Occupy Wall Street: Occupy Writers movement grows in numbers, words — Writers, famous and not-so-famous alike, have joined pens to throw their support behind the Occupy Wall Street movement that is protesting against corporate greed. A website listing one simple statement signed by hundreds of authors has expanded in the last few days to also include new writing such as poems and essays by some of the artists.
Original works posted recently to the site include writing by writers such as Francine Prose, Lemony Snicket, D.A. Powell, Duncan Murrell, Anne Waldman, Danica Novgorodoff and Michael Voll, Maureen Miller, Daphne Carr, Alice Walker, Paula Z. Segal, John McManus, David Hollander, Blair Braverman, Scott Sparling, and Joshua Cohen.
According to the Huffington Post, the website began as simply as its design implies and in the same organic way as the movement itself. Taking its inspiration from the “Arab Spring” movements in the Middle East which were organized in large part through the use of social media on the Internet, Occupy Wall Street communicates much the same way. Occupy Writers followed suit in its orgins when Jeff Sharlet wrote a simple message about Occupy Wall Street to author Salman Rushdie on Twitter.
A journalist, author, and professor of non-fiction writing at Dartmouth, Mr. Sharlet did not know Mr. Rushdie but tweeted him, “If there was a letter, would you sign it?” Mr. Rushdie replied right away, according to Mr. Sharlet, “with enthusiasm and ideas.” The journalist sent a letter to everyone in his email address book, and things “snowballed” from there. The site was set up with the help of Brooklyn journalist, Kiera Feldman and publications Tin House and n+1.
The site went live before its originators first intended. Below a single sentence, many writers signed their names. The sentence is:
“We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.”
The idea was to get more well-known names on the list before it was broadcast to the world. However, Occupy Writers decided to show its support, then 200 strong, when protesters on-site stood their ground after a threat of evacuation by city officials. With the 200 names including Pulitzer Prize winners, the list got attention.
Now, the site has over six times that many names and adds more writers’ names daily, entered by volunteers. In addition, writers have added original material such as poems by Alice Walker and a list by Lemony Snicket (“13 Observations Made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance”) that drove so much traffic to the site that it crashed its server. While the server was down, author Neil Gaiman pitched in by hosting the list online to keep it available for those looking for it.
Writers, both newer and established, are listed alphabetically by last name below the statement of support. Next to each name is listed one title from the author’s work.
For more information about Occupy Writers and to see original writing posted there, see the group’s website.