Each Murmur is a group performance that serves as an opportunity to stand in defiance against violence, hatred, bigotry and oppression. Murmurs are also opportunities to read, listen, and learn in a safe environment organized to highlight the democratic exchange of ideas.

If you would like to host a Murmur please do the following:

  • Invite guests to a place where individuals can read to each other. Ask guests to bring appropriate reading material. Examples can include speeches, letters, poems, stories, testimonies and other texts from survivors of violence, hatred, bigotry or oppression. Go to http://www.januarytwenty.net/archives-by-latest/ for examples and please upload other texts that you deem appropriate. This will allow others to share material more broadly. (Please note that uploaded materials are reviewed by the site administrators to ensure that they do not contain anything divisive or hateful.)
  • Use no microphone, no stage, and no podium.
  • Move into small groups (3-10 people each depending on space, furniture, and number of participants) and read to each other.
  • When you are not reading, then listen to the reader in your group. If texts are short then take turns reading to each other. If texts are longer then consider sharing the reading and passing copies to each other.
  • Assign one person to serve as a facilitator of each group. Their role will be to welcome others to the group and facilitate readings, when necessary.
  • Participants should feel free to move between groups between readings.
  • Send information about the Murmur (organizer, location, time, number of participants, etc.) to the Contact Page of this website.
  • This site will post information about upcoming Murmurs. Please send information about your Murmur to http://www.januarytwenty.net/contact/ at least one week prior to the performance date.

Please keep in mind:

  • Murmurs are learning and reflecting activities. Loud voices are disruptive and counter the horizontal, democratic exchange of ideas.
  • Ideally, each Murmur will include no less than six participants. Three groups (in pairs or larger) allow for multiple voices to generate the Murmur itself. Single voices do not work and two voices tend to be distracting. More simultaneous voices reading in small groups operate as a Murmur. The more groups and voices, the richer the sound and the collective experience.
  • Often, the material that is shared during Murmurs includes dark and difficult content. If the tone of any particular group gets too dark or burdensome, then the facilitator of that group should introduce other material. The speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., the poems of Maya Angelou, and letters of James Baldwin are recommended, but other words by other authors can also re-set the goals of horizontal, democratic exchange.
  • Most Murmurs involve adults, but at least one child-friendly Murmur was held on January 20, 2017. In that Murmur parents and Children’s Books Librarians collected books and stories about the dangers of hatred, bullying, violence, and oppression. These books and stories were read with and for children at the public library in Forest Park, Illinois.

Please submit any questions, comments, or concerns to http://www.januarytwenty.net/contact/.