will discuss with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel in A Very American Diplomat (May 7). On May 10, PEN World Voices will feature the New York premiere screening of Kirill Serebrennikov's film Leto, following Kino co-founding singer-songwriter Viktor Tsoi on his early journey from underground experimentation towards Soviet Union-wide stardom. With the film touching on Soviet censorship in the 1980s, and Serebrennikov currently under house arrest in Russia, the event will, on multiple levels, serve as a tribute to uninhibited creativity in the face of institutional oppression. In Countering Colonialism: A Queer Ritual of Healing, PEN World Voices turns toward yet another expressive form: queer Nicaraguan performance artist Elyla Sinverguenza will present their new work, Saint Peter Goose/Duck Pulling, reimagining a violent hyper-masculine ritual as a healing act (May 11).

On May 8, Soledad Castillo and Gabriel Méndez-who, through the oral history initiative Voice of Witness, shared their stories of border crossing to escape manifold horrors at home-will speak with the platform's co-founder, acclaimed author Dave Eggers (The Parade), and the organization's executive director Mimi Lok, in My Story, My Journey, My Freedom.

PEN World Voices' Next Generation Now series of events for children and families this year includes the fun and fabulous Drag Queen Story Hour (ages 3-8, May 11) featuring Miz Jade, as well as the creative workshop Spellbound Theatre: Today I Will Be Fierce! (for children up to age 8, May 11), featuring story time with Nidhi Chanani (illustrator of I Will Be Fierce!).

What follow are brief descriptions of a selection of 2019 PEN World Voices Festival events. PEN America will announce additional programming-featuring Sue Halpern, Isabella Hammad, Mohammed Hanif, Sheila Heti, Christos Ikonomou, Marlon James, Emiliano Monge, H.M. Naqvi, Joyce Carol Oates, Tommy Orange, Sonia Sanchez, Kara Swisher, Colm Tóibín, Tara Westover, Shoshana Zuboff, and many more-as the Festival approaches.

PEN World Voices Festival 2019: Open Secrets - Programming Highlights

Rise Up: Tiananmen's Legacy of Freedom and Democracy
With Zhou Fengsuo, Liao Yiwu, Ma Jian, Wang Dan, Fang Zheng, Martha Redbone, and more
Tuesday, May 7
7:00-9:00pm
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10025
$35

Thirty years ago, students marched, tanks rolled, and blood spilled in the center of Beijing. A passionate movement towards democracy, free expression, and peace was born in Tiananmen Square, before the rapt attention of audiences around the world. Despite the Chinese Communist Party's ongoing efforts to erase this event from historical accounts, Tiananmen's legacy echoes with activists and artists today, as young people demand truth and democracy in Brazil, Venezuela, Hungary, the United States, and beyond. The PEN World Voices Festival, Humanitarian China, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are proud to present a once-in-a-lifetime celebration of the dauntless courage and youthful defiance that challenged China's authoritarian establishment. This event will feature poet Liao Yiwu, novelist Ma Jian, and key student organizers of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement who fight to preserve its memory against censorship, including Wang Dan, Zhou Fengsuo, and Fang Zheng. Join us for an unforgettable evening of poetry and song, with artists such as Martha Redbone, as we remember the dissidents who marched in 1989, and honor those who continue the fight around the world today. At a time when totalitarianism has extended into the digital realm, the struggle to protect freedom of expression remains as vital today as it was thirty years ago in Tiananmen Square.

Co-presented with Humanitarian China and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

This event is presented in conjunction with The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls, on view at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine through June 30. Beginning with the historic framework of the Cathedral as a site of welcome and refuge, this multidisciplinary exhibition explores the question of sanctuary through the work of modern and contemporary artists, illuminating the intersections between spiritual and social identity and the ways in which personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion, and exclusion.

Artists of the Air
With Philippe Petit and Elizabeth Streb
Tuesday, May 7
7:00-8:30pm
Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC
44 Charlton St., New York, NY 10014
$30

In 1974, Philippe Petit danced in the sky, effortlessly traversing the air between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center via high wire and electrifying audiences around the world. That feat, just one among many tightrope miracles Petit has created, inspired a Caldecott Medal-winning children's book, an Oscar-winning documentary, a feature film, and global admiration. Join Petit as he discusses death-defying art with fellow daredevil artist Elizabeth Streb, a choreographer, performer, and MacArthur "Genius" grant winner who incorporates high-risk elements of circus arts and rodeo in her work. How do daring and transgressive acts redefine our sense of art and performance? How can artists' airborne actions transform the ways we look at the buildings that anchored their ropes, the cities in which they appear, and global issues of peace and conflict? Join these masters of extreme performance as they discuss virtuosity, daring, and Petit's boundary-shattering career.

Co-presented with Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC

A Very American Diplomat
With George Packer, Suzanne Nossel, and Tom Nagorski
Tuesday, May 7
7:00-8:30pm
Asia Society
725 Park Ave., New York, NY 10021
$20

Fiercely intelligent and deeply creative, the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke left an indelible mark on global politics. He was twice named Assistant Secretary of State, served as America's ambassador to Germany and the United Nations, brokered peace in Bosnia, and served as President Obama's representative in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Yet despite his accomplishments, Holbrooke never attained the heights that he sought. Did overreaching ambition and boundless self-confidence prevent this statesman from achieving greater results on the world stage? And how did such failings mirror the principles and practices of the country he served? Join George Packer, author of a new biography of Holbrooke, as he dissects the brilliance of "our man" in Afghanistan and beyond with PEN America CEO and former State Department official Suzanne Nossel. This fascinating examination will be introduced by journalist and Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski.

Co-presented with the Asia Society

Love in the Time of Tinder
With Niviaq Korneliussen and Gabriela Wiener
Tuesday, May 7
7:00-8:30pm
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E. 3rd St., New York, NY 10009
$12 in advance, $15 at the door

In today's digital-dominant world of dating-where ghosting is the norm and choices seem inexhaustible-does romance still even exist? Apps like Tinder and Bumble seem to have rendered traditional practices of flirtation and seduction obsolete. As consent debates intensify and privacy vanishes, how do we link with one another in meaningful ways? And what role does literature play, now that the sonnet has been replaced by the swipe? How do our novels, stories, and essays reflect this tumultuous state of modern love? Join panelists Niviaq Korneliussen and Gabriela Wiener for an in-depth discussion of attraction and romance in the age of the app.

Co-presented with the Nuyorican Poets Café

The Library of Borges
With Rodrigo Rey Rosa and Rodrigo Fresán
Tuesday, May 7
7:00-8:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
$20

In poetry and prose, the work of Jorge Luis Borges is mysterious and accessible, epic and intimate. This world-shaping Argentinian writer fused the compulsively readable elements of pulp material with fascinating intellectual subject matter. Borges explored a wide variety of topics across stories, poetry, novels, and essays that have garnered international acclaim. His influence can still be felt in the works of renowned writers around the world. Latin American creative giants Rodrigo Rey Rosa and Rodrigo Fresán are among the contemporary literary figures who owe a debt to Borges. In this remarkable event, the two authors discuss the meaning of their predecessor's legacy, and how it influenced their own amazing works.

Orwell's China
With Ma Jian, Leta Hong Fincher, and Chip Rolley
Wednesday, May 8
7:00-8:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
$20

The world marvels at China's economic growth and technological innovation, yet barely hidden from sight is a darker reality. Daily life in China has begun to parallel and, in some cases, outstrip the chilling vision of George Orwell's 1984 (a book that cannot even be mentioned on much of China's social media). Dissident voices are banned from the internet, while minorities, foreigners, and political opponents can suffer imprisonment or worse. And a developing "social credit" system seeks to combine 24/7 surveillance with consumer data mining to rank citizens on their likelihood to offend. In this unique event, hear voices that have spoken against the 1984-style oppression of China's government. Exiled author Ma Jian's new novel China Dream skewers the absurdities of totalitarian power in a China that increasingly invades the private lives of its citizens, while author Leta Hong Fincher examines the transformative potential of feminist movements in China, as well as the brutal oppression that has been visited upon China's feminists. The discussion will be moderated by PEN World Voices Festival Director Chip Rolley.

My Story, My Journey, My Freedom
With Dave Eggers, Mimi Lok, Soledad Castillo, and Gabriel Méndez
Wednesday, May 8
7:00-8:30pm
Nuyorican Poets Cafe
236 E. 3rd St., New York, NY 10009
$12 in advance, $15 at the door

Soledad Castillo and Gabriel Méndez left Honduras and crossed the southern border into the United States as young teenagers. It wasn't to "game the system" or commit any crime; it was to escape the dangers of gang violence and the horrors of sexual abuse. Their stories, part of a literature of testimony, are captured and shared by Voice of Witness, an oral history initiative that disseminates the words of the oppressed to fight for human rights. PEN America is proud to welcome Castillo and Méndez, who will describe their journeys from injustice to freedom. They will be joined by Voice of Witness co-founder and bestselling author Dave Eggers, as well as the organization's executive director Mimi Lok, for a discussion about how individuals' stories that depict injustice can transform narrators and audiences alike.

Co-presented with the Nuyorican Poets Café

Raúl Zurita
With Raúl Zurita, William Rowe, and Norma Cole
Wednesday, May 8
8:00-9:30pm
The Sanctuary
St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
131 E. 10th St., New York, NY 10003
$12

Few authors have explored the nexus of art and activism with the expressive skill, international reach, and creativity of Raúl Zurita. After his imprisonment by the Pinochet regime in 1973, this legendary poet of resistance chronicled atrocities committed against the Chilean people, including attacks on their language. Zurita's works have been published in translation around the world and shared via public art displays; his verses have been skywritten above New York City, etched into the Atacama Desert, and carved into Chilean cliff-faces. His many honors include the Chilean National Prize for Literature, a Guggenheim Foundation scholarship, and the Asan World Prize for poetry. In this presentation, Zurita will read from his poetry collection INRI and other works, followed by a conversation with poet Norma Cole and poet/translator William Rowe.

Co-presented with the Poetry Project, with support from the Poetry Foundation

Resonances
With Niviaq Korneliussen, Bridgett M. Davis, Willivaldo Delgadillo, Gabrielle Bell, and Esther Allen
Thursday, May 9
6:00-7:00pm
Mishkin Gallery
Baruch College
135 E. 22nd St., New York, NY 10010
Free

Many authors draw on stories from the past in order to write about the present. Join acclaimed writers Niviaq Korneliussen, Bridgett M. Davis, Gabrielle Bell, and Willivaldo Delgadillo as they read their own words and share the works of the literary giants on whose shoulders they stand. This evening will be moderated by writer and translator Esther Allen.

Presented in partnership with Baruch College's Great Works of Literature and Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Programs

Cry, the Beloved Country
With Ma Jian, Raúl Zurita, Marianna Kiyanovska, Ahmed Naji, Kirill Medvedev, and Jennifer Clement
Thursday, May 9
7:00-8:30pm
Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WNYC
44 Charlton St., New York, NY 10014
$20

Across the world, writers have responded to growing economic inequality, social injustice, political oppression, and eroding freedoms with some of the most powerful messages of resistance, resilience, and hope. Join us for an evening of solidarity and hear moving accounts of where and how things have gone awry: with Ma Jian (China), Raúl Zurita (Chile), Marianna Kiyanovska (Ukraine), Ahmed Naji (Egypt), Kirill Medvedev (Russia), and Jennifer Clement (United States and Mexico). The evening will be presented in the authors' original languages, with simultaneous written English translation.

Essex Hemphill: Remembering and Reimagining
With Darnell L. Moore, Timothy DuWhite, Ni'ja Whitson, and Michelle Parkerson
Presented with BAM
Thursday, May 9, 2019
7:00-8:30pm (Discussion)
8:45-10:30pm (Screenings)
Peter Jay Sharp Building, BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
$20, $15 for BAM and PEN America Members

Proud, provocative, and uncompromising poet and activist Essex Hemphill gave voice to the experiences of black gay men during the 1980s and 90s. He used verse and performance to inspire a generation of artists, activists, and readers, exploring the interplay of race, identity, and politics during the rise of AIDS. His collaboration with activist and writer Joseph Beam on the 1991 literary anthology Brother to Brother continues to resonate today.

Several of today's leading artists, writers, and poets convene for an evening to pay tribute to Hemphill's work and influence. First, writer Darnell L. Moore hosts a panel discussion featuring Timothy DuWhite, Ni'ja Whitson, and Michelle Parkerson, reflecting on how Hemphill's work has reverberated across the decades and how his legacy has influenced activist artists from the 1980s through the present.

After a short break, we present a screening of Black Is...Black Ain't (1994), a study of the definitions of "blackness" that African-Americans impose on each other, and Anthem (1991), a hip-hop-inflected experimental short. Both films feature Hemphill and were directed by his friend and collaborator Marlon Riggs.

Hemphill's work is also featured in Triptych (Eyes of One on Another), presented as part of the BAM 2019 Winter/Spring Season.

Film Screening and New York Premiere: Leto, directed by Kirill Serebrennikov
Friday, May 10
7:00pm
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave., Astoria, NY 11106
$15 ($11 seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3-17) / free for children under 3 and Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above)

A defiant pioneer of hard-edged Russian music, Viktor Tsoi embodied the rock culture of early '80s Leningrad, and wrote impassioned anthems that helped fuel the USSR's Perestroika transformation. The iconic singer-songwriter's early journey from underground experimentation towards Soviet Union-wide stardom is recreated in Leto, a film that was described by Variety as "wild, whirling" and was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in 2018's Cannes Film Festival. While the movie screams in support of free artistic expression, its accomplished director, Kirill Serebrennikov, languishes under house arrest in Russia, where he awaits judgment on dubious claims of corruption. Join us for this cinematic celebration of uninhibited creativity in the face of institutional oppression.

Co-presented with the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) and the Museum of The Moving Image.

Intimate Terrorism
With Rachel Louise Snyder, Gerður Kristný, Miriam Toews, Shiori Ito, and Anne Summers
Friday, May 10
7:00-8:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
$20

All too often, domestic and sexual violence remain hidden from sight, but more writers are using fiction, poetry, and journalism to bring it into the open. Hear Iceland's Gerður Kristný, Canada's Miriam Toews, Japan's Shiori Ito, and Rachel Louise Snyder of the United States talk about what prompted them to tell these confronting stories, and how this often private terror can more easily be tackled once a light is shone on it. They talk to Australian feminist journalist and author Anne Summers.

Drag Queen Story Hour
With Miz Jade
Ages: Three to eight
Saturday, May 11
12:30-1:30pm
Town Stages
221 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013
$5

During Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH), drag queens read stories to children! This glamorous and educational phenomenon was born in San Francisco and has spread to libraries and schools throughout the United States and around the world, including popular manifestations in Sweden and Japan. This fun and fabulous literary experience celebrates gender diversity, builds empathy, and teaches tolerance with every story told. Miz Jade will read from books, sing songs, and lead her young audience in arts and crafts explorations. Drag Queen Story Hour is designed for children aged three to eight, but all are welcome to join for a joyful celebration of diversity and creativity.

A World Voices Festival Next Generation Now event

Space at Town Stages sponsored in part by Sokoloff Arts

CLMP Press Fest
Saturday, May 11
1:00-6:00pm
Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Free

Join us at the third annual Press Fest, an indie book fair hosted by the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP). Discover remarkable books from small publishing houses, find your new favorite literary magazines, and meet with emerging and established literary talents. This event will feature award-winning publishers, author signings, and opportunities to take home exceptional works of literature. Don't miss this communal celebration of independent publishing and international literature.

Spellbound Theatre: Today I Will Be Fierce!
With Nidhi Chanani
Ages: Up to 8
Saturday, May 11
2:00-3:00pm
Town Stages
221 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013
$5

Spellbound Theatre, New York City's award-winning "tiny theatre for tiny people," offers a hands-on creative workshop that celebrates the fierce adventurer in each of us. Families will be treated to an interactive storytime featuring Nidhi Chanani, co-creator (with Bea Birdsong) of I Will Be Fierce, an imaginative picture book about courage, confidence, and kindness. Following the storytime reading, young explorers will learn to design puppets and take the adventure into their own hands. Don't miss this captivating journey of imagination and multi-disciplinary artistic expression.

A World Voices Festival Next Generation Now event

Space at Town Stages sponsored in part by Sokoloff Arts

Women Uninterrupted
With Elif Shafak, Inês Pedrosa, and Jennifer Egan
Saturday, May 11
5:00-6:30pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
$20

Strong, bold female protagonists can often inspire readers to overcome restrictions that threaten to interrupt their own lives. Pulitzer-winning author Jennifer Egan, Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak, and Portuguese writer Inês Pedrosa have created unforgettable female characters including a pioneering U.S. Navy diver, an adventurous trio of Muslim students at Oxford, and three generations of spirited Portuguese women. Join us for a special panel discussion in which the writers discuss these creations, and why they chose to bring these women into worlds that were not always ready, or able, to deal with them.

It Happened to Me
With Edouard Louis, Paul Tran, Shiori Ito, Romeo Oriogun, Scholastique Mukasonga, Pajtim Statovci, and Grace Talusan
Saturday, May 11
7:30-9:00pm
SubCulture
45 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
$20

Placing the personal story in the public sphere is one of the most powerful and transformative of acts, liberating the storyteller and also giving the listener a deeper and more empathetic understanding. When the stories are life altering, even life threatening, the effect is even more profound: witnessing genocide or war crimes, fleeing your homeland as an economic or sexual refugee and, in the era of #MeToo, recounting episodes of rape or other forms of sexual abuse. Writers from around the world give powerful and very personal testimony about what happened to them.

Countering Colonialism: A Queer Ritual of Healing
With Elyla Sinverguenza
Saturday, May 11
8:00pm
BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance
2474 Westchester Ave., Bronx, NY 10461
$20

Growing up in rural Nicaragua, queer performance artist Elyla Sinverguenza endured the country's toxic and ongoing legacy of colonialism. In their visceral new performance piece Saint Peter Goose/Duck Pulling, Sinverguenza transforms a violent and hyper-masculine ritual from the country's patriarchal tradition into an immersive experience of healing for artist and audience members alike. Join Sinverguenza for the world premiere of this participatory act of creativity, as a country's troubled history is revisited through a cathartic and engaging ceremony.

Co-presented with BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance and the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)

Secrets and Lives
With Dani Shapiro and Bridgett M. Davis
Sunday, May 12
12:00-1:30pm
Frederick P. Rose Auditorium
The Cooper Union
41 Cooper Sq., New York, NY 10003
$20

Imagine discovering, through a genealogy website, that the man who you'd grown up believing to be your father was in fact not. Or what if you knew, from childhood on, that your family and community were sustained by an illegal lottery your mother ran from within your home? Best-selling memoirist Dani Shapiro and acclaimed novelist and filmmaker Bridgett M. Davis lived these extraordinary stories and transformed them into fascinating memoirs. Join us for a discussion of the life-changing secrets that families hold close, and what happens when those hidden experiences are shared with the world.

Co-hosted by The Cooper Union Office of Continuing Education and Public Programs

Arundhati Roy: The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
With Arundhati Roy and Siddhartha Deb
Sunday, May 12
6:00-7:30pm
Apollo Theater
253 W. 125th St., New York, NY 10027
$30-$65

For the Festival's closing event, PEN welcomes Arundhati Roy, winner of the Booker Prize for her novel The God of Small Things and author of The Ministry of Utmost Happiness and My Seditious Heart. In the Festival's keynote lecture, named for past PEN America president Arthur Miller, Roy will discuss the defense of the collective, of the individual, and of the land, in the face of the destructive logic of financial, social, religious, military, and governmental elites. Following the talk, Roy will join celebrated novelist and journalist Siddhartha Deb for a discussion about the ways in which literature can open up space for justice, rights, and freedoms in an increasingly hostile world.

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