Post Date and Author: 
- by  Abby Weingarten
How can we rethink the role of the arts in society? By showing, not telling. That’s one of the annual aims of the “Words in Action” festival at New College of Florida.

Every spring, the event brings together professional authors, artists and activists who are producing revolutionary work—work that inspires New College students to use their own creativity in groundbreaking ways. This year, the “Finding Your True Purpose”-themed festival will be held from March 8 to 16, both on the New College campus and in the local community.

“Our ambition is to radically re-envision creative writing beyond its disciplinary bounds and situate it within a larger social context of work, writing and literacy in action,” said Emily Carr, Ph.D., a visiting assistant professor of creative writing at New College and the festival’s founder.

This re-envisioning is done by showcasing the way individuals in writing-adjacent fields (from editors and librarians to tarot readers and podcast hosts) apply their skills to a broad array of careers. For 2022, the featured festival artists are Michelle Tea, a post-punk performance poet who explores class, queer identity and feminism in her writing; and Cristy C.Road, a Cuban-American artist who expresses herself through illustration, storytelling and punk rock.

“Michelle and Cristy really exemplify what it means to be artists, activists and role models in today’s world,” Carr said. “They role model not just making rad, amazing, revolutionary art, but also creating radical, revolutionary community with art making as the catalyst. That’s what this year’s festival is all about—using art as a catalyst to generate revolutionary activism, connection and personal change. And all of that is going to happen across all of the festival events this year.”

Support for the festival is provided by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the New College Gender Studies Program, and the event sponsor is the Creative Writing Area of Concentration at New College.

This year’s events include:

Character Café

Noon to 4 p.m. Tues. March 8 on the Cook Hall lawn

An immersive, interactive theatrical experiment featuring New College students—inspired by the cosplay cafés of Japan. Collaborate with student actors who have been training under the guidance of New College student Kyla Hunter, who is hosting the café as part of her thesis.

Null Set Launch

5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tues. March 8 in Hamilton Classroom 8

A brand-new online emporium featuring creative work by New College students and alumni.

Tiny Impossible Truths: An I Scream Social

6 to 7:30 p.m. Thurs. March 10 at the Payne Park Amphitheater

Student authors will channel their timely anger into meaningful literary performances. Learn life-changing truths from student poets from New College and Booker Middle School Teacher Joanna Fox’s Dragonfly Café.

Following Your True Purpose, Featuring Michelle Tea and Cristy C.Road

7 to 8:30 p.m. Mon. March 14 in Hamilton Classroom 8

Join queer memoirist, post-punk performance artist and tarot reader Michelle Tea; and punk musician, tarot artist and zine author Cristy C. Road in a conversation about art making, magic, spirituality, being a misfit, paying the bills, tapping into your intuition and following your true purpose (which is to make, create and relate)! This talk-show-style event is for dreamers, disruptors and creatives of all stripes.

Queer Memoir Workshop with Michelle Tea 

9 to 11 a.m. Tues. March 15 in the Cook Hall lobby

Draw inspiration from existing queer memoirs and memoirists to create story leads and new material. Learn crafting tips and troubleshoot issues unique to queer memoir. Tea will be available to answer questions and share her experience in queer memoir—from beginning a project to promoting a published work.

Queering the Tarot with Cristy C.Road

Noon to 2 p.m. Tues. March 15 in the Cook Hall lobby

Cristy Road Carrera is the author and illustrator of the Next World Tarot—a deck designed to demystify traditional norms associated with the tarot (both visually and historically). Often seen through images of European nobility, class structure, patriarchy and white supremacy, the tarot remains a tool that existed long before colonization (as ancient civilizations developed divination rituals with tangible objects—from sea shells to paper goods). Learn new spreads and ways of identifying with the tarot’s abilities. As the goal of the Next World Tarot was to be a battle cry of the unheard, this workshop will shine light on the unheard powers of the tarot.

Finding Your True Purpose Redux with Professor Emily Carr, Ph.D. 

2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Tues. March 15 in the Black Box Theater

So often, we attend festivals and then we just go our own ways—what an energetic letdown after so much creativity and inspiration! This event is an opportunity to connect informally, share and process experiences, and plan next steps. What are you going to go out and create? What are you inspired to do, to make? Join this inspired conversation about art making and risk taking. 

To learn more about “Words in Action,” visit

Abby Weingarten is the senior editor in the Office of Communications & Marketing.