Following a bruising, biting, downright disheartening campaign season, there’s one thing most of us can agree on—and it doesn’t matter if your preferred candidate is currently picking out drapes for the Oval Office. We now live in a post-truth world. Or, at least, a world in which the truth doesn’t mean what it used to. Pundits and politicians spin it daily, weaving and unweaving as if waiting for Odysseus to return home. Half and misleading “truths” are sold as gospel online, in the media, and straight from the mouths of our elected officials. All this has a real effect, perhaps not directly upon any single, individual one of us, but on the very institutions on which our collective democracy is founded. So what’s a regular Joe or Jane to do?
Start at the community level. Get involved with it. Don’t just eat local and shop local. Participate local. Put down your phone, lace up your shoes, walk next door and spark up a conversation with your neighbor. Get to know a cashier, hostess, or busboy. Write a letter to the editor, or to your local representatives in the Statehouse or Congress. But what to say? And how to say it?
The MFA in Creative Writing Program at Stony Brook Southampton, in an event cosponsored by Canio’s Books, and Poetry Street, just might have the answer. On Sunday, January 15, activists and community members will convene for an afternoon dedicated to empowering our community through writing workshops and readings.
The event, Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out, is free and open to the public (kids are also welcome). It is one of many similar events scheduled for January 15 all around the world as part of Writers Resist, a nationwide movement to reclaim democracy and celebrate the history and promise of our diverse nation. The goal, according to Julie Sheehan, Director of the MFA program and an organizer of the Southampton event, “is to get everyone’s experience down on the page, because from our experience comes our wisdom. We’re not looking for brilliant writing, only that you have experience. We’ll be handing out informational packets at the event with options for taking the writing further, if that’s something participants want to do.”
The day in Southampton begins at 2:30 p.m. in Duke Auditorium at Stony Brook Southampton’s Chancellor’s Hall with the Teach In portion of the event. If you have something to say but don’t quite know how or where to begin, this is for you. Participants will get started on writing down the kind of powerful testimonies that can change the world for the better. “When you write down your story,” Sheehan say, “it becomes a powerful tool for social change.” Don’t worry: a team of writers will be there to help get those important experiences, insights and observations down on paper.
Following the Teach In will be the Speak Out from 4–5 p.m. Come listen to inspiring readings, selected to highlight the ideals of democracy, diversity and free expression. Moderated by Sheehan, the readers will include local favorites such Roger Rosenblatt, Ursula Hegi, Philp Schultz, Grace Schulman, Megan and Scott Chaskey, L.B. Thompson, Michelle Whitaker, Kathryn Levy, Tracy M. King-Sanchez, Adrienne Unger, Otilia Aguilar, Afua Ansong and other voices from our vibrant and diverse East End community. One speaker, an MFA candidate, has chosen to use this event to speak out about her undocumented status. “It’s a brave story,” Sheehan says. “It’s urgent, it’s what all of us need to hear.”
RSVP to Julie Sheehan at 631-996-4421. For or more information click here.