The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Poetry is not a Crime

Join over 150 renowned writers, poets, translators, editors, artists, public intellectuals and cultural workers.

These signers, from Alice Walker and Claudia Rankine to Naomi Klein and Jacqueline Woodson, represent some of the most respected individuals in the arts and literary worlds. For the list of signers, please scroll down.

Dareen Tatour has been charged with incitement to violence based on a poem posted to YouTube. She is one of over 400 Palestinians arrested in the last year for their expressions of resistance to the Israeli Occupation over social media.

She had her first court hearing last month, charged by Israel for Facebook postings and a poem posted to YouTube called “Qawim ya sha’abi, qawimhum” (Resist my people, resist them).

We believe in the rights of artists and writers to openly express their artistic vision and share work freely. The Israeli government’s actions reveal a desire to silence Tatour, part of a larger pattern of Israeli repression against all Palestinians.

Expressing resistance to oppression and Occupation through poetry is by nature non-violent and should not be criminalized by any government.

We, the undersigned – writers, artists, and people of conscience from around the world – believe that poetry is not a crime. We are calling for poet and activist Dareen Tatour to be released immediately from house arrest and for all charges to be dropped.

Add your name:

6486 Total Signers

Who Is Dareen?

Poetry is not a crime. Dareen Tatour awaits a hearing while under house arrest for reciting her poetry.
Over 150 writers and literary artists have signed a letter of support for her, can you? International outcry is critical.

Posted by Jewish Voice for Peace on Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour was arrested on October 11th, and has been detained ever since. Her crime? Poetry. A poem of Tatour’s was posted on Youtube, and her reading of another poem at a Women’s Day commemoration in Nazareth.

Tatour spent the first three months of her detention in three prisons – Kishon, Damon and Hasharon. She was then transferred to house arrest, but the court insisted that she be kept 40 km away from her home because of the ‘danger’ she posed to the public.

This outrage cannot stand, and we are pressuring the Israeli government to free her with a sign-on letter from writers, poets, and artists.

Signers represent some of the most respected and renowned individuals in the arts and literary worlds including nine Pulitzer Prize winners, fourteen recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, an NAACP Image Award winner, many Lambda Literary Award winners, and scores of recipients of the highest U.S. writing, translation, and arts honors: including Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, Obie Awards, PEN/Open Book Awards, National Book Critics Circle Awards, Kenyon Review Award, Pushcart Awards, LA Times Book Awards, and MLA Prizes.


Over 150 renowned writers, poets, translators, editors, artists, public intellectuals and cultural workers are calling for Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour’s release from house arrest. All identifications and affiliations are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsements by any institutions.

Aaminah Shakur
Artist & Poet

Achmat Dangor
Novelist & Poet
Former CEO inter alia of Nelson Mandela Foundation; recipient of the South African Literary Awards (SALA) 2015 Lifetime Achieve Award

Adam Shatz
London review of Books; formerly The Nation

Ahdaf Soueif
Novelist and Translator
Works include: In the Eye of the Sun; The Map of Love; I Think of You and Stories of Ourselves

Aja Monet
Works include Inner-City Chants & Cyborg Cyphers; Youngest individual to win the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe Grand Slam title

Alex Zucker
English PEN Award for Writing in Translation; Typographical Translation Award; National Translation Award; NEA Literature Fellowshop

Alice Walker
Poet and Novelist
Works include: The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, Once, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; National Book Award for Fiction; Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters

Alisa Solomon
Author, Teacher, Dramaturg
Author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of ‘Fiddler on the Roof”

Alison Kinney
Author of Hood (Object Lessons)

Allan Kolski Horwitz
Poet, Playwright, Musician

Alma ganihar
Winner of Best Fringe Play 2008, the Arab-Hebrew Theater

Ammiel Alcalay
Poet, Translator, Professor
Queens College / Graduate Center, CUNY

Amos Gvirtz
Activist, Author
Founder, a founder of Israelis and Palestinians for Non-Violence, chairperson, Committee Against Home Demolitions

Andrew Spieldenner
Hofstra University

Anne Germanacos
In the Time of the Girls

Arun Kundnani
The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, extremism, and the domestic War on Terror

Ashraf Kagee
Author & Academic
Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Winner of the European Union Literary Award in 2012 and the South African Literary Award in 2013 for the novel Khalil’s Journey.

Askold Melnyczuk
Works include: What Is Told; Ambassador of the Dead; House of Widows and Excerpt from Smedley’s Secret Guide to World Literature

Asti Hustvedt
Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Aurora Levins Morales
JVP Artists Council. Works include: Getting Home Alive; Medicine Stories; Remedios; Kindling: Writings on the Body

Ayelet Waldman
Works include Love and Treasure; Red Hook Road; and New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace

Barbara Hammer
Winner of Teddy Award for Best Short Films, Shirley Clarke Avant-Garde Filmmaker Award, Women In Film Award 2006 from the St. Louis International Film Festival

Ben Ehrenrich
Journalist National Magazine Award

Bill Clegg
Literary Agent
Did You Ever Have a Family

Bob Shacochis
Winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and National Book Award for First Work of Fiction

Bongani Kona
Shortlisted for Caine Prize for African Writing

Brenda Hillman
Poet, Translator, Professor
Olivia C. Professor of Poetry, Saint Mary’s College of California. Winner of the LA Times Book Award for Poetry; the Griffin Poetry Prize; Northern California Book Award; Recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships

Burhan Sönmez
Works include North; Sins and Innocents; and Istanbul, Istanbul. Recipient of the Sedat Simavi Literature Prize

Cara Page
Organizer & Writer
Executive Director, Audre Lorde Project

Carl Dennis
Winner of Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA. Works include Another Reason; Callings; Practical Gods; and Meetings with Time

Carolyn Forché
Poet, Editor, Translator
Director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University. Works include Gathering the Tribes, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness; and The Angel of History. Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award

Casey Llewellyn
Writer and theater maker

Chaitali Sen

Chavisa Woods
Fiction writer, Poet, Performance Artist
The Albino Album

Chris Mann
Emeritus Professsor of Poetry, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Cheryl Clarke
Living As A Lesbian

Christian Hawkey
Ventrakl. Founder and director of Pratt Institute’s MFA in Writing program

Claudia Rankine
Playwright Works include Citizen: An American Lyric. Winner, National Book Critics Circle Award; PEN/Open Book Award; PEN/Open Book Award; Los Angeles Times Book Prize; NAACP Image Award; Forward Prize

Colin Dayan
Awards include Danforth, NEH and Guggenheim fellowships

Corey Robin
Professor of Political Science
Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center

Dale Peck
Author, Critic
Works include Sprout. Winner of Lambda Literary Award; Finalist for the Stonewall Book Award. Recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship

Daphne Muse
Writer, Social Commentator and Poet

Darcey Steinke
Works include Up Through the Water; Suicide Blonde; Jesus Saves; and Milk

Darrah Cloud

Dave Eggers
Writer, Editor, Publisher
Works include A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Awards includie PEN Center USA Award of Honor, The New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books, Publishers Weekly’s Best Books, an American Book Award, and two Los Angeles Times Book Awards

David Ball
Winner, French-American Founation 2014 Translation Prize for non-fiction; MLA’s prize for outstanding translation of a literary work in 1995

David Mura
Wrote Turning Japanese (Josephine Miles PEN Oakland Book Award), The Last Incantations, Where the Body Meets Memory.

Deborah Eisenberg
Short Story Writer
MacArthur Fellow; Whiting Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; Winner of the O. Henry Awards; PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

David Herskovits

Dr. Alice Rothchild
Author, Filmmaker
Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion, contributor to Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine; Voices Across the Divide

Edwidge Danticat
Novelist and Short Story Writer
The Story Prize, American Book Awards, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, National Book Critics Circle Award for Memoir/Autobiography

Eliot Weinberger
Primary translator of Octavio Paz into English. Recipient of the National Book Critics Circle prize for criticism. Winner of PEN’s Gregory Kolovakos Award.

Ellen Eisenman

Eve Ensler
Playwright, Performer
The Vagina Monologues; Tony Award, Obie Award; Guggenheim Fellowship

Fady Joudah
Poetry collections include The Butterfly’s Burden; Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me, and Other Poems; and Alight. Winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition

Fiona Khan
Author, Poet, Academic, Environmentalist

Gabeba Baderoon
Author of The Dream in the Next Body; The Museum of Ordinary Life; and A Hundred Silences

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Scholar, Literary Theorist, Feminist Critic
Winner of the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy

Gayatri Gopinath
NYU Professor
Author of Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures

George Beeferman
Composer, Pianist, Improviser
2016 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow

Githa Hariharan
Works include Almost Home, Finding a Place in the World from Kashmir to New York; Convenor, Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; Founding Trustee, Indian Writers’ Forum

Glenn Shaheen
Author of the book Predatory. Winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize

Prof. Haim Bresheeth
Professorial Research Associate
SOAS, London, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Harry Owen

Hayan Charara
Poet, Children’s Book Author
Former president of RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers)

Heather Raffo
Playwright, Actor
Winner of Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Special Commendation. Marian Seldes-Garson Kanin Fellowship (for 9 Parts of Desire) and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show

Heid E. Erdrich
Poet from the Ojibwe nation
Enrolled at Turtle Mountain, North Dakota, USA.

Hilary Plum
They Dragged them through the Streets

Honor Ford-Smith
Playwright, Scholar, Poet
Associate Professor, Community and Environmental Arts, York University

Iain S. Thomas
Author of I Wrote This For You

Dr. Ilana Hammerman
Editor and Writer

Ingrid de Kok

Irene Suico Soriano
Poet, Literary, Film and Video Curator

Isabella Morris

Ishtiyaq Shukri
Writer, South Africa
Author of The Silent Minaret and I See You. Recipient of the European Union Literary Award

Isobel Dixon
Poet, Literary Agent

Jacqueline Brown
Scholar and Writer

Jacqueline Woodson
Writer of Books for Children and Adolescents
Works include Miracle’s Boys; Show Way; Feathers; Brown Girl Dreaming’ and After Tupac and D Foster. Awards include: Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation; Margaret A Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement; Newberry Honor Medal; Coretta Scott King Award; National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Jafar Ramini
Palestinian writer and political analyst living in exile in London

Jaime manrique
Works include Cervantes Street and Our Lives Are the Rivers. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship; Winner of Colombia’s National Poetry Award

jaishri abichandani
Winner of Urban Artists Award, NY; Brooklyn Arts Council BRIC Artist’s Honoree; Enfoco New Works Award

James Schamus
Three time Oscar nominee

Jane Hirshfield
Author of The Beauty: Poems and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (both Knopf, 2015); recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, 2016 Mohr Visiting Poet at Stanford University

Janet McAdams
Winner: American Book Award

Janlori Goldman
Director, Institutional Advancement and Senior Strategic Advisor at the Center for Community Change; Professor of law, Columbia University and NYU; Co-founder, Center for Democracy and Technology

Jason Grote

Jeffrey Sacks
Author, Professor, Translator
Works include: Iterations of Loss: Mutilation and Aesthetic Form, al-Shidyaq to Darwish

Jen Thorpe
Author of The Peculiars

Jennifer Natalya Fink
Professor, Novelist
Author of Burn and Thirteen Fugues

Jessica Hagedorn
Winner of an American Book Award

Joan Morgan
Writer, Cultural Critic

Joan Nestle
Six-time Lambda Literary Award Winner

Jon Soske
Historian, Scholar
Professor of modern African history at McGill University

Jorie Graham
Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Joseph Hutchison
Colorado Poet Laureate

kareem james abu-zeid
Kareem James Abu-Zeid

Karen Finley
Performance Artist

Kathryn Schulz
Writer, Journalist
Author of Being Wrong and winner of a Pulitzer Prize

Kazim Ali
Poet, Essayist, Translator

Ken Chen
Poet and Lawyer
Winner: Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition

Keli Garrett

Kia Corthron
Winner: United States Artist (USA) Fellow in Theater October 2014, Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in Drama

Kimberly Blaeser
Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Kopyt Szczepan
Russian Poet

Laura Tanenbaum
Author, Poet, Teacher

Lauren Berlant
Political Theorist

Leah Horlick
Writer, Poet

LeAnne Howe
Winner of the first the MLA Prize for Studies in Native American Literatures, Cultures, and Language as well as the Oklahoma Book Award and the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award

Leila Buck
Writer, Performer, Educator

Lee Sharkey
Writer, Teacher, Editor
Beloit Poetry Journal

Lisa Duggan
Professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University
Author of The Twilight of Equality: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy

Luc Sante
Writer and Critic
Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada, Whiting Awards, Grammy Award for Best Album Notes

Lucy R. Lippard
Author, Art Critic
Winner, Guggenheim fellowship, Frank Jewett Mather Award for Criticism, 2 NEA grants in criticism

Lynn Nottage
Winner: Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, Guggenheim Grant, PEN/Laura Pels Award, Lucille Lortel Fellowship

Lynne Procope
Founder, louderARTS Project Inc.

Maia Tabet
Arabic-English Literary Translator

Manijeh Nasrabadi

Marcia Lynx Qualey
Editor & Journalist

Margie Orford
President of PEN South Africa, member of PEN’s International Executive Board, Patron–Rape Crisis South Africa, Patron–The Little Hands Trust

Marie Philip

Marilyn Hacker
Poet, Translator, Critic
Winner of the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation and of the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry

Mark Haskell Smith
Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter

Mark Heywood
Executive Director of SECTION27

Martha Collins
Poet, Translater
Author of eight books of poetry and co-translator of four volumes of Vietnamese poetry

Martin Wilson
Author of What They Always Tell us

Mary Baine Campbell
American poet, scholar, and professor
She teaches medieval and Renaissance literature, as well as creative writing, at Brandeis University

Mary Gaitskill
American Writer
Author of The Mare, Nominee National Book Award, PEN/Faulkner Award

Mary Jo Bang

Matthew Shenoda
Winner: American Book Award

meena alexander
Writer, Poet

Minni Bruce Pratt
Poet, Essayist
Winner of the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Lambda Literary Award, Fellowship in Poetry, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award

MJ Kaufman
Winner: ASCAP Cole Porter Prize in Playwriting, Global Age Project Prize, Jane Chambers Prize in Feminist Theatre

Mohja Kahf
Arab-American poet, Literature professor, Author
Works Include: Emails from Scheherazad, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

Molly Crabapple
Artist, Writer, Editor

Molly McGlennen
Author of Fried Fish and Flour Biscuits

Morgan Bassichis
Performance Artist

Moustafa Bayoumi
Writer, Professor
Awards: American Book Award, Best Music Writing 2006, Arab American Book Award

Nancy Kricorian
Winner: Anahid Literary Award, gold medal of the Writers’ Union of Armenia, Daniel Varoujan Award of the New England Poetry Club

Naomi Klein
Journalist, Writer and Filmmaker

Naomi Shihab Nye
Chancellor Emeritus, Academy of American Poets

Naomi W
Playwright, Poet, Screenwriter
Two-time winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Joseph Kesselring Prize, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, and an Obie Award

Natasha Trethewey
Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, US Poet Laureate

Nayland Blake

Nicole Aragi
Literary Agent

Nicole Peyrafitte
Artist Performer

Norman Solomon
Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy

Nyla Matuk
Sumptuary Laws (2012), nominated for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award for a best first book of poetry in Canada and chapbook of poems, Oneiric (2009)

Olga Broumas
Winner: Lambda Literary Award

Olivia Laing
Author, Critic
Winner of fellowships at Yaddo and Macdowell, grants from the Arts Council and the Authors’ Foundation

Orlando White

Patricia Davis
Poet, Essayist, Playwright

Patricia Penn Hilden
Professor Emerita

Patricia Storace
Poet, Novelist
Whiting Award

Paul Stein

Peter Cameron

Peter Trachtenberg
7 Tattoos, The Book of Calamities, and Another Insane Devotion. Recipient of Whiting and Guggenheim Fellowships

Philip Metres
Author of *Sand Opera,* Lannan fellow, member of PEN

phillippa yaa

Pierre Joris
Poet, Translator, Anthologist

Rae Armantrout
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Rafeef Ziadah
Performance Poet, Human Rights Activist
Works include Hadeel

Raja Shehadeh
Writer, Lawyer
Works include Strangers in the House, and Palestinian Walks. Winner of the Orwell Prize

Ramola D
Fiction-Writer, Poet, Editor, Independent Journalist, Blogger, Activist
Author, Temporary Lives (UMass Press, 2009), Invisible Season (WWPH, 1998) NEA Fellow, 2005

Randa Jarrar
Novelist, Essayist
Works includ A map of Home, and Him, Me, Muhammad Ali

Raymond Deane
Composter, Author

Raymond Louw
Vice-President of PEN South Africa

Raymond Suttner
Author and Scholar

Remi Kanazi
Works include Before the Next Bomb Drops: Rising Up From Brooklyn to Palestine

Reuben Woolley
Works include The King is Dead, Dying Notes, Skins. Oneiros Books, Runner up: the Erbacce Poetry competition 2015

Rick Simonson
Chief Bookseller, Elliot Bay Book Company

Rita Dove
U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-95), Pulitzer Prize, National Medal of Arts

Robert Shetterly
Artist and Activist
Works include Americans Who Tell the Truth

Robin D. G. Kelley
Professor of History, UCLA
Winner: PEN Open Book Award, Guggenheim Fellowship

Rochelle Nichols-Solomon
Education Specialist
Founder of The Notebook

Rosemund Handler

Roy chicky arad
Poet, Scriptwriter, Artist
Editor of Maayan Magazine

Ru Freeman
Novelist, Journalist
Works include A Disobedient Girl, On Sal Mal Lane. Winner: Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction

Russell Banks
Novelist, Poet
Works include Continental Drift, Rule of the Bone, Cloudsplitter, The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction. Pulitzer Prize Nominee

Ruti Kantor
Designer and Lecturer in Visual Communication at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and Shenkar College for Design and Engineering in Tel Aviv

Sabrina Mahfouz
Poet, Playwright, & Performer

Saleem Haddad
Fiction Writer, Essayist
Author of Guapa

Sami Shalom Chetrit
Poet, Novelist, Essayist
Works: Phreha Shem Yafe, Shirim Beashdodit, On Ein Habuba

Samiya Bashir
Winner, Lesbian Poetry Award from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Finalist, Lambda Literary Award

Sara Ahmed
Political Theorist
Winner of the FWSA Book Prize

Sarah Porter
Author, Artist
Works Include Lost Voices, Waking Storms, The Twice Lost, Vassa in the Night

Sarah Riggs
Poet, Essayist, Translator, Core Faculty of the Pratt MFA in Writing and Social Justice
Author of Chain of Minuscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling, and seven other books of poetry

Sarah Schulman
Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York-College of Staten Island, Playwright, Novelist.
Winner: Guggenheim Fellowship, NYFA Scholar, Two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships

Shailja Patel
Winner: Sundance Theatre Fellowship, Creation Fund Award from the National Performance Network, Fanny-Ann Eddy Poetry Award from IRN-Africa, Voices of Our Nations Poetry Award, Lambda Slam Championship, Outwrite Poetry Prize; named one of Fifty Inspirational African Feminists by the African Women’s Development Fund

Shelley Ettinger
Vera’s Will

Sinan Antoon
Poet, Novelist, Scholar
Works: Ya Maryam, National Translation Award for Mahmoud Darwish’s In the Presence of Absence

Steven Robins
Professor, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Solmaz Sharif
Teacher, Editor, King’s College
Works: Her Various Scalpels and The, Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love

Susan Abulhawa
Works: Mornings in Jenin, The Blue Between Sky and Water. Best Books Award in Historical Fiction

Susan Wheeler
Works: Ledger and Record Palace, Winner: Guggenheim Fellowship, New York Foundation in the Arts Fellowship

Suzanne Gardinier

Tal Nitzan
Poet, Editor, Translator
Two-time winner of the Ministry of Culture’s Translation Prize and an honorary medal from Chile’s president for translation of Pablo Neruda’s poetry

Tariq Al Haydar
Poet, Journalist, Professor

Tavia Nyong’o
Cultural Critic, Historian, Performance Studies Scholar

Tayari Jones
Fiction writer
Author of Leaving Atlanta and Silver Sparrow. Winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for debut fiction

Tikva Honig-Parnass
Free-lance author and editor, political sociologist, anti-zionist socialist
Author of False Prophets of Peace.

Tony Geballe
Guitarist, musician, composer and sound designer

Traci Kato-Kiriyama
Writer, Performer
Creator of PULLproject, and founder of Tuesday Night Project

Tracy K. Smith
Poet, Professor
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Life on Mars

Viet Thanh Nguyen
Fiction Writer, Professor
Author of The Sympathizer, 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

Zakes Mda
Novelist, Playwright, Painter, Filmmaker

Zehra Naqvi