Free the Word! is PEN International’s roaming event series of contemporary literature from around the world. The Free the Word! team works with PEN Centres to develop an international network of literary events and festivals. Each festival is rooted in its local culture, but is international in outlook.
Established in 2008 in London, Free the Word! has since taken place in Austria, Spain, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Germany, South Africa, Colombia, Lebanon and in many other locales. For photos from some of these events visit our Flickr site here.
Free the Word! aims to:
• Bring writers together across cultures to share experiences and explore ideas;
• Open conversations about how literature can transform, influence and excite;
• Contribute to the flow of literature around the world through translation and the promotion of writing;
• Introduce readers to both established and emerging voices;
• Provide space for debate and dialogue between readers and writers.
Free the Word! events are flexible and vary in length, from an afternoon of events to a five-day festival, depending on the local context. It is also possible for PEN centres to work with other festivals and programme Free the Word! events within them.
PEN centres participating in the Free the Word! network stage a festival or events with support from the international office, and must commit to raising the necessary funds from local sources. They will also be responsible for their own programming and logistics. PEN Centres in the network will also be encouraged to visit other Free the Word! events and festivals, the better to share experiences and help prospective host Centres benefit from them.
If you are a PEN Centre and wish to enquire into the possibility of staging Free the Word! in your country, please contact Literary Manager email@example.com
PEN International, with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, has also produced a series of Best Practice Guidelines for organising international literary festivals and events. To download these guideline please click here.
Free the Word! is supported by: