Announcing the 2019 PEN/Malamud Award Winner!

WASHINGTON, DC—John Edgar Wideman has been selected as the winner of the 2019 PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. Given since 1988 in honor of the late Bernard Malamud, the award recognizes a body of work that demonstrates excellence in the art of short fiction.

“John Edgar Wideman’s short stories render an internal and external world as vivid and intricate as Faulkner’s, as emotionally painful as Baldwin’s, and as unique as his own streets and stoops of Homewood,” wrote the PEN/Malamud Award selection committee. “Through complex, lyrical language, Wideman creates intimate portraits of the characters in his sprawling family, in his classrooms, in prison, and elsewhere, characters whose conflicts mirror the larger world as it struggles with history and identity. Wideman challenges readers to consider what defines, separates, and unites us.”

Wideman’s books include American HistoriesWriting to Save a LifePhiladelphia Fire, Brothers and Keepers, Fatheralong, Hoop Dreams, and Sent for You Yesterday. He is a MacArthur Fellow, has won the PEN/Faulkner Award twice, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award. He divides his time between New York and France.

“I am very excited,” said Wideman. “I feel honored, lucky, and grateful to join such a distinguished group of writers.”

Previous winners include Sherman Alexie, John Barth, Richard Bausch, Anne Beattie, Saul Bellow, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Frederick Busch, Peter Ho Davies, Junot Diaz, Andre Dubus, Stuart Dybek, Deborah Eisenberg, Nathan Englander, Richard Ford, Nell Freudenberger, George Garrett, Amina Gautier, Barry Hannah, Adam Haslett, Amy Hempel, Edward P. Jones, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nam Le, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alistair MacLeod, William Maxwell, Maile Meloy, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Cynthia Ozick, Edith Pearlman, James Salter, George Saunders, Joan Silber, Elizabeth Spencer, Peter Taylor, John Updike, Eudora Welty, and Tobias Wolff.

“It’s thrilling to be able to add as accomplished an artist as John Edgar Wideman to the list of distinguished PEN/Malamud Award-winning writers,” said PEN/Faulkner Executive Director Gwydion Suilebhan. “His presence enriches the legacy of this award.”

About the art of the short story, Bernard Malamud said “I like packing a self or two into a few pages, predicting lifetimes. The drama is terse, happens faster, and is often outlandish. A short story is a way of indicating the complexity of life in a few pages, producing the surprise and effect of a profound knowledge in a short time.”

Wideman will be honored at the PEN/Malamud Award ceremony on December 6. Ticket information for the ceremony, which will be open to the public, will be available later this summer.

Fall 2019 Internship

Love literature, the arts, and education? Want to learn how a nonprofit operates from the ground up? If you answered yes, The PEN/Faulkner Internship program is perfect for you. We are currently looking to fill positions for Fall 2019.

  • Research and Evaluation Intern
  • Literary Events Intern
  • Writers in Schools Intern

Spring 2019 Interns

Writers in Schools Internship (Multiple positions available)

Writers in Schools (WinS) is PEN/Faulkner’s K-12 literary arts education and community outreach programming. WinS brings contemporary literature and living writers into under-resourced DC public schools, public charter schools, community organizations, and the DC Jail; donates books to low-income readers; administers an annual Youth Essay Contest; hosts in-class personal essay writing workshop residencies with professional writers; provides bilingual Spanish/English books and programming; and offers summer youth programming. We believe that through literature and writing students develop self-confidence and imagination; come to see reading as both an act and an identity; view writing as self-expression and self-narrative; experience the personalization of literary expression; and develop a sense of global citizenship and community.

Tasks include:

  • Helping coordinate author visits; attending visits as an Author Ambassador.
  • Supporting the PEN/Faulkner Day of Gala Author Visits in the Fall.
  • Researching contemporary authors and books to add to our roster.
  • Writing and editing book synopses and author bios for outreach purposes.
  • Researching multi-media texts (essays, poetry, videos, songs, visual art) to support student learning of our core texts.
  • Crafting content for print and web.
  • Generating content for multiple social media platforms.
  • Supporting information management of book lists, author database, website, and volunteers.
  • Researching DC public and charter school partners, publishers, and community organizations.
  • Assisting with program evaluation.
  • Supporting the PEN/Faulkner volunteer program.
  • Supporting, where possible, PEN/Faulkner’s Literary Conversations events (author readings).
  • General administrative tasks.

 

Literary Events Internship (Multiple positions available)

The Literary Events Internship will focus on marketing, program development, and research centered around our public literary events and projects. These include our “Literary Conversations” series, the annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony, the annual PEN/Faulkner Gala, and many more exciting events featuring today’s most popular and talented authors!

Tasks include:

  • Researching contemporary authors for upcoming literary events, as well as potential local and national event partners
  • Assisting with the logistics of upcoming author visits, such as scheduling, travel bookings, and accommodations
  • Crafting book synopses and author bios for upcoming programs
  • Generating content for multiple social media platforms
  • Tracking event ticket sales and donor contributions
  • Attending our literary events and assisting with audience management, set up/take down, and book sales
  • Organization and categorization of PEN/Faulkner archival materials
  • General copywriting and administrative tasks

 

Research and Evaluation Internship (1 position available)

Writers in Schools (WinS) is PEN/Faulkner’s K-12 literary arts education and community outreach programming. WinS brings contemporary literature and living writers into under-resourced DC public schools, public charter schools, community organizations, and the DC Jail; donates books to low-income readers; administers an annual Youth Essay Contest; hosts in-class personal essay writing workshop residencies with professional writers; provides bilingual Spanish/English books and programming; and offers summer youth programming. We believe that through literature and writing students develop self-confidence and imagination; come to see reading as both an act and an identity; view writing as self-expression and self-narrative; experience the personalization of literary expression; and develop a sense of global citizenship and community.

We are seeking applicants for an internship position that will work directly on projects that demonstrate our impact through program evaluation and research.

Tasks include:

  • Collecting and entering survey data.
  • Researching, reading, and summarizing external studies and reports related to WinS’s work, to include best practices and current trends in education, particularly arts and literacy education, and education reform.
  • Assisting in creating and editing summaries of data and findings, both internal and external.
  • Assisting in using research and evaluation to help shape the WinS narrative about our work and impact in alignment with our logic model and theory of change.
  • Assisting with the writing and editing of WinS research reports, publications, and others.
  • Helping, as needed, to coordinate author visits; attending visits as an Author Ambassador.
  • General administrative tasks.

                    

REQUIREMENTS (ALL POSITIONS)

Hours: Minimum 10 hours/week. Candidates must be able to work shifts of at least 4-hours.

  • Compensation: Unpaid
  • Who can apply: Undergrad students, graduate students, and recent graduates.
  • Deadline to apply: July 31. Interviews and hirings are done on a rolling basis, and positions may fill prior to this date.
  • Start date: Mandatory orientation on Saturday, September 7
  • End date: Week of December 2

TO APPLY

Send an email (noting the position and semester you are applying for in the subject line) with a current resume and cover letter to applications@penfaulkner.org. In your cover letter, please explain what you will bring to the position, as well as what you hope to gain from the experience.

LOCATION

Our office is located in the WeWork Wonder Bread building 1 block from the Shaw-Howard University Metro station.

COMPENSATION

This is an unpaid internship. Academic credit can be provided. Travel within the work day for internship duties are paid for by PEN/Faulkner. Upon completion of the internship, PEN/Faulkner will provide a travel stipend for interns.

No phone calls, please.

Announcing the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner

WASHINGTON, DC—Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Call Me Zebra (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) has been selected as the winner of the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

“We are truly delighted to be able to honor such a rare and remarkable work of art,” said PEN/Faulkner Executive Director Gwydion Suilebhan. “Along with our other four finalists, Call Me Zebra makes absolutely clear what a towering moment this is for American fiction.”

This year’s judges—Percival Everett, Ernesto Quiñonez, and Joy Williams—considered more than 400 novels and short story collections by American authors published in the US during the 2018 calendar year. Submissions came from more than 180 publishing houses, including small and academic presses.

“History is the ultimate judge,” wrote Everett, Quiñonez, and Williams, “And it will certainly treat all five finalists with kindness. However, once in a while a singular, adventurous, and intellectually humorous voice appears that takes us on an inescapable journey. Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Call Me Zebra is a library within a library, a Borges-esque labyrinth of references from all cultures and all walks of life. In today’s visual Netflix world, Ms. Van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel performs at the highest of levels in accomplishing only what the written novel can show us.”

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Call Me Zebra, which was longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and Fra Keeler, which received a Whiting Writers’ Award and was a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” selection. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Fellowship from the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes in Barcelona. Van der Vliet Oloomi is an Assistant Professor in the English Department’s MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame.

“I discovered William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury alongside Toni Morrison’s Beloved almost two decades ago in my senior year of high school,” said Van der Vliet Oloomi. “These two books have remained an integral part of the evolution of my literary consciousness; I consider them material proof that the vital energy of life can be transmitted to readers across time and space and that literature has the potential to heal both the individual and the social body. Call Me Zebra represents an homage to the great writers of the past and present who have had the courage and intellectual stamina to think with their hearts about what it means to be human in a world where justice and equality remain scarce for so many. Winning the PEN/Faulkner Award at such a delicate and trying juncture in our nation’s troubled history is an honor I am infinitely grateful to carry. It is, for me, a reminder from our mysterious universe that honest writing can allow us to speak humbly with one another, an intimation to love and to listen deeply each time I set pen to paper.”

The PEN/Faulkner Award is America’s largest peer-juried prize for fiction. As winner, Van der Vliet Oloomi will receive a $15,000 prize. Each of the four finalists—Blanche McCrary Boyd, for Tomb of the Unknown Racist; Richard Powers, for The Overstory; Ivelisse Rodriguez, for Love War Stories; and Willy Vlautin, for Don’t Skip Out on Me—will receive $5,000. Recent winners include Joan Silber, for Improvement; Imbolo Mbue, for Behold the Dreamers; James Hannaham, for Delicious Foods; Atticus Lish, for Preparation for the Next Life; and Karen Joy Fowler, for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, among many others.

All five authors will be honored at the 39th Annual PEN/Faulkner Awards, which celebrates the winner as “first among equals.” The ceremony will be held at Arena Stage’s Mead Center for American Theater, which is located at 1101 6th Street NW in Washington, DC, on Saturday, May 4 at 7 pm. Washington Post book critic Ron Charles will serve as master of ceremonies for an evening that will include presentations of new writing by all five finalists. Tickets are $95 for the reading ceremony and formal reception, which will feature specialty cocktails and an hors d’oeuvres buffet. Tickets can be purchased online at https://pfaward19.eventbrite.com.

4/30 | Literature On Screen: The Hate U Give

Don’t miss our final Literary Conversation of the season on Tuesday, April 30th at AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center! Get your tickets now!

Join us in welcoming author Angie Thomas and actor Russell Hornsby to DC as they discuss the translation of the bestselling novel, The Hate U Give, to the critically acclaimed movie adaptation, as well as the very real events that inspired the story. This unique Literary Conversations event will feature a reading from the novel as well as select clips from the film The Hate U Give.

The conversation will be moderated by MahoganyBooks Co-Founder Ramunda Young, and will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. Copies of Thomas’ novel The Hate U Give will be available for sale.


Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is on sale now.

Actor Russell Hornsby has amassed a catalog of film, television and stage credits that any actor would envy. From comedies and science fiction to dramas and stage plays, his craftsmanship has always rung sharp and true. Hornsby starred in the Oscar-nominated film FENCES, opposite Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and held his own with a powerhouse presentation of his character, Lyons, which Hornsby played in the Broadway revival of FENCES in 2010, also with Washington & Davis. Hornsby also starred opposite Regina King in the critically acclaimed Netflix mini-series “Seven Seconds” from writer Veena Sud (“The Killing”), appeared in an arc in the recent season of Showtime’s “The Affair,” and can currently be seen starring in the hit Fox series “Proven Innocent,” from showrunner Danny Strong (“Empire”).

Up next, Hornsby will star in the NBC pilot “Lincoln” (aka The Bone Collector), a drama series based on the bestselling book series by Jeffery Deaver that adapted into the 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Hornsby will play the titular role of ‘Detective Lincoln Rhyme,’ a New York City police detective and a maverick who becomes obsessed with taking down the Bone Collector, an elusive serial killer who enjoys taunting the police while tormenting the victims.

Hornsby is perhaps recently best known for his outstanding role in the box office hit sequel CREED II, opposite Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. Additionally, Hornsby has garnered much praise for his award buzzworthy role in the Fox 2000 film THE HATE U GIVE, for which he was nominated for an NAACP image award for Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Hornsby’s other film credits include roles in the Jim Sheridan-directed GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’ and the Sundance Grand Jury Award nominated film LUV from director Sheldon Candis.

In term of television, Hornsby is no stranger to America’s living rooms, having starred on numerous drama series including the critically-acclaimed ABC Family show “Lincoln Heights” as police officer Eddie Sutton. He could also be seen fighting to keep humanity safe from things that go bump in the night, in his role as hard-nosed detective Hank Griffin on NBC’s smash hit “Grimm.” Additionally, Hornsby is known for his role as ‘Luke’ on HBO’s “In Treatment,” opposite Gabriel Byrne (THE USUAL SUSPECTS).

Hornsby also has an extensive theatre background and became an aspiring thespian after auditioning and winning the role of the Scarecrow in his high school production of THE WIZ. Hornsby has taken the more traditional – and currently less traveled – route to his success cutting his teeth on stage. While the phrase “paying his dues” is about as cliché as it gets when referring to an actor’s journey, Russell is its embodiment as he progressed from backroom performances to the bright lights of New York’s famed theater district, Broadway, where he’s appeared in numerous productions including a stint in August Wilson’s FENCES. Hornsby’s run the gambit with TV, film and even video game voice work on his resume.

Born and raised in Oakland, California, Hornsby was in the theatre program at Boston University and studied for a summer at the British Academy of Dramatic Arts program at Oxford University. Hornsby currently resides with his family in Los Angeles.

Ramunda Lark Young and her husband Derrick are Co-Founders and Owners of the nationally recognized and award-winning MahoganyBooks located in the historic Anacostia community of Washington, DC. A bookstore focused on books for, by, and about people of the African Diaspora in Washington, DC. Young has successfully worked with celebrity authors like ballet icon Misty Copeland, R&B legend Charlie Wilson, Civil Rights leader Congressman John Lewis, award winning actor Omar Epps and countless others.

Young is the founder of The Ramunda Young Group (formerly Ramunda Young, Inc). – a company dedicated to Encouraging Extraordinary Women to SOAR – Surpass Obstacles and Rise! Built on the principle that women can exceed beyond their expectations when given the proper tools to build authentic business relationships. Young also currently serves as Vice Chair of the Prince William County Human Rights Commission.

She has been named to the Root 100 list of Most Influential African Americans in the nation (2018) and featured in Essence Magazine, Vanity Fair, the Washington Post and others. Ms. Young graduated from Langston University in Oklahoma with a degree in Business. She and her husband are excited parents of a precocious teen named Mahogany.
www.RamundaYoung.com
ramunda@mahoganybooks.com

 

“Diverse Voices in Latinx Children’s Literature” Mini-Conference

In early March I attended the “Diverse Voices in Latinx Children’s Literature” Mini-Conference at the Bank Street College of Education in New York where I had the opportunity to listen to panels about graphic novels and pictures books and how these authors use their Latinx identity and Spanish language to influence their writing. Panelists such as Duncan Tonatiuh, Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, Anika Aldamuy Denise, Pablo Cartaya, and Aida Salazar spoke about the importance of Latinx representation throughout literature; coming from a mixed-race family and how that affects one’s identity; and the need to have uncomfortable yet necessary conversations about race and borders.

One of the goals of PEN/Faulkner’s Nuestra Voz programming is to spark these types of conversations about immigration, identities, and borders by providing students with opportunities to read books by and about authors who are immigrants or from immigrant families, who struggle with their identities, and who want to speak out about inequality in today’s society.

As the Nuestra Voz Program Associate, I work closely with Latinx/Hispanic authors, texts, and students to make these conversations happen. In her introduction to the conference, the president of the American Library Association, Loida Garcia-Febo, highlighted the importance of books and having a personal library. “Libraries equal strong communities,” she said. Similarly, Writers in Schools, the education arm of PEN/Faulkner which Nuestra Voz is part of, believes in building personal libraries, developing a joy of reading and writing, and in building community.

As a native Spanish speaker myself, listening to the panelists intertwine Spanish words into their conversation and express their concerns about the use of brackets, asterisks, and italics when using Spanish words in an English text was refreshing. Miranda-Rodriguez stated, “If you want to know what it means, pull out your smartphone and Google it.”

At PEN/Faulkner, we value literature and representation and we strive to create a space for Latinx/Hispanic voices to be heard. “If you don’t relate to it, learn from it,” stated Hilda Burgos.

To read more and watch the conference in full, click here.

Nina Arroyo Santiago, Nuestra Voz Program Associate

Announcing the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award Finalists!

Judges have selected the five finalists for the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, America’s largest peer-juried prize for fiction. The finalists are: Blanche McCrary Boyd for Tomb of the Unknown Racist (Counterpoint), Richard Powers for The Overstory (W.W. Norton), Ivelisse Rodriguez for Love War Stories (Feminist Press New York), Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi for Call Me Zebra (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and Willy Vlautin for Don’t Skip Out on Me (Harper Perennial).

“This year’s finalists are proof that we are living in an age in which tremendous, significant stories are being told by a multiplicity of unique voices,” said PEN/Faulkner Executive Director Gwydion Suilebhan. “We are honored to be able to call attention toward such profound, thrilling artistry.”

This year’s judges—Percival Everett, Ernesto Quiñonez, and Joy Williams—considered more than 400 novels and short story collections by American authors. The judges made the following collective statement about their selections:

“In this year’s fiction we experienced more honesty and generosity than in any head of state. In a time when our leaders are telling us that our lives don’t matter, that language exists only to convey misinformation, we found all entrants speaking loudly, eloquently, and timelessly, reaffirming that our lives do. Our finalists were chosen for their genuine and emotional possession of an American narrative that includes us all, beyond walls or any lines.”   

The winner, who will receive $15,000, will be announced on April 29, 2019. The remaining four finalists will each receive an honorarium of $5,000. In a ceremony that celebrates the winner as “first among equals,” all five authors will be honored during the 39th Annual PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony on May 4 at 7 pm. This year’s ceremony will be held at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. Tickets are $95 for the reading ceremony and cocktail reception, which will feature specialty cocktails and an hors d’oeuvres buffet. Tickets can be purchased online at https://pfaward19.eventbrite.com

About the Finalists

Blanche McCrary Boyd is an American novelist, journalist, essayist, and professor. She is the author of five novels and a collection of autobiographical journalism (The Redneck Way of Knowledge, 1981). Her newest novel, Tomb of the Unknown Racist (2018), completes The Blacklock Trilogy. Tomb of the Unknown Racist is narrated by the same character as The Revolution of Little Girls (1991) and Terminal Velocity (1997), although the three novels function independently. Boyd’s essays and reporting have appeared in venues such as the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Ms, Vanity Fair, and Village Voice.
Blanche McCrary Boyd grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, the source of her ‘redneck’ roots, and much of her writing radiates from her Southern background. Her works traverse the racial and political contradictions of the second half of the 20th century, intertwining personal and psychological adventures with feminist protests, lesbianism, racial conflicts, and a confrontation with the violent white supremacist subculture.

Richard Powers is the author of twelve novels, including The Overstory (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize), Orfeo (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize), The Echo Maker and The Time of Our Singing. He is the recipient of a MacArthur grant and the National Book Award and has been a Pulitzer Prize and four-time National Book Critics Circle finalist.

 

Born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Ivelisse Rodriguez earned a PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from Emerson College. She has published fiction in All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, as well as Obsidian, Label Me Latina/o, the Boston Review, Kweli, Aster(ix), and the Bilingual Review, among other publications. Love War Stories is her first book.

 

Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Call Me Zebra, published in the U.S. by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in February 2018 and in the U.K. by Alma Books in May 2018, and Fra Keeler, published in 2012 by Dorothy: a publishing project, and by Giulio Perrone Editore in Italy. Van der Vliet Oloomi won a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” award; she was a finalist for the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Emerging Author Award, and on the longlist for the PEN Open Book Award. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, a Fellowship from the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes in Barcelona, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Ledig House. Her work has been compared to that of Vladimir Nabokov, Alfred Hitchcock, and Rachel Kushner. Van der Vliet Oloomi’s work has appeared in Electric Literature, The Paris Review, GRANTA, Guernica, BOMB, and the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, among other places. Call Me Zebra is forthcoming from Paralela 45 in Romania and Paris Yayinlari in Turkey. She is an Assistant Professor in the English Department’s M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame, splitting her time between South Bend, Indiana, and Florence, Italy.

Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Willy Vlautin started playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager and quickly became immersed in music. It was a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s “Too Much Water So Close to Home” that inspired him to start writing stories. Vlautin has published five novels: The Motel Life (2007–NYT Editor’s choice and notable book, made into a major motion picture starring Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsh, Stephen Dorff, and Kris Kristofferson), Northline (2008), Lean on Pete (2010-Winner of the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, short-listed for the IMPAC award, and a major motion picture starring Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny), and The Free (2014-Winner of the Oregon People’s Choice Award). His fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out on Me, has just come out in paperback. His work has been translated in ten languages.

3/10: Don’t Miss Fantastic Women at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation & the National Museum of Women in the Arts present “Fantastic Women.” Tickets on sale now!

Join us in celebrating the work of Lesley Nneka Arimah, Kelly Link, and Carmen Maria Machado, women writers who all use elements of the fantastic in their work, often in ways that allow them to explore crucial themes (power, sexuality, identity, the body) without the constraints imposed by strict realism. These authors play with the boundaries of time and space through short stories and novels, and use their writing to push back against the traditional boundaries of women’s fiction.

The conversation, moderated by DC native Amber Sparks, will be followed by a Q&A and a book signing reception. This will be an unforgettable night of engaging dialogue and conversation, and we hope to see you there!

Fantastic Women is presented as a part of PEN/Faulkner’s Literary Conversations series and the NMWA’s Cultural Capital Program.

Black Lives Matter Week of Action

Black Lives Matter at School

Today kicks off the DC area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in DC public and charter schools across the city. All this week, PEN/Faulkner’s Writers in Schools program will be hosting conversations between Black writers and students in schools across four wards of the city, with a special emphasis on how the power of stories and storytelling can improve the school experience for students of color.

Each conversation will be rooted in books about the Black experience and will be led by writers interested in connecting their writing and lived experience to that of young people. A bit about the books and writers:

  • In the illustrated picture book A Card From My Father, Samantha Thornhill writes about a young girl struggling with loss and grief for her incarcerated father.
  • In New Kid, graphic novelist Jerry Craft tells the story of a young man forced to navigate between two worlds: the one in which he grew up and a wealthy private arts school.
  • Local poets Alan King and Terri Cross Davis emphasize the joy found in resistance and the joy family can bring (however individual students define “family”).
  • For the youth writers of Beacon House and Ballou High School, in partnership with Shout Mouse Press, amplifying personal narratives of pain and hope go hand-in-hand in Our Lives Matter and The Day Tajon Got Shot, collective texts sharing powerful messages of resistance.
  • Paul Butler focuses the conversation on the criminal justice system and his experience as a former federal prosecutor in Let’s Get Free.
  • Simba Sana’s memoir Never Stop recounts both his upbringing in DC in the ’70s and ’80s and his navigation of identity, faith, and American culture.
  • Writer William Jones, founder of the Afrofuturism Network, explores that representation of Black superheroes and heroines in comic book history in The Ex-Con, Voodoo Priest, Goddess, and the African King from social, political, and cultural perspectives. 

Writers were asked to reflect on and adhere to the thirteen guiding principles for the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in order to participate: diversity, globalism, Black women, Black villages, loving engagement, restorative justice, collective value, empathy, queer affirming, transgender affirming, unapologetically black, Black families, and fostering intergenerational ties.

Black Lives Matter is a non-violent peace movement that examines injustices that exist at the intersections of race, class and gender, including issues of poverty, mass incarceration, homophobia, unfair immigration laws, and access to healthcare. BLM Week of Action in DC area schools is sponsored by the DC Area Educators for Social Justice and Teaching for Change

Don’t miss our upcoming Literary Conversations!

February 12, 2019
What Was, What Is, and What Will Be: A Cross-Genre Look at Afrofuturism
Featuring: Tananarive Due, NK Jemisin, & Airea D. Matthews
7:30pm at the Folger Shakespeare Library

Cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in his essay “Black to the Future,” and its meaning has expanded to encompass alternative visions of the future influenced by astral jazz, African-American sci-fi, psychedelic hip-hop, rock, rhythm and blues, and more. Join us as we delve into the genre with three of its most highly acclaimed writers: Tananarive Due, N.K. Jemisin, and Airea D. Matthews. This Literary Conversation is co-sponsored by Folger Shakespeare Library’s O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, and The Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Poetry and Literature Center.

Tickets can be purchased here! *TICKETS ALMOST SOLD OUT*

Can’t get enough Afrofuturism? The reading at the Folger will be preceded by a moderated conversation with all three writers at the Library of Congress! This event is *free* and will take place at 4pm. More information can be found here.

March 10, 2019
Fantastic Women
Featuring: Lesley Nneka Arimah, Kelly Link, and Carmen Maria Machado
7pm at the National Museum of Women in the Arts

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation & the National Museum of Women in the Arts present “Fantastic Women.” Join us in celebrating the work of Lesley Nneka Arimah, Kelly Link, and Carmen Maria Machado, women writers who all use elements of the fantastic in their work, often in ways that allow them to explore crucial themes (power, sexuality, identity, the body) without the constraints imposed by strict realism. These authors play with the boundaries of time and space through short stories and novels, and use their writing to push back against the traditional boundaries of women’s fiction. The Fantastic Women event will be an unforgettable night of engaging dialogue and conversation, and we hope to see you there!

Tickets on sale now!