Araceli Esparza, Judith Claire Mitchell and Timothy Yu will all read at the Jan. 15 event.
Donald Trump’s contentious election to the U.S. presidency has mobilized massive numbers of people eager to join the political discourse. Now members of Madison’s literary community will stand up and speak out.
On Jan. 15 (Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday), at least a dozen cities nationwide will host Writers Resist events. Organized by poet and feminist activist Erin Belieu, the events will give poets and writers the mic. “Writers will come together in solidarity to reassert the principles of democracy and civil liberty that we feel are central to the American promise,” says Madison co-organizer Sean Bishop, who helped put together a Writers Resist event at Gates of Heaven, benefiting the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
Many participants will read original works, and some have chosen from a curated selection of published works on the issues of democracy and free expression. Co-organizer Rita Mae Reese says after she shared a list of possible authors and works with participants, a number of writers wanted to read the powerful 1952 poem by Alberto Rios, “The Border: A Double Sonnet.”
The diverse lineup includes Masood Akhtar, Marilyn Annucci, Derrick Austin, Moisés Villavicencio Barras, Jamel Brinkley, Natalie Dawn Eilbert, Araceli Esparza, Fabu, Sarah Fuchs, Marcela Fuentes, Lissa McClaughlin, Rubén Medina, Judith Claire Mitchell, Sean Patrick Mulroy, Barrett Swanson and Timothy Yu. The evening will close with an open mic, for members of the audience.
At a time where anti-intellectualism and “post-truth” are the new normal, this type of public solidarity is critical, says Bishop. “Poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction are so essential to our current moment. Poems and stories have the ability to address what rings true intuitively, while also engaging with the factual truth.”
By featuring a racially diverse group of participants, Writers Resist provides an outlet for people marginalized or vilified by Trump and his supporters. For local author and educator Araceli Esparza, it’s difficult to know where to start. “To be honest, I have mixed emotions about what I want to read,” says Esparza, whose family emigrated from Mexico, a country that has often faced the brunt of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. “It’s hard, because my family is separated by a border.”
Even so, Esparza remains hopeful. “I’m approaching the next four years as I have the last four, with great determination to thrive,” says Esparza. “I show my children and other youth around me that no matter the age you are, no matter where you came from, you have a voice in our civil democracy. Your voice matters. And your opinion matters.”
Writers Resist takes place at Gates of Heaven, 302 E Gorham St., Jan. 15, 6-9 p.m.