Message to the members of PEN International, from Executive Director, Laura McVeigh

Message from Executive Director, Laura McVeigh:

Dear Friends,

here is the latest news from the International Office.

Staff News
I am delighted to announce that Frank Geary and Sara Whyatt are now Deputy Directors at PEN International working with me across the work of the organisation as a whole. With a strong Senior Management Team in place working closely with the Board we continue to strengthen PEN International. Details of the current staff team and areas of focus can be found at Our funding situation is also strengthening and we are now recruiting for two staff posts: Communications & Campaigns Manager and Literary Manager – details feature on and deadline for application is May 18th.

On behalf of all at PEN International I would like to thank Emilia for her wonderful contribution volunteering with us on media and literary events over recent months – she is returning to Italy and will be missed by all in the office. We now also welcome two new volunteers to the International Secretariat – Chloe Wong (who brings Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and English language skills) and Ana Melissa Zarraga from Venezuela (who brings Spanish, French and English language skills). The office is increasingly international – we now have staff and volunteers with French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Finnish, Chinese, Japonses, German and Turkish language skills.

Centre News and Visits
In recent weeks I have been able to meet more PEN members – my thanks to Scottish PEN for the warm welcome to Edinburgh; to Tomica and Damir from Croatian PEN, to Kaiser from Uyghur PEN and Adi Blum from Swiss German PEN – all who took the time recently to call with us in the office. It was also wonderful to be able to meet with members of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre who were in London making a stand at the London Book Fair. English PEN hosted an excellent events programme within the Book Fair bringing in voices in exile and working with the Literary Translation Centre on the launch of a new, innovative Translation Fund.

PEN International President John Ralston Saul, International Secretary Hori Takeaki and Treasurer Eric Lax all also took the time to work with the staff in London and to attend the Book Fair with me where we attended several ICPC and English PEN events and met with publishers attending the Fair to discuss the Publishers Circle.

Free the Word! Festival news
Working with PEN Haiti and PEN American Center, the Free the Word! Festival took place in several locations across Haiti. This was a fantastic PEN-led event – our congratulations to Jean-Euphele Milcé and all at PEN Haiti for bringing together this remarkable festival. Details and recordings can be seen at:

Here in the international office, and along with English PEN, we are working on developing a Free the Word! Festival day as part of the Poetry Parnassus week at the London Southbank Centre – an event bringing together poets from around the world. Details of the Free the Word! programme can be found at: We continue to explore new models and ways of working in collaboration to host Free the Word! festivals – if your centre is interested please contact Interim Literary Manager Paul Finegan at

Upcoming PEN International events
May and June are busy months in the PEN International calendar. Events coming up include the Balkans Network meeting (9 May, Belgrade), the Writers for PEACE meeting in Bled (16 May, Bled), the Translation & Linguistic Rights committee meeting in Barcelona (4-6 June, Barcelona), the Ural-Altay Network meeting in Crimea (17-21 June, Crimea) and the PEN International Board meeting in London in June (20-22 June, London). For more information about upcoming events see These are important times for us to be able to meet in person and take forward the work of PEN.

Work on the Congress continues and I hope you have all now received your information packs from Korean PEN and seen the registration and background information online at:

Launch of Tunisian Anthology
Working in collaboration with IFEX, Index on Censorship and Tunisian PEN, we are delighted to share news that a new anthology of writing from Tunisia launches this week in Tunis in Arabic (French and English editions will follow in June). We will be identifying other similar projects for the year ahead and will seek to showcase writing through publications, and in particular through the launch of a new literary website currently in development.

This is just a snapshot of some of the latest news from PEN International. For all the latest news and events see: and for news from Centres around the world see

All very best,

Laura Mc Veigh

Executive Director