FLINT, Mich. – Organizers of the Flint Festival of Writers announced today that renowned literary institution PEN America will partner with the festival in September 2019 to host a free workshop with 2019 PEN/Osterweil Award for Poetry Honoree Jonah Mixon-Webster.
Mixon-Webster, who grew up in Flint, is the author of the poetry collection Stereo(TYPE) from Ahsahta Press. The book explores the intersection of space and body, race and region, and sexuality and class and wrestles with the ongoing crisis in Flint.
His workshop, “Art Activism and Ecopoetics,” will encourage participants to see themselves as art activists with voices capable of dismantling dominant narratives. The workshop will take place at 11 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Ferris Wheel, 615 Saginaw St. It is open to the public.
PEN America – whose membership comprises more than 7,300 writers and allies across the country – stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.
It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
“Our PEN Across America initiative provides resources to support a vibrant array of activity across the country, seeking to engage a community of writers and readers and an active constituency of advocates who can promote the urgency of transcending borders of all kinds, who can uplift and defend the voices that have been overlooked or silenced, and who are empowered to foster new connections and insights in service of our mission to defend the liberties that make free expression possible,” said Katie Zanecchia, PEN America’s national outreach program director.
“We are committed to championing literary excellence from local writers and about local issues, and inspiring conversations of consequence to address the confluence of narratives, facts, and beliefs contributing to this moment of deep division in the United States,” she said.
Festival planners said they are thrilled about PEN America’s participation in this year’s event.
“To have Jonah as a workshop leader and PEN America as a workshop partner is an empowering honor for the Flint Festival of Writers,” said James Schirmer, festival planning committee member and chair of the University of Michigan-Flint’s English Department. “The planning committee and my fellow co-sponsors are excited to see how these important contributors will help in fulfilling our mission of highlighting and supporting new and current writers in Flint and the surrounding area.”
The Flint Festival of Writers will be held Sept. 13-14 at the Ferris Wheel. Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan-Flint English Department, Gothic Funk Press and East Village Magazine, the free event will be headlined by LaTashia M. Perry, the Flint-born author of successful children’s books including Hair Like Mine, Skin Like Mine and, most recently, Dreams Like Mine. Perry will read from her work at 5 p.m. Sept. 14. A time to meet the author and purchase books will follow.
The event begins Sept. 13 with a kick-off party during the Flint Art Walk, featuring the music of the Katie Stanley Band. The festival continues Saturday with a full slate of workshops and panels. A book fair on the first floor of the Ferris Wheel will also take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, and a write-in space will provide a place for visitors to get their creative juices flowing in the company of other creatives.
More information on the festival is available at.flintwriters.org.