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Howard Zinn and the Freedom to Write

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Date and time
Sunday, October 03, 2010

PEN-New England pays tribute to Howard Zinn's legacy of support for small presses and young writers with a panel discussion featuring writers and editors reflecting on his influence on their careers and their publishing houses. In the 60's Zinn's defiant writing built and extended the anti-war movement from shore to shore. His legacy of anti-establishment books, from the landmark *The People's History of the United States* to his final work, *Three Plays: the Political Theater of Howard Zinn*, he gave voice, credit, and visibility to those most often denied their voice in history, in their communities, in their own lives.

Richard Hoffman is author of Half the House: a Memoir, and the poetry collections, Without Paradise and Gold Star Road, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. His work, both verse and prose, has appeared in Agni, Ascent, Harvard Review, Hudson Review,Poetry, Witness and other magazines. He has been awarded several fellowships and prizes, most recently a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in fiction, and The Literary Review's Charles Angoff Prize for the essay. He is currently Writer-in-Resident at Emerson College.
Helene Atwan has been director of Beacon Press since October 1995. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Virginia. She began her career in publishing at Random House in 1976, and has worked at Alfred A. Knopf, Viking Press; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Simon and Schuster. Her acquisitions at Beacon include Gayl Jones’s *The Healing*, a National Book Award Finalist, Wendy Kaminer’s *Worst Instincts*, Danielle Ofri’s *Singular Intimacies*, Rashid Khalidi’s *Resurrecting Empire* and *The Iron Cage*, Meredith Hall’s *Without A Map*, as well as books by journalists Mitchell Zuckoff, Philip Winslow, Mark Hyman, and Beth Whitehouse, and nine volumes of poetry by Pulitzer-prize winner Mary Oliver. She served for eight years on the board of PEN-New England and is the Administrator of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.
Born in Brooklyn in 1957, Martín Espada was once called by Sandra Cisneros "the Pablo Neruda of North American authors." A poet, editor, essayist, and translator, he has published more than 16 collections and has earned a reputation as a writer of passionate social and political conviction, as well as intense lyricism. When asked about his reasons for writing, he responded, "Compulsion. It feels urgent. There are ghosts that tell me to write…I'm talking about the interplay of imagination and memory and ancestors, both literal and figurative." Espada’s poetry is informed by those ancestors and by his own past self. In “Who Burns for the Perfection of Paper,” he reminds us of the countless nameless, faceless workers whose efforts go unacknowledged and uncelebrated. Edward Hirsch has written of Espada, "He stands up for what Whitman calls 'the rights of them the others are down upon' and writes a fiery, impure, earth-tinged, human-centered poetry." Espada’s awards include the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Robert Creeley Award, and the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award. Formerly a tenant lawyer, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches creative writing and the work of Pablo Neruda.
Marc Favreau is the editorial director of The New Press. Authors he has worked with include Ira Berlin, Eric Hobsbawm, Lloyd Gardner, Nelson Lichtenstein, Ellen Schrecker, and Patricia Sullivan. A co-editor of *Remembering Slavery*, he lives in New York City.
Named of the UTNE Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World", Dave Zirin writes about the politics of sports for the Nation Magazine. He is their first sports writer in 150 years of existence. Zirin is also the host of Sirius XM Radio's popular weekly show, Edge of Sports Radio. He has been called "the best sportswriter in the United States," by Robert Lipsyte. He writes regularly for SLAM Magazine, the Progressive, and is a regular op-ed writer for the Los Angeles Times. The author of four books about the history and business of sports, Zirin contributed *A People's History of Sports in the United States*, to Howard Zinn's *People's History* series for the New Press. As former Yankee and Ball Four author Jim Bouton said of this work, "Finally, the long-awaited prequel to all the sports books you've ever read. Put this first in the line of sports books on your shelf. It will help make sense of all the others." Zirin has brought his blend of sports and politics to multiple television and radio programs including ESPN's Outside the Lines, MSNBC's *Countdown with Keith Olbermann*, ESPN Classic, MSNBC's *The Rachel Maddow Show*, Al-Jazeera's *The Riz Khan Show*, C-SPAN's BookTV, *Democracy Now* with Amy Goodman, National Public Radio's *Talk of the Nation* and *All Things Considered*; Air America's 'On the Real' with Chuck D; The Laura Flanders Show; Stars and Stripes Radio; Pacifica's Hard Knock Radio, and many others.