Who Will Speak for America?

Edited by Stephanie Feldman and Nathaniel Popkin
Book Cover

PB: $19.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1624-7
Publication: Jul 18

Ebook: $19.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1625-4
Publication: Jul 18

256 pages
6 x 9
8 line drawings, 4 halftones

Forty American writers mark a vital new age of protest and possibility

Read the Introduction (pdf).


The editors and contributors to Who Will Speak for America? are passionate and justifiably angry voices providing a literary response to today’s political crisis. Inspired by and drawing from the work of writers who participated in nationwide Writers Resist events in January 2017, this volume provides a collection of poems, stories, essays, and cartoons that wrestle with the meaning of America and American identity. The contributions—from established figures including Eileen Myles, Melissa Febos, Jericho Brown, and Madeleine Thien, as well as rising new voices, such as Carmen Maria Machado, Ganzeer, and Liana Finck—confront a country beset by racial injustice, poverty, misogyny, and violence.

Contributions reflect on the terror of the first days after the 2016 Presidential election, but range well beyond it to interrogate the past and imagine possible American futures.

Who Will Speak for America? inspires readers by emphasizing the power of patience, organizing, resilience and community. These moving works advance the conversation the American colonists began, and that generations of activists, in their efforts to perfect our union, have elevated and amplified.

All royalties will benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center.


"Feldman and Popkin gather a medley of diverse voices to reflect on politics, society, and culture in contemporary America. Essays, poems, fiction, photographs, and cartoons bristle with emotion from contributors responding to issues they consider most urgent: racism, sexism, poverty, and injustice.... A heartfelt and thoughtful collection."
Kirkus Reviews

"Panoramic in scope and exquisite in execution, Who Will Speak for America? is a platform for some of the country's sharpest minds to artistically meditate on life during and after the reign of our Orange Mussolini."
Molly Crabapple, author of Drawing Blood and (with Marwan Hisham) Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War

"At too many points since Trump's election, my mind went to leaving this country. But Who Will Speak for America? is one of the greatest reminders I've had not to stray again. That we are the majority—we who represent a whole spectrum of gender, sexuality, ability, race, ethnicity, nationality, class, and more—and we will take this country forward from the few who want it to go backward. A potent and necessary read for everyone on this planet, really."
Porochista Khakpour, author of Sick: A Memoir and The Last Illusion: A Novel

"This collection of political poetry and prose presents a wide and well-selected array of moderate, progressive, and radical voices united in opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency.... (Carmen Maria) Machado’s poem 'How I Should Have Known Trump Would Be Elected President' is a powerful and succinct reflection on encountering racism and homophobia.... The selections vary in tone... Thanks to this variety, the collection should appeal to an equally wide range of readers who share the authors’ opposition to the 45th president."
—Publisher's Weekly

"Timely and important, Who Will Speak for America? is a powerful anthology of essays, poetry, fiction, and art that grapples with our current political situation. The book’s forty writers and artists explore the question of what it means to be an American in the age of Donald Trump.... (T)he collection contains personal essays on the election’s emotional impact, fictional explorations of possible futures in an increasingly fascistic society, poetry about personal and national identity, and much more. The range of work in this anthology is impressive.... Writing quality is consistently high.... The contributions share a political perspective, but they answer the question posed by the title in consistently surprising and fresh ways. Who Will Speak for America? will inspire thought, conversation, and possibly even political action."
—Foreword Reviews

"All of the works included are powerful and attempt to answer a tough question first asked in a 1976 address to the Democratic National Convention in New York City by Barbara Jordan, the first black woman to give such a speech. Even if poetry isn’t your thing, you will find something in this book that resonates. Standouts include Joy Ladin's 'America in Winter,' which almost reads as a love letter to what America was and could be; Jericho Brown's 'Bullet Points' addressing racial injustice; and Lynn Melnick's 'National Pastime' about sexual violence.... But it's not all despair. Optimism and hope are laced through, peeking like sunlight through blinds."
—Jewish Exponent

Table of Contents

Introduction: In Search of Our Future • Stephanie Feldman and Nathaniel Popkin

Acceptance Speech (Nov 6 2016) • Eileen Myles

Part I: Speaking to America
America in Winter • Joy Ladin

To Our Families
How I Should Have Known Trump Would Be Elected President • Carmen Maria Machado
Teaching after Trump • Melissa Febos
IUD • Liana Finck
20 January 2017 • Herman Beavers
Signs • Diane McKinney-Whetstone
Morning Question in Bed after the Women’s Marches across America • Adam Vines
Four Days • Sarah Rose Etter
Seasons of Grief • Tahneer Oksman
When We See • KC Trommer
Just to Get By • Bassey Ikpi

To Ourselves
Theft • Fran Wilde
Gaslighting • Liana Finck
Three Days • Ken Kalfus
Terror? What Is Terror? • Liana Finck
Four Stories about Fighting • Sandra Newman
The Accused by Khun Srun • Madeleine Thien
Yellow for Ephemeral • Sam J. Miller
The Retinue of Little Abysses • Juan Martinez
Reclaiming Time • Airea D. Matthews

To Our Americas
Year of the Rat • Marc Anthony Richardson
Bullet Points • Jericho Brown
Domestic Terrorism • Cynthia Atkins
The Legend of Big and Fine • Jericho Brown
Who Has the Right to Tell This Story? How Art and Artists Can Help and Harm People Experiencing Addiction • Liz Moore
National Pastime • Lynn Melnick
Strange Bedfellows • Nancy Hightower
I Enter the Real Memory • Alice Notley

Part II: Speaking for America
Who Will Speak for Whom, America? • Edwin Torres

For the Nation
On Being American • Samira Ahmed
The Betweens • Cynthia Arrieu-King
The Alternatives • Liana Finck
Riddle • Jericho Brown
A Simple Letter to My American Friends (Una Sencilla Carta a Mis Amigos Gringos) • Carlos José Pérez Sámano
Untitled: A Comedy • Herman Beavers
Pigskin, Beauty, Death, and a Huggable Rat • Linh Dinh
America (after Allen Ginsberg) • Craig Santos Perez
U.S. v. T.H.E.M. • Liana Finck
I Want Milk, I Want Honey • Mohja Kahf
Blood and Spirit • Cynthia Dewi Oka
América • Ana-Maurine Lara

For the Future
Life After • Adrienne Celt
The Gates to Freedom • Rene Denfeld
Struggle • Liana Finck
The End of the Incarnation • Malka Older
If You Can Keep It • Veronica Scott Esposito
Charlie and the Aliens • Ganzeer
Dreaming in Crayon • Craig Santos Perez
Because Change Was the Ocean and We Lived by Her Mercy • Charlie Jane Anders


About the Author(s)

Stephanie Feldman is the author of the novel The Angel of Losses, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection and winner of the Crawford Fantasy Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, Electric Literature, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Maine Review, The Rumpus, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn.

Nathaniel Popkin is the author or co-author of five books, including the novel Everything is Borrowed and Philadelphia: Finding the Hidden City (Temple). He is a literary critic and essayist whose work appears in the Wall Street Journal, Kenyon Review, and other publications. He is the fiction review editor at Cleaver Magazine.