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As part of this year’s World Voices Festival, PEN teamed up with documentary poet, global labor activist, and 2010 Guggenheim Fellow Mark Nowak for a series of weekend poetry workshops with members of the Domestic Workers Union. The workshops will culminate during the festival in the group’s first public event on May 5 at the New School, which will feature a 10-minute documentary clip about the DWU workshops, readings by a number of the domestic workers participating in the sessions, and a public conversation with the audience.

(via » Blog Archive Domestic Workers United Workshop -

Unified by the motto, “We have a dream that one day, all work will be valued equally,” Domestic Workers United is a guild of New York nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers, organizing for power, respect, and fair labor standards. At PEN World Voices, they emerged from a five-month writing workshop led by documentary poet, global labor activist, and 2010 Guggenheim Fellow Mark Nowak.

A video of this reading can be viewed on the PEN America website.



When I peddled eggs in East Pittsburgh,
I’d meet up with many people
who worked at Westinghouse.
They greeted me like an old and trusted friend.
They’d say, “Margaret, if you tell us
those eggs are fresh, we know they’re fresh.”
I thought: It’s good to have
that kind of reputation. It’s good
to be able to look people in the face,
to shake a worker’s hand
with no need to apologize.
from “Capitalization” by Mark Nowak: poet, social critic, and instructor at Workers Justice Center. Hear the writers of WJC read at PENFest14