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  • About as Fast as This Car Will Go

    BY Shawn Vestal
    He walked into the living room, looking back at me every so often, lifting objects and replacing them, opening doors, nudging things on the tables, showing me how silently he could move through...

  • To Encounter Ocean Power

    BY Layli Long Soldier
    I can’t shake the image of young students—the gears of their minds at work—as they watch and take account, assess what it means to pull books from shelves, set them into the shadows of boxes, and...

  • The PEN Ten with Sean Wilsey

    BY PEN America
    Suddenly seeing myself as a writer-of-facts changed the way I looked at reality—so it was sort of a double-edged occasion. Guaranteed impediment to having a good time: knowing you'll have to...

  • On Beauty: Banning Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye

    BY Laila Lalami
    The narrative that Pecola absorbs from the world around her is simple. It tells her that to be beautiful is to be white. It shapes her identity at the same time as it threatens it.

PEN America Blog »

October 31, 2014

I told the police I had fallen asleep at the wheel, but really, I saw them coming and swerved toward them on an impulse, just to see what it felt like.

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October 29, 2014

[W]riters have to write, even under threat. I think often of Tahar Djaout’s words: “If you speak, you die / If you are silent, you die / So speak and die.”

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October 29, 2014

Today I pumped in the Atlanta airport women’s restroom / At the sink while ppl walked past / And I wore one of those bras for hands free pumping / Which also meant I wore a tinge of shame I knew I shouldn’t feel

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October 24, 2014

I sometimes used to describe my time in Montreal as an unmitigated catastrophe, but that was untrue. I got a novel out of it.

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October 23, 2014

He "died" "in the" battle, then fear / "And" sadness infected my milk / "My" baby "died," "on" "the" boardwalk / I "died" when "you" / Turned "your" car into "the" crowd, "I / Died" "in" a cage

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October 22, 2014

I think that publishers and editors have a great deal of responsibility, but I’m not sure that writers do. Write the best book you possibly can. That’s it.

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October 20, 2014

Is the conscience the soul’s surveillance of the self? When are observations neutral? Does a writer, even without knowing, intend to “use” observations for the benefit of the writing in a way that is markedly different from the way advertisers track the inclinations of internet users in order to sell them something?

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October 17, 2014

There is no time in this slow eternity / He makes a cup of black coffee, / and puts on a Fairouz song

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October 15, 2014

First an army destroys a temple, the limbs of men and statues are demolished, their names disappear, the soldiers become a hero, then a number, then a statue is re-erected to pay homage to all the fallen, a parade drums by. Fireworks deafen our heads, if we have them

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October 14, 2014

I fear it is fashionable for many writers to think that they have to be right. I want to be wrong but true. Our task is to be human.

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