A PEN Speak Out

Sustaining New York as America's Literary and Intellectual Capital

This open mic event featured brief orations from New York City-based writers and cultural influencers on what needs to be done to sustain and nurture New York City as a hub for intellectual and literary life.

Hosted by PEN America


  • Meena Alexander

    Author & Educator

  • Jennifer Benka

    Executive Director, Academy of American Poets

  • Susan Bernofsky

    Author & Translator

  • Margaret Carson


  • Selene Castrovilla

    Children's and Young Adult's Book Author

  • Henry Chang


  • Tina Chang

    Poet Laureate, Brooklyn

  • Vicki Cobb

    Author & Founder, iNK Think Tank

  • Martha Cooley

    Author & Educator

  • Masha Hamilton

    Journalist & Author

  • Ed Hirsch

    Author & Educator

  • Marie Howe

    Poet Laureate, New York State

  • Tina Jordan

    Vice President, Association of American Publishers

  • Linda Marshall 

    Children's Book Author

  • Maaza Mengiste


  • Richard Nash

    Publisher, Red Lemonade

  • John Oakes

    Co-Founder, OR Books

  • Sergio De La Pava


  • Alice Quinn

    Executive Director, Poetry Society of America

  • Rob Spillman

    Editor-in-Chief, Tin House magazine

  • Monica Strauss


  • Annalyn Swan

    Journalist & Editor

  • Philip Turner

    Publishing Executive

  • Executive Director, PEN American Center


Event Highlights:

"I urge incoming Mayor de Blasio to include a poet on his communications team, a sculptor on the housing authority, a street artist on the city planning commission, and a novelist on the board of corrections, a songwriter on the landmarks preservation commission..."

- Masha Hamilton, Author

"I ask the new de Blasio administration to devote more funding to schools with the lowest literacy rates."

- Tina Chang, Poet Laureate, Brooklyn

"My hope is that the de Blasio administration will follow through on its promise to ensure access to arts education."

- Martha Cooley, Author & Educator

"It's of little use if the city has a diverse population if the population of its prisons is monochromatic."

- Sergio de la Pava, Novelist



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