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 Nationwide Artistic Responses to the September 11 Tragedy and its Aftermath

**All material in this section is archived.  It was material collected in the immediate aftermath of 9/11/2001 and reflects the period of that time.  For responses to political art in 2003 and later, follow the link to Artists Respond to the Political Present.**

Events | Visual Art | Performance, Music, Dance | Film, Video, TV | Words | Audio | Comics


Essays, Reportage, Diaries, Eyewitness Reports:

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood publishes reportage, personal essays and riffs on particular places in New York City. The site has been running since June, 2000, but just about everything they've been publishing recently has involved the events of 9/11. The book, Before and After: Stories from New York collects some of these. Makor (NYC) presents a reading of Before and After on June 12, 2002, with Luc Sante, Vince Passaro, Elizabeth Frank, Phillip Lopate et al. Hosted by Thomas Beller. On Wednesday, June 26 at 7pm, The Open City Reading Series presents Greg Purcell, contributor to Before & After at KGB Bar (85 E. 4th Street, NYC).

The American Scholar's current issue features essays on September 11 by writers, poets, and critics, such as Adam Gopnik, Jonathan Rosen, and Penelope Lively.

The Arts Paper, a a bimonthly journal of arts and culture put out by the Boulder Arts Resource. Their December 2001-January 2001 issue was dedicated to the victims of 9-11-01 and to the innocent people of Afghanistan and includes poems, images and articles.

Jewish Culture News: Art & Adversity: The National Foundation for Jewish Culture has dedicated their Spring 2002 newsletter to collecting "reflections from Jewish sources in response to September 11th." Includes Thane Rosenbaum on "the need for silence," an excerpt from David Roskie's The Literature of Destruction: Jewish Responses to Catastrophe, and Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett's address to the Council of American Jewish Museums. Call NJFC at 212.629.0500.

The Living Issue: A constantly revolving online dialogue of essays and images on a broad range of topics related to September 11 & sponsored by Creative Nonfiction, an internationally distributed literary journal based in Pittsburgh. In 2003, Creative Nonfiction will be publishing the best of these essays in a commemorative issue.

After the World Trade Center: (Routledge, April 2002) "Following the disaster, a desire not to speak ill of the dead cloaked the fact that most urbanists…loathed the fallen buildings. Now, debates about rebuilding downtown have made them vocal again. Many of these 20 essays criticize the towers for destroying downtown neighborhoods and symbolizing the city's transformation into a monoculture based on speculation and finance" (taken from Michelle Goldberg's Time Out New York books roundup).

Books on 9/11: Publishers Weekly estimates that books being published around or after the anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks to be as high as 65 to 150 titles. They are books that run the gamut from historical examinations of the roots of today's terrorism ("Militant Islam Reaches America" by Daniel Pipes) to picture books about quilts inspired by the World Trade Center ("America From the Heart," edited by Karey Bresenhan); from closely observed accounts of the recovery effort at ground zero ("American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center" by William Langewiesche) to eclectic meditations on the future of civil liberties in the post-9/11 world ("It's a Free Country," edited by Danny Goldberg, Victor Goldberg and Robert Greenwald). "The September 11 Photo Project," edited by Michael Feldschuh, and "Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs." Books about artistic responses to 9/11 has already begun to appear, including "Poetry After 9/11," several collections of work by comic-book artists ("9-11: Artists Respond" and "9-11: Emergency Relief") and multiple anthologies" famiscellaneous writings (most notably, "September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond," "Afterwords: Stories and Reports From 9/11 and Beyond," "110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11" and "Before & After: Stories From New York"). Meanwhile, in anthologies like "How Did This Happen?," edited by James F. Hoge Jr. and Gideon Rose, and "The Age of Terror," edited by Strobe Talbott and Nayan Chanda, scholars have begun to try to situate this seemingly anomalous event in a historical and political context. Several new books – including "The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the F.B.I. and C.I.A. Failed to Stop It," by John Miller and Michael Stone with Chris Mitchell; "The Age of Sacred Terror," by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon; and "Breakdown," by Bill Gertz – examine the failures on the part of the American government to anticipate the terrorist attacks, and a forthcoming book by Bob Woodward, "The Nation at War," will take a behind-the-scenes look at the administration's response to 9/11 and its war on terror.

"American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center: The Atlantic Monthly reporter William Langewiesche spent more than five months at the World Trade Center site, where he had complete access to meetings, files and ground zero. Beginning with the July/August 2002 issue and continuing for three consecutive issues, The Atlantic Monthly will publish the 60-000 word article about the culture inside the perimeter of the most horrific disaster zone in American history.

Firehouse: David Halberstam's new book details the fate of Engine 40, Ladder 35 (located at 66th & Amsterdam) during the World Trade Center attacks. Of 13 firefighters who went out on September 11, only one came back. The book vividly sketches the lives of the fallen men and the world they lived in. (Hyperion, May 29, 2002).

The New Yorker: First reactions by John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, and Susan Sontag; Art Spiegelman on his cover of the World Trade Center towers; photographs by Gilles Peress, Joel Meyerowitz, and Susan Meiselas; and more.

The Bearing Witness Project of the New York Writers Workshop. Free Creative Writing Workshops developed in consultation with mental health professionals for individuals and organizations who wish to write and share about Sept. 11th and its aftermath in a supportive, creative community. Participants have the opportunity to archive their material with us. For workshop information: [email protected], or call Rita Gabis, Project Coordinator 212-358-9105.

09/11 8:48 AM: Documenting America's Greatest Tragedy: The first book on the terrorist attacks of September 11 edited by in conjunction with the NYU Department of Journalism. The writing includes eyewitness accounts, on-the-ground reportage, personal essays, political argument, public debate, and oral history.

The Arts Rebuild New York Journal: Members of the cultural community were invited by the Alliance for the Arts to contribute a brief statement about the events of September 11th and their impact on the cultural community and life in New York City.

Dichotomy: It Was a Matter of Time and Place: Everyone remembers what they were doing and where they were when the planes hit the WTC and the Pentagon. This web project is not only an attempt to document these moments but to juxtapose our shared experiences. Witness accounts (those who witnessed the disasters indirectly) are paired side-by-side with Participant accounts (those who were more directly affected: survivors, those who lost loved ones, etc). The pairings are randomly generated and constantly changing. Dichotomy is a Finalist in the Art/Culture category at the South by Soutwest Festival in Austin.

All Available Boats: Harbor Voices & Images 9.11.01: The South Street Seaport Museum in NYC has embarked on an ambitious project to document the response to the events of September 11, 2001 by New York's waterfront and port workers. In recognition of the importance of this story and its relationship to New York Port history the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the museum a prestigious emergency grant to prepare an exhibit on the subject. The exhibit, All Available Boats: Harbor Voices & Images 9.11.01, is scheduled to open in March 2002. The Daily Digest of Arts and Cultural Journalism has a collection of arts stories related to the terrorism acts in the United States on September 11. Stories are loosely organized by topic and arranged in chronological order within the topic categories.


Albert Mobilio and John Yau, at a reading at KGB Bar (NYC) on April 30, 2002, read Sept. 11-related poems that will appear in an upcoming anthology.

Denver Butson's poems hauntingly remind us of what life was like before September 11.

Extravagant Spirits: Maya Angelou has written Extravagant Spirits, a September 11 tribute poem.

Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets (Melville House Publishing 9/02) edited by Dennis Loy Johnson and Valerie Merians with an introduction by Alicia Ostriker. A reading by contributors will take place on Wednesday, September 11, 2002 at 6:00 PM in the Mid-Manhattan Library (455 Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, 6th Floor Conference Rooms, NY).

110 Stories: To be published in September 2002 by NYU Press, this 9/11 anthology is edited by Ulrich Baer.

Long Shot's 20th Anniversary, due out in April (2002), includes poems related to 9/11 by writers such as Edwin Torres, Tom Obrzut and Eve Packer.

September 11: Nobel Laureate poet Wislawa Szymborska has written a poem called "September 11" about a photograph of the people who "jumped from the burning floors" of the World Trade Center hand in hand. The poem has been translated from Polish into English by Clare Cavanaugh, who read it on March 13, 2002, in "An Evening in Celebration of Contemporary Polish Poetry" at Cooper Union in NY.

People's Poetry Project: Add a line to CRISIS, a collaborative poem being sponsored online by the People's Poetry Project. Or read some of the poems that appeared all over New York City in the weeks following the World Trade Center Attack. CRISIS is now on view at the New York Historical Society's Missing exhibition (March 12-July 7, 2002).

Suheir Hammad is a female Palestinian-American poet from Brooklyn, NY, whose poem, "First Writing Since," about the terror attacks, has been circulating on the web and was featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

For Immediate Release: In the wake of September 11, poet Randy Roark has begun "For Immediate Release" (FIR), an internet-only literary journal modeled after the important Sixties journal "The Floating Bear," edited by Diane Di Prima and Amiri Baraka. FIR includes work on the WTC attack by poets as diverse as Anne Waldman, Thich Nhat Hanh and Ira Cohen.

11 September 2001, the Response of Poetry: Jan Carroll's weblog offers a substantial amount of collected poems written in response to September 11; articles on poetry and politics; interviews with poets about September 11; and musings on the role of art and aesthetics in times of tragedy.