Whitney Bashaw, Editor-in-Chief
Writers have begun wielding their verbal epees—their pens—as weapons for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protest. Occupywriters.com is the brainchild of a group of writers wishing to express solidarity the best way they know how: in poignant vignettes and poetry. Their stated intention is displayed in large print on the website, “We, the undersigned writers and all who will join us, support Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.”
The list of writers who have expressed solidarity is long and is growing longer daily. While most are fringe-authors, some notable and well-known authors have signed it and submitted work as well. Lemony Snicket, penname of the writer who authored the popular children’s books “Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events” wrote thirteen observations about OWS “from a discreet distance.” Short, to the point and humorous with that lamentable truth that makes you want to grind your teeth, his aphorisms shed decisive light on the concerns that encompass the movement, like number four: “People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.” And ten: “It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks and an impressive view.”
Anne Waldman, a poet who recently spoke at SUNY Oneonta, submitted several poems and a short observation, exploring the elements of control that OWS is fighting against. The philosopher Judith Butler submitted a speech that she read to protestors at Zuccotti Park last week, and fantasy/science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin took notes on the occupation in Portland: “Having a huge urban university just up the street as a supply of young, unwearied relay Occupiers is helpful.”
The website has inspired a sister site, Occupyfilmmakers.com, which has already signed on a long list of off-the-beaten path directors and producers. While you won’t see Steven Spielberg anywhere, the website’s list does stand as a symbol to the snowball effect the OWS movement seems to currently possess.
It’s been a month and half since the first makeshift sleeping structures were assembled in Zuccotti Park and though media attention waxes and wanes depending on the arrest-count on a given day, the work of these writers in solidarity concretizes the movement’s historical and cultural moment. They are creating a narrative that will stand as a testament to these events, whatever their outcome.
illustration by Mary Cheung