Save the Date: Giving Tuesday 2020

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There is still much more work left to do. For PEN/Faulkner, that work involves amplifying diverse voices in literature, fostering empathy through stories and storytelling, and helping every child get access to the resources they need to read, write, and participate in civil society.

We look forward to continuing that vital effort by participating in #GivingTuesday, which falls on December 1st. As part of both a global movement of giving and the official DC region’s campaign, hosted by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, we are asking you to help us achieve our goal of raising $5,000.

If you donate between 9-10am on December 1st, it will help increase our chances of receiving an extra $1,000, awarded by the Catalogue for Philanthropy to the nonprofit with the most unique donors during that time.

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If you want to share about one book that has changed your life, we’d love to hear it! You can learn more about how to do so here.

Our Education Programs

In the last three years, PEN/Faulkner has:

  • Donated 13,958 books to students across all eight wards of the city;
  • Served 11,853 students through inspiring author visits and professional writing instruction; and
  • Worked with more than 170 writers, many of whom are local to the DC area.

We believe that connecting authors with young people builds a culture of inclusive conversation, so we design our education programs specifically to amplify a diverse range of authors who inspire the next generation.

Through our Writers in Schools program, we work with teachers in primarily Title I schools across DC to integrate free books, author visits, and writing instruction into their curriculum.

We also offer Writing Workshops where we bring trained, professional writers into classrooms to support students with developing writing skills. This fall, some of our workshop topics include point of view in writing, using figurative language, and tackling the personal statement.

This year, we’re piloting a new program, Writers in Residence, in which an expert writer will develop an in-depth relationship with students over an entire school year. Each residency is organized around a theme that guides students through learning about the principles of writing in the context of larger social justice issues. This theme also informs the class writing project that students develop over the course of the residency.

Our Together We Read program brings together students from different schools in a book club to engage in dialogue with each other and with authors.

During the summer, we offer Summer Writing Programs to students in DC and beyond that include daily and weekly writing workshops, many with guest authors and editors. Last year, our virtual programming covered topics that ranged from telling one’s own story to examining diversity in publishing.

Finally, four of our five education programs are simultaneously offered as part of our Nuestras Voces initiative, which focuses specifically on Latinx- and Hispanic-centric narratives. Through this initiative, we amplify Latinx and Hispanic-identified writers and their stories and connect them with the students we serve.

If you believe in our mission of helping every child get access to the resources they need to read, write, and participate in civil society, then please consider donating to fund our organization’s efforts. You can donate now here, or save the date to participate in our upcoming #GivingTuesday campaign on December 1st. We appreciate your support.

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2020 PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony

Friday, December 4, 2020, at 7:30 pm EDT

Get your ticket now! 

Join us for this virtual ceremony celebrating Lydia Davis, the 2020 winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story!

Awarded annually to writers who have demonstrated exceptional achievement, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story is one of the nation’s most significant literary prizes for the short story form. This year, we are celebrating our 2020 winner, Lydia Davis, in a ceremony that will feature a reading as well as an in-depth conversation/Q&A about Ms. Davis’s work. The event will also feature remarks by Janna Malamud Smith, Bernard Malamud’s daughter.

This evening is hosted in partnership with the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University.

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our public programs to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation when you claim your ticket so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Announcing ESCAPE

We are incredibly excited to announce our next Literary Conversation, ESCAPE, featuring Margaret Atwood, Rion Amilcar Scott, Nisi Shawl, and moderator Morgan Jerkins!

Monday, November 23, 2020, at 7 pm EDT

Get your ticket now!

With everything that has been thrown at us this year, people are looking for ways to forget about the state of reality now more than ever. Literature provides the perfect opportunity to escape into new worlds in an attempt to cope with and understand all that happens in our own.

Don’t miss this riveting Literary Conversation with authors who have built worlds and universes in their speculative fiction to explore the human condition and its impact on our reality.

We are proud to partner with Politics & Prose as our exclusive bookseller for this event. You can find all our featured authors’ books on the Politics & Prose website!

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation when you claim your ticket so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Watch Literature on Screen: You

Looking to watch our other Fall 2020 Literary Conversations? You can catch Virus here and Escape here.

Literature on Screen: You is the third installment of Literature on Screen, a mini-series within PEN/Faulkner’s Literary Conversations program in which we feature authors whose work has been adapted into a film or TV series. Featuring Caroline Kepnes, author of the best-selling book turned hit Netflix series You, in conversation with actor Penn Badgley and moderator Chris Klimek, this event took place on September 23, 2020 at 7 pm EDT.

The transcript for this event is available here.

Highlights

“What do we want from people, how much do we want them to follow us? And then also we have to understand that we don’t get to make those rules, it’s just not the way humans are built, they’re going to do things we don’t want them to do. Like Joe, being the worst possible version of that.” – Caroline Kepnes

“I think we all identify with [what] Caroline was saying – when we suffer, we tend to overanalyze, you know. In our sadness, our vision is actually clouded. Sometimes we might think it’s… sharper, it’s clearer. But I think actually sadness brings a veil of a kind, and we do become overly analytical. And so, to me, as much as I understand [Joe], I also think, huh, where I understand and identify with him – I have some [self-accounting] to do there.” – Penn Badgley

“To me, [Joe] always considers himself the victim, the one in the right, the only one with a moral compass. But the other part of that logic is that if he’s moral, no one else can be. No one else will ever go through what he’s been through. No one will know how hard it is to be him.” – Caroline Kepnes

“Joe doesn’t exist without white privilege! … I think Joe is too charming in the show, personally. I always wanted to make him creepier… I think that Joe on camera is, to me, the best thing he is, is an allegory for white supremacy in a way. That’s what I got in touch with in season two a lot, personally.” – Penn Badgley

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Learn more about our upcoming Literary Conversations here.

You can also pre-order the third book in the Joe Goldberg series, You Love Me, by Caroline Kepnes here.

Claim your ticket for VIRUS

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we live our lives. It has also shown us our weak points and failures as a society. This Literary Conversation will feature authors who, in their work, have explored viruses and pandemics as well as the effects of those on human nature.

You won’t want to miss this fascinating and especially relevant conversation featuring literary powerhouses Stephen King (The Stand), Lauren Beukes (Afterland), and Emma Donoghue (The Pull of the Stars). They will be joined by moderator and author Daniel H. Pink.

DATE: October 19, 2020

TIME: 7 pm EDT

Get your ticket now!

If you’re interested in delving into the themes behind these authors’ works ahead of the event, we’ve compiled a small list of resources that you can start with.

  1. Stephen King is Sorry You Feel Like You’re Stuck in a Stephen King Novel (NPR)
  2. Emma Donoghue’s ‘The Pull of the Stars‘ is Eerily Perfect for These Times (Shondaland)
  3. What If a Pandemic Killed All the Men? (Electric Literature)

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation when you claim your ticket so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Claim your ticket for Literature on Screen: You

We are incredibly excited to announce that Penn Badgley, star of the hit Netflix series You, will be joining author Caroline Kepnes in this third installment of Literature on Screen!

DATE: September 23, 2020

TIME: 7 pm EDT

Caroline Kepnes will be in conversation with Penn Badgley and moderator Chris Klimek (NPR, Washington Post) to discuss the adaptation of her books into a hit Netflix series, as well as the modernization of stalking in the digital age that takes place in her novels.

This unique Literary Conversation will feature a reading from the novel, clips from the show, and a Q&A with the audience.

Get your ticket now!

If you’re interested in delving into the themes behind You ahead of the event, we’ve compiled a small list of resources that you can start with.

  1. What Penn Badgley Wants Us to Learn From ‘You’ (NY Times)
  2. The guys who won’t hear “no” (Salon)
  3. Caroline Kepnes and Ani Katz on Using Fiction to Dissect Toxic Masculinity (CrimeReads)

Further, if you’re not following us on Instagram yet, now’s your chance!

Catch Caroline Kepnes‘ takeover of our Instagram feed next Thursday!

She’ll be sharing more about what led her to write You, advice she has for aspiring writers, what she’s currently reading, and more.

Mark your calendar and make sure you follow our Instagram here.

 

 

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation when you claim your ticket so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Announcing Our Upcoming Literary Conversations

We’re excited to announce the start of our fall virtual Literary Conversations! We’ll be launching the season with the third installment of our Literature on Screen mini-series in which we feature authors whose work has been adapted for film or television.

LITERATURE ON SCREEN: YOU

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 7:00pm EDT

LITERATURE ON SCREEN: YOU will feature Caroline Kepnes, author of the best-selling book turned hit series You. (Available on Netflix.) Caroline and Chris Klimek (NPR, Washington Post) will discuss the adaptation of her work and the modernization of digital-age stalking that takes place in her novels.

VIRUS

Monday, October 19, 2020 at 7:00pm EDT

Coming up in October is VIRUS, a discussion of viruses and pandemics in literature. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we live our lives. It has also revealed our weak points and our societal failures. What can literature teach us about our present moment?

This fascinating and uniquely relevant conversation will feature literary powerhouses Stephen King (The Stand), Lauren Beukes (Afterland), and Emma Donoghue (The Pull of the Stars). They will be joined by moderator and author Daniel H. Pink.

This year, PEN/Faulkner has decided to adopt a Pay-What-You-Will model for our Literary Conversations to ensure that they remain accessible to all audiences. If you’re able to, please consider making a donation when you claim your free ticket so we can continue to provide high quality literary programs that matter to you.

Voices from PEN/Faulkner Interns: Natalie Davis (Part 2)

This spring, we were joined by incredible interns who each wrote essays inspired by their time in the organization. We are thrilled to present the second essay by Natalie Davis, our spring Education Programs intern. You can also read her first, on her BookTube channel, and a piece by Alice Tsai on culturally responsive classrooms.

“Twilight Is My Harry Potter”

Author’s Note: The following post may slightly offend those that are of the houses Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff. You have been warned.

There once was a girl who had never given much thought to how she might become deeply mesmerized by an enchanting saga that would forever fill her hopeless romantic heart. This was a much simpler time. Also, what she didn’t know was that, although her world was Forks, Washington, she missed out on the exciting discovery of Hogwarts.

It was 2007 and the girl noticed the Harry Potter series at her first-ever Scholastic Book Fair. No other kids she knew seemed to be as interested as she was, but she still decided to look into the series herself. Due to the high demand of the books, all physical copies had been checked out. The girl was only able to get her hands on the audiobook for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from her local library. She was beyond excited to get her first listen. She was perhaps halfway through the third audiobook when she later learned that the series was being adapted into films. She wanted—no she needed—to see the movies, since she couldn’t find a way to get her hands on all seven books. After begging her dad to buy her one of the movies, she finally had in her possession Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She watched that movie a number of times, at least enough times for her to hold Harry Potter-related conversations, but a day came where the continuous movie watching was over. She was nine, and her parental guardian felt as though the supernatural might not simply be fiction, and put an abrupt end to her Harry Potter experience.

Being a Potterhead meant nothing to her.

Three years later, in 2010, one of the girl’s friends came to her talking about this other book series they had recently become engrossed in. It was as fantasy-filled as Harry Potter, but with a romantic twist of two star-crossed lovers; “a love story with a bite.” Thanks to that friend, the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer became the girl’s new fascination. Once again, the girl never got her hands on the physical books themselves, but thanks to FX she was able to watch the first three novels that had been adapted into films and brought to TV— Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse. She remembers FX doing a Twilight Movie Marathon one weekend. She was flipping through the channels as she recognized the opening scene to the first film. That night her sole focus was watching those movies and commencing her dying love for Bella, the Cullens, the Pack, vampires, and werewolves. And from the age of twelve, Forks became her world.

In 2013, she was fifteen, and by that time she was able to read and watch what she wanted without parental control. That summer her mentor gifted her all four volumes, which led her to devoting most of her time indoors reading during her entire summer break. Well, all of July and two weeks in August. She literally read the first three in a period of three weeks! She would stay up until breaking dawn—pun intended—her head buried in those books, escaping into a story her teen heart yearned for. She confessed her love for Twilight soon thereafter, although some would say it was an obsession, because it had gotten to the point where she started committing the movies to memory. Every line, character’s actions, props placement, and scene settings were embedded in her brain for good. She became a Twihard, and that was when the true fan-girling for her began.

Her Twilight collection grew as she—really, her parents—invested in the volumes of graphic novels, the novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, the Funko Pop figures of Bella and Edward, the Twilight Tenth Anniversary Edition novel, Life and Death, and the Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga DVD collection. Despite the multiple memes of why vampires shouldn’t sparkle, the multiple reviews/critiques on why the entire saga is a terrible read, or the multiple comparisons to Harry Potter, she loved every part of it. Sure, the saga had its flaws, but for her it was about romance, the literary quotes, the coming-of-age story about figuring out one’s true nature/self, the meaning of friendships, the meaning of family, sacrifices, and having a love that will last a lifetime. Forever.

That girl was me.­

Natalie Davis was our Spring 2020 Education Programs intern. If you’re interested in becoming a Literary Outreach/Education Programs Intern with PEN/Faulkner, our Fall 2020 application for virtual internships is now open

Voices from PEN/Faulkner Interns: Alice Tsai

We continue our spotlight on the wonderful interns we worked with this spring with an essay by our Research and Evaluation intern, Alice Tsai. You can also read Natalie Davis’ two essays, on her BookTube channel and becoming a Twihard.

As the population of the United States becomes increasingly diverse, it is important that students are in classrooms that are culturally responsive in nature. But what exactly is a culturally responsive classroom? 

A culturally responsive classroom can consist of different components, but the focus should be on helping build connections between student experiences outside of school to classroom content so that students can succeed socially and academically. When students feel their identity is represented in the classroom, they can have higher self-esteem, better social-emotional functioning, and increased classroom engagement, all of which are key components for motivation and academic success. A culturally responsive classroom ensures that the diverse perspectives of all students are represented in learning. This not only includes racial and ethnic diversity, but also cultural identity, gender, class, and other identities. 

A key component of having a culturally responsive classroom is to expose students to multicultural literature. It is important that students can see themselves reflected in the books that they read. When people see themselves in books, they are able to connect with the story and gain a greater understanding of themselves and others. Representative stories help students affirm their own identities, allowing them to feel valid and valued. The book becomes more meaningful to them. 

Likewise, students will be able to learn about other cultures, helping them empathize with other communities by relating to the characters in diverse stories. Not only do diverse stories help students with building an understanding of themselves and others, they assist with getting students interested in reading. When students can identify with the characters in a book, their attention becomes captured by the story. 

Think back to your own childhood. Many of those classic stories that you remember so fondly were centered around a narrative with a white protagonist and characters. Do not get me wrong, there are a few multicultural books that have managed to break into the standard set of stories many children are familiar with, such as Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. However, there cannot just be that one token multicultural book, or even a handful of books, that tell the story of any demographic group. As Chimamanda Adichie says in her well-known TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story,

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

A single story has the power to perpetuate stereotypes that can be damaging. Children can feel disconnected from their own culture and society because they do not connect with the stereotypical narrative the single story presents. However, with a diverse range of multicultural stories, students can see that there is more than one story and envision a reality outside of the stereotypical norm. Stories have the power to validate a child’s identity and to inspire them to pursue their dreams. Characters that students are able to connect to can help prompt students to step outside of the stereotypes that society has boxed them into.

So teachers, take care to include a wide range of representation of characters in the stories you keep in your classroom. Parents, encourage your children to read different kinds of books with diverse characters. And for yourself, be open minded about the books that you read and surround yourself with. Try something new. There is always more than one story.

Alice Tsai was our Spring 2020 Research and Evaluation intern. If you’re interested in becoming a Research and Evaluation Intern with PEN/Faulkner, our Fall 2020 application for virtual internships is now open