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92nd Street Y Announces the First Annual #wordswelivein
A Global Celebration of the Words Around Us
July 11-18, 2016

New York, NY: June 20, 2016 – Inspired by Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, and taking place while his First Folio tours the U.S., 92nd Street Y announces the first annual #wordswelivein, a global celebration of the words around us. The initiative invites people around the globe to share images of words they come into contact with every day – from messages on billboards and street signs to handwritten graffiti and word-based wall murals – to tell a collective story about our lives, cultures and communities.

This new interactive, crowd-sourced initiative from 92Y culminates July 11-18, with live events in New York and elsewhere, from photo-centric “instawalks” to scavenger hunts to poetry readings and meet-ups, as well as social media campaigns and online content, both curated and crowd-sourced. On July 14, at 92Y, Elevator Repair Service (Gatz, 2010) provides a sneak peek of its new project, with an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and a discussion following the performance.

“92nd Street Y has been a home to writers, readers and the written word for more than a century,” said Ava Lehrer, who is leading the 92Y #wordswelivein team. “We’re inviting people of all ages and backgrounds, wherever they are, to provide a little window on to their lives by sharing words and images. We hope to inspire an online mosaic that brings people together regardless of the geographical and language barriers that can separate us.”

The #wordswelivein initiative, open to all, is based on the model of other crowd-sourced, partnership-based, digitally connected initiatives launched by 92Y, including #GivingTuesday, 7 Days of Genius, and The Ben Franklin Circles. The growing list of organizations participating in #wordswelivein includes the Folger Shakespeare Library; Urban Word, Poetry Society of America and Scripps College – all planning a combination of social media campaigns and/or live events in their own communities.

#wordswelivein Original Content

In addition to collecting crowd-sourced image submissions, 92Y has commissioned writers to create and contribute original works that combine text (poetry and prose) and images that are being collected on the #wordswelivein website. The project launched in June with work by emerging voices from around the world, including writers from 92Y’s Discovery Contest; Poetry Society of America; Poets House; The Poetry Project; Kundiman, an organization dedicated to Asian American literature; and Canto Mundo, an organization that cultivates a community of Latina and Latino poets. (Individuals can also submit an essay – up to 14 lines of poetry or 250 words of prose – for consideration at yourwords@92y.org.)

Beginning July 11, the #wordswelivein website will feature work by celebrated writers, including Anna Badkhen, author of Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through Northern Afghanistan and other works about people in extreme areas of the world; writer and scholar Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk; Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, historian, essayist and author of Harlem Is Nowhere; Edward Wilson-Lee, scholar of modern and medieval literature and Shakespeare and author of the forthcoming Shakespeare in Swahililand; New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman; and poets Eduardo Corral, Timothy Donnelly, Lynn Melnick and Camille Rankine.

Participating in #wordswelivein

Individuals or groups can get involved in a variety of ways:

  • Post a photo of a word or phrase that speaks to you on your social media platform of choice, like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Tag it #wordswelivein and tell us why the photo is meaningful to you. Selected posts will be featured on our website, www.92Y.org/wordswelivein.
  • Organize or attend an “Instawalk.” Get a group together – friends, neighbors, colleagues, family – and share the words in your world and tell us what they mean to you on the social media platform of your choice. Don’t forget to tag them #wordswelivein.
  • Organize a local #wordswelivein reading, poetry-slam, slide-show or other event, and let us know about it!
  • For organizations who want to join #wordswelivein, there’s a toolkit with everything you need to know!
About 92nd Street Y

92nd Street Y is a center for the arts and innovation, a convener of ideas, and an incubator for creativity. Founded in 1874, it seeks to create, provide and disseminate programs of distinction that foster the physical and mental growth of people throughout their lives. 92Y offers thousands of programs from its New York headquarters and creates community far beyond its four walls, bringing people from all over the world together through innovations like the award-winning #GivingTuesday and the Social Good Summit. It’s transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action all over the world. All of 92Y’s programming is built on a foundation of Jewish values, including the capacity of civil dialogue to change minds; the potential of education and the arts to change lives; and a commitment to welcoming and serving people of all ages, races, religions and ethnicities.