Only days before Donald Trump becomes president, American poets and writers gathered in more than fifty cities across the country this weekend for what they called a "counter-inaugural demonstration" against the new Trump administration.
In Boston, twenty-five notable authors, poets and community leaders gathered at the Boston Public Library to read historic and contemporary pieces on democracy and free speech. MIT's Helen Elaine Lee read James Baldwin, while author James Carroll read a poem from Jesuit anti-war activist Daniel Joseph Berrigan. UMass Boston professor and poet Krysten Hill recited her own work, as did poets Jabari Asim and Martín Espada. Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley read Maya Angelou's "On the Pulse of Morning".
Boston author Rob Arnold read part of a poem by Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who is in prison in Saudi Arabia for his writings. Arnold says he chose Fayadh because he feels the new administration poses a similar threat to free speech.
"Just the way that the President-elect has conducted his relationship with the Press, his relationship with journalists who are trying to ask legitimate questions of him is, frankly, terrifying," Arnold said.
Heather Hughes, a local poet herself, helped organize the event, "to bring together not only people's original work," Hughes said, "but also to read and share inspirational work from decades past and historical documents that uphold those principles of Democracy and community."
Boston author Jennifer Haigh read a poem by Kim Addonizio to illustrate her concerns about what the new administration means for women.
"This particular poem, it's an angry poem and it's a shocking poem. The poem is called 'Dead Girls' and I'm reading it because I'm concerned about what our political decisions mean for women's health and women's lives," Haigh said.
Hundreds of people turned out for the event at the Boston Public Library.