Our Virtual Pivot

The impact of COVID-19 on student learning and well-being cannot be overstated. In response to the challenges facing our school system, we are:

  • Increasing the time we spend (virtually) in classrooms
  • Donating books directly to students, particularly those who are unable to attend our virtual sessions.

We believe in the power of connecting through storytelling.

In a virtual classroom visit earlier this school year, one student thanked author Jason Reynolds “for acknowledging my presence as a Black girl and reminding me that I’m stronger than I think.”

Diverse stories and role models are especially valuable.

In another session, one student told visiting author Winifred Conkling that “after reading this book I felt empathy. You left me more open to more world issues and that the world is very unfair.”

You can help us continue to empower students through literature by donating $15 to our #GivingTuesday campaign, or by spreading the word. Share one book that has made a difference in your life. With your support, we will make an impact for a whole generation.

Why Diverse Books Matter

An educator we partner with once told us that “Students often feel like they cannot relate to poetry.” This is a feeling that some of us, even as adults, can immediately understand. Sometimes, reading is hard. When we think about the books that we do enjoy reading, the books that we relate to and that might have prompted us to start thinking of ourselves as book-lovers, a key element in many of them is that they allowed us to see a reflection of ourselves.

This is why diverse books matter. It matters to children who don’t see themselves as the protagonist in so many books with White main characters. It also matters to children who are White, and who would benefit from seeing and learning about the true diversity of the world around them.

At PEN/Faulkner, we emphasize the need for students to read culturally relevant books and to hear from authors who can speak to their backgrounds and lived experiences. By connecting writers like Derrick Weston Brown, Kim Johnson, Innosanto Nagara, Mark Oshiro, and Mia García with students, we can help demonstrate that, in the words of our educator partner, “not all poetry is written by dead White men.”

If you believe in our mission of using literature to foster empathy by amplifying diverse voices, then please consider donating to fund our organization’s efforts. You can save the date to participate in our upcoming #GivingTuesday campaign on December 1st, or help us spread the word by sharing one book that has made a difference in your life.

Some of the books we’ve donated this year (and authors we’ve brought into classrooms) include The Resolutions by Mia García, La Borinqueña by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, This Is My America by Kim Johnson, Voces Sin Fronteras by the Latino Youth Leadership Council of LAYC (published by Shout Mouse Press), Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro, Ink Knows No Borders by Patrice Vecchione, Stamped by Jason Reynolds, Oh, the Things We’re For! by Innosanto Nagara, Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, On Our Way to Beautiful by Yolanda Young, The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott, Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith, I Am The Night Sky by the teen artists and writers of Next Wave Muslim Initiative (published by Shout Mouse Press), Sylvia & Aki by Winifred Conkling, and The Magic In Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson.

Tell Us About Your Book!

What was the last book that challenged you, frightened you, made you pause, welcomed you, changed your mind on something, or did all of these things at once?

Books have been our solace, our means of connection, and our starting point for so many important conversations. That is why getting books in the hands of students who might otherwise find it difficult to fill their own bookshelves matters so much.

Tell us, in 2-3 sentences, about a book that has made a difference in your life and what that meant to you.

Share your story on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag us at @penfaulkner #MyOneBook. We are so excited to hear and amplify your stories!

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 for a recording of our Virus event? You can watch that here.

We are working on the recordings and transcripts for our Escape Literary Conversation and the virtual 2020 PEN/Malamud Award Ceremony. Please do stay tuned!

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.