The Arty Semite

Writers Sign Up for Occupy Wall Street

By Ezra Glinter

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images

Occupy Wall Street has its share of misspelled, ungrammatical placards, but the ongoing protests in Lower Manhattan — and similar efforts around the country and the world — are receiving a strong dose of literary acumen. In addition to efforts such as The Occupy Wall Street Library and The Occupied Wall Street Journal, a growing list of writers have signed on to Occupy Writers, a website collecting the names and literary contributions of authors, editors and other writerly types who support the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The effort was spearheaded on October 9 by journalists Kiera Feldman and Jeff Sharlet, after a Twitter exchange between Sharlet and Salman Rushdie, one of the first signatories. The list now includes over 200 writers including Margaret Atwood, David Bezmozgis, William Deresiewicz, Barbara Ehrenreich, Sasha Frere-Jones, Neil Gaiman, Jerome Rothenberg and Ayelet Waldman. A number of Forward contributors are also represented, including both Feldman and Sharlet (who is also the former editor of the Yiddish Book Center’s magazine, Pakn Treger).

Sharlet told the Huffington Post that the wide range of writers indicates the broad support the movement is receiving. “There are radical writers on this list, but there are also the kind of writers who maybe Bloomberg takes their books with him on a vacation to the beach,” he said. “We wanted to say, ‘Look, you’ve been outflanked. The movement draws as much from the people you consider to be your base.’”

Although the list of signatories is being screened, Sharlet said that the aim is include both the obscure as well as the famous. “There’s a way in which status dissolves in the Occupy movement, and we like the idea that that would be reflected in the site, so you start with this group of established writers, and then it democratizes. The person who has a tiny book that nobody’s ever read, and their name begins ‘Ru-‘, they’re next to Salman Rushdie,” he said.

In addition to signatures, the site also features contributions including two initial pieces by Francine Prose and D.A. Powell. Prose writes:

In Zuccotti Park I felt a kind of lightening of a weight, a lessening of the awful isolation and powerlessness of knowing we’re being lied to and robbed on a daily basis and that everyone knows it and keeps quiet and endures it; the terror of thinking that my own grandchildren will suffer for whatever has been paralyzing us until just now. I kept feeling these intense surges of emotion—until I saw a placard with a quote from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” And that was when I just lost it and stood there and wept.

Not to sound cynical, but I smell an anthology down the road.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Occupy Writers, Occupy Wall Street, Kiera Feldamn, Jeff Sharlet

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.