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THESE ARE STRANGE TIMES, MY DEAR: Wendy Willis and Steven Wax on Protest Rights
February 28 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
On Thursday, February 28 at 7 pm, come celebrate the release of Wendy Willis’s new book These Are Strange Times, My Dear. Wendy will discuss protest rights with special guest Steven Wax.
Wendy Willis is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Winner of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize, she has published two books of poetry and in journals, including New England Review, Oregon Humanities, Poetry Northwest, The Rumpus, Zócalo Public Square, and ZYZZYVA. Willis is a lawyer, the executive director of the Deliberative Democracy Consortium, and the founder and director of Oregon’s Kitchen Table.
Steven Wax serves as Legal Director of the Oregon Innocence Project. He helped launch the Project in the fall of 2014 when he retired after 31 years as the Federal Defender for the District of Oregon. A 1970 cum laude graduate of Colgate University and 1974 cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he was a key part of the Brooklyn, N.Y. District Attorney’s prosecution of David Berkowitz, a.k.a.”The Son of Sam,” where he worked from 1975-1979. From 1979-1983, Wax served as the Public Defender for Broome County, N.Y.
Wax and his Federal Defender team successfully represented six men formerly held as “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo. He has taught at the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College, serves as an ethics prosecutor for the Oregon State Bar, and lectures throughout the country. Wax, elected in 2012 as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, has been honored for his work by, among other groups, the NACDL (2004 President’s Commendation), American Jewish Committee (Oregon Chapter 2007 Judge Learned Hand Award), ACLU (Oregon 2007 Civil Rights Award), Federal Bar Association (National 2010 Hon. Sarah Hughes Civil Rights Award and Oregon 2010 Hon. James M. Burns Professionalism Award), American Constitution Society (Oregon Chapter 2014 Justice Hans Linde Civil Liberties Award). In 2014 he was given lifetime achievement awards by the Historical Society for the District of Oregon and the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association. Wax was invited to present the 2009 Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Peace Lecture at Oregon State University. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. Kafka Comes To America, Wax’s book about his work representing Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield and the men in Guantanamo, has won four national awards, the prestigious ABA Silver Gavel and the Independent Publishers Award Gold Medal for Social Science, Eric Hofer Award for Memoir, and Foreward Book of the Year, Bronze Medal in Social Science.
About These Are Strange Times, My Dear:
Wendy Willis is one of our country’s sharpest observers of politics, art, and the American spirit. Her view is honed by her place as a mother, a poet, and when necessary, as an activist. Together, the essays in These Are Strange Times, My Dear work within that largely unmapped place where the heartbreaks and uncertainties of one’s inner life brush up against the cruelties and responsibilities of politics and government.
Her pointed and wide-ranging essays explore everything from personal resistance to the rise of political podcasts, civic loneliness to the exploitation of personal data, public outrage to the opioid crisis—all with a poet’s gift of finding the sacred in the mundane, a hope in the dark. Even the titles to her essays hint at the lyrical complexities within: “A Million People on One String: Big Data and the Poetic Imagination,” “Peeping in the Crack under the Goddamn Door: One Citizen’s Reflections on The Phenom that is S-Town 94,” “Reckoning with the Bros: some rich asshole, Robert Bly and Swimming in the Sea of Grief,” “I Hear the Place That Can’t Be Named: One Writer’s Reflections on the Right to Be Forgotten.”
For many, it feels as if Americans have never before been involved in a situation where every day brings a loud new threat to our public order and to our commonwealth. Our executive branch is demanding our scrutiny on a daily, even hourly, basis. Again and again, Wendy Willis returns to the demanding question posed by Czech writer, activist, and politician Vaclav Havel: What does it mean to live in truth? As a way to hear this question and to begin an answer, Willis circles around it, to realize her duties and reactions to truth and power as a woman, a mother, a lawyer and a poet—as an American.
Photo by Chris Slupski on Unsplash