What a night! Opening with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s haunting, inspiring last speech, and topped by a surprise Kazim Ali guest appearance, April’s Resistance Mic! featured an incredible range of poetry by Stephanie Burt, Kevin Holden, and Jill McDonough. Together they traveled from the lyrical and spiritual to the bluntly embodied, bringing into vivid color both the despair of urban prisons, and the industriousness of the sparrows gracing shopping malls. Bethany M Allen took the audience along on an intense personal journey of identity, and Sari Boren evoked up-close encounters with the 9/11 and the ancient Hebrew Temple memorial walls. Kazim Ali showed the spirit of resistance as it reached from a Hyderabad home to the grandest aspirations for a life of dignity; Greg Harris read Indonesian author Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s protest story “Eyewitness” as warning of what happens when courtrooms shift from the business of seeking justice, to denying it.
Bethany M. Allen is the Boston Program Director at Peer Health Exchange, a national organization that provides a skill-based mental health, sexual health, and substance use education program in communities that experience health disparities. She is the former Statewide Initiatives Director for the Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth (BAGLY), one of the nation’s oldest and largest LGBTQ youth organizations, and co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC). She frequently facilitates community reading circles for Mass Humanities and “Act II” talkback conversations at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. Her work focuses on creating opportunities for radical, deep connections within and across communities to promote transformational social change rooted in racial and gender equity. She grew up in Maine and later raised three queer black children (who are now young adults) while attending Harvard, experiences she often wrote about in a biweekly column for Africana.com from 2000-2005, “Brown Eyed Girl”.
Sari Boren is a writer and museum exhibit developer who’s worked on dozens of museum exhibits across the country. Her essays have been published or are forthcoming in Lilith Magazine, Copper Nickel, The Southeast Review, Alimentum, and Hobart, among others. She was awarded a 2016 Emerging Artist Award in Literature from the St. Botolph Club Foundation and a 2014 finalist grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Artist Fellowship Program. Sari teaches creative nonfiction at Grub Street in Boston and is a co-manager of the Four Stories reading series.
Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard and the author of several books of poetry and literary criticism, most recently Advice from the Lights (Graywolf, 2017).
Greg Harris is the Editor of Pangyrus LitMag. He was born in Boston and received his MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University. He has taught writing at Harvard University since 2003. Greg has been recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Oregon’s Regional Arts and Culture Council. His audiorecording “Champion of Hot Peppers” won a 2001 National Parenting Publications Association Gold Medal for storytelling. His translation of Seno Gumira Ajidarma’s novel Jazz, Perfume, and the Incident was published as part of the Modern Library of Indonesia (2012).
Kevin Holden is a poet, critic, and translator. He is the author of six books and chapbooks of poetry, including Solar, which won the Fence Modern Poets Prize, and Birch, which won the 2014 Ahsahta Chapbook Award. His writing has appeared in magazines and journals such as Conjunctions, The New Yorker, Denver Quarterly, Lana Turner, 1913, and Jubilat, and his translations of poetry from French, German, and Russian have been widely published. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Cambridge, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the department of comparative literature at Yale, and has taught at several colleges and universities including Iowa, Bard, Stonehill, and Harvard. He is also an activist, and his political work has been dedicated to three primary areas: to the labor movement, to queer rights and expression, and to ecological activism. He is currently a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and is the writer-in-residence of Kirkland House at Harvard. https://kholden.net/
Timothy Patrick McCarthy (@DrTPM) is an award-winning scholar, educator, and activist who teaches at Harvard University. He is author or editor of five books from the New Press, including Stonewall’s Children: Living Queer History in the Age of Liberation, Loss, and Love, forthcoming in 2018. He is also the host and director of the A.R.T. of Human Rights series. Find him at https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty/timothy-patrick-mccarthy.
Jill McDonough is the author of Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), Where You Live (Salt, 2012), and Reaper (Alice James, 2017). The recipient of three Pushcart prizes and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and Stanford’s Stegner program, she taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program for thirteen years. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Slate, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass- Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online. Her fifth poetry collection, Here All Night, is forthcoming from Alice James Books.