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Risky Writing and the Forces That Silence It

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Date and time
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Author **Richard Hoffman** moderates a panel discussion about the forces in the world of publishing, society at large, and our own psyches that work to silence "risky writing". The importance of politically challenging fiction and poetry throughout history is undeniable: from Turgenev's powerful *A Sportsman's Notebook*, which prompted Czar Alexander II to become the first world leader to free his country's slaves, to the Lost Generation's opposition to fascism; from Ginsburg's *Howl* to Doris Lessing's fiction to James Baldwin's powerful and incisive essays. Has such writing been effectively denied its audience in our day? To what extent are the barriers to risky or oppositional writing real or imagined? What are the long-term societal and cultural dangers of a safe literature, of books as mere entertainment or escape? And what are the individual author and the reader hungry for substance, to do? **PEN New England's Freedom-to-Write Committee**, in partnership with the **Cambridge Forum**, hosts a panel discussion about the forces in the world of publishing, society at large, and our own psyches that work to silence "risky writing," the most dangerous but often most important of an author's works. The panel, moderated by Richard Hoffman, poet, fiction writer, and author of the memoir *Half the House*, features **Carole Horne,** General Manager, Harvard Book Store; **Linda McCarriston,** professor of creative writing and literary arts at the University of Alaska; **Mark Pawlak,** poet and editor of Hanging Loose Press; and** Jill Petty,** editor and small press publisher.

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.
Carole Horne headed the Harvard Book Store buying department from 1978 until July 2007, when she became the General Manager. A booklover since her childhood in Texas, after moving to Boston she went on to get her M.A. in English Literature. She has been active in the bookselling community, having served with the New England Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Association, and the Independent Booksellers Consortium. A frequent speaker at regional and national conventions, she has also been on the faculty of ABA Booksellers School since 1988, teaching in the U.S. and in Central Europe. [Source: http://www.harvard.com/events/press\_release.php?id=2426]
Linda McCarriston has been teaching at the CWLA Department at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 1994. Although a native of Lynn, MA, McCarriston holds dual Irish/U.S.A. citizenship. She has taught at Vermont College, Goddard College and George Washington University and has been a Poetry Fellow at the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College. McCarriston is the author of three highly acclaimed collections: *Talking Soft Dutch*, an AWP Award Series Selection, *Eva-Mary*, winner of the 1991 Terrence Des Pres Prize, and her most recent collection, *Little River*. McCarriston is featured in Bill Moyers' *The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets*, Linda Hogan's *Intimate Nature* and Robert McDowell's *Cowboy Poetry Matters*.
Mark Pawlak is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Official Versions in 2006. The Buffalo Sequence, his first full collection of poems was strongly influenced by the poetry of William Carlos Williams and Cesar Vallejo, and the autobiographical writings of Maxim Gorky.
Jill Petty is an editor and publisher at South End Press, an independent, collectively run, non profit publishing house dedicated to political nonfiction and activist writing.