Home Page > PEN World > Centres News

With 140 Centres in 101 countries, the world of PEN is always active. Here is some of the latest news from PEN Centres around the world… 


PEN South African Centre – International Mother Language Day Event

PEN SA celebrated International Mother-Language Day on 21st February by organising a very successful event at Kalk Bay Books. For more information click here.

PEN Austrian Centre – Turkey: Violence against protests? Time To Say: NO!

PEN Austrian Centre condemns the violence against protestors in Turkey asking colleagues to send letters, poems, short prose, or cartoons and stand against the violent clashes. For more information click here.

PEN Swiss Romand – Article Commemorating International Women’s Day

To observe International Women’s Day on the 8th March 2013, Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt, Vice president of Swiss Romand PEN Centre for the Writers in Prison Committee, wrote an article protesting against violence and discrimination against women and girls. The article was published by various Swiss newspapers and can be viewed, in French and English, here.

PEN Melbourne and PEN Cambodia – Creative Writing Workshop

From the 25th to the 27th of January 2013, Dr Arnold Zable, president of PEN Melbourne, and Sreang Heng, president of PEN Cambodia, conducted a creative writing workshop entitled ‘Capacity Building for Cambodian Writers’ in Phnom Penh. An expression of the relationship between PEN Melbourne and PEN Cambodia, the workshop was a potent illustration of PEN’s governing principle, literature knows no borders. It was promoted through writers’ networks, word of mouth and local radio, and attracted over 180 applicants, of which 80 were selected due to space limitations.

The participants ranged from beginners to established writers, and showcased a range of genres – memoir, fiction, children’s writing, philosophical and academic writing, journalism and other forms. Sreang Heng acted as an interpreter throughout the three days, and the workshop was structured by Zable around daily lectures, question and answer sessions, discussion, and readings by writers. The final session promoted the formation of writing groups and book clubs, enabling the workshop’s participants to continue to meet regularly, and discuss and share their work.

English PEN celebrate work of Enoh Meyomesse

Enoh Meyomesse is a Cameroonian writer and activist. On 27 December 2012, having already spent 13 months in prison, he was sentenced to seven years in prison on charges that are widely believed to be politically motivated. PEN considers his incarceration a violation of his right to free expression, and continues to call for his immediate and unconditional release.

To show their support for Enoh Meyomesse and to help raise and maintain awareness of his case, English PEN will be translating his works from French to English, and over the coming months his poems will be posted on their website.

For more information on the campaign click here.

German PEN Centre Appoints Honorary Members

German PEN Centre have appointed three new honorary memebers; Qatari poet Mohammed al-Adjami, Chinese poet Li Bifeng and the Turkish sociologist and author Pinar Selek.

For more information click here.

PEN Austrian Centre’s Literary Protest – Time to Say: NO!

PEN Austria have launched a literary protest condemning the violence against Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old Pakistani blogger and education activist who was shot on her way home from school. The literary protests invites people to write poems in their mother tongue.

For full details of the campaign please visit PEN Austrian Centre here.

PEN Bolivia: National Meeting

On 23 and 24 February 2013 PEN Bolivia held a national meeting of all its members, with writers, poets, playwrights and journalists from Cochabamba, Oruro and Santa Cruz taking part. The theme was literature as a place of brotherhood.

Members took the opportunity to socialize and experience activities based on the core ideas of PEN and especially its support for freedom of expression. In addition, the various subsidiaries presented papers in relation to the theme of the meeting. The authors who published works in the year 2011 – 2012 discussed these recent publications. The meeting ended by raising projections for the year ahead, common projects and lines of action nationwide.

We are sure this is an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of PEN BOLIVIA around the ideals that unite us beyond all boundaries.

Kurdish PEN Centre condemns the assassination of three Kurdish women in Paris

Three Kurdish women political activist have been assassinated in the premises of the Kurdish Information Bureau in Paris on 09 January 2013.

The brutal execution of Sakine Cansiz, Fidan Dogan and Leyla Soylemez, with shooting in the head, shocked the Kurdish community in all Europe, as well as in Kurdistan.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls called the assassination “without doubt an execution.” The President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, the French President Hollande, the President of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament Swoboda and European United Left Group in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL) condemned the assassination of the Kurdish women.

The Writers for Peace Committee WfPC of the Kurdish PEN Centre, believe that this political assassination of three Kurdish women is connected with the anti-Kurdish elements and countries, which prefer war with the Kurdish people instead of dialogue and peace.

We condemn this brutal act and call to the international community, especially the International PEN to put pressure on Turkey to stop all violence, terror and war against the Kurdish people.

We also ask to the French authorities to investigate seriously the assassination and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Writers for Peace Committee – WfPC of Kurdish PEN Centre
Komîteya Nivîskarên bo Ashtiyê KNbA ya Navenda PENa Kurd


German Speaking Writers Abroad PEN Centre write Christmas Letters to Imprisoned Chinese Writers

This Christmas members of German Speaking Writers Abroad PEN Centre wrote several letters to imprisoned Chinese writers. The group of writers and translators from the Centre, including Esther Dischereit, focused on a PEN list of writers currently held in Chinese prisons.

To view German Speaking Writers Abroad PEN Centre’s website click here.

Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2012: PEN Centre Activities

To Mark this years Day of the Imprisoned Writer, PEN Centres around the world staged events, commemorating friends and colleagues who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression.

To read PEN Centre Activities report click here.

In the Hug of Arms Anthology

Mariela Baeva, a member of the PEN International’s Women Writers Committee, former member of the European Parliament and current LEED partner, has edited an excellent anthology in tribute to innocent victims of armed conflicts (WWII, Arab Spring, other regions of turbulence and radical change).

Mariela collected contributions from PEN and WWC members in countries such as Uganda, Somalia, Ireland, Russia, Belgium, Angola, the municipality of Anzio (Italy), Pakistan, Lebanon and Bulgaria. The texts are in English, French, Urdu, Somali, Russian (with translations into English).

The compilation consists of short stories, poems, articles, excerpts from a diary, excerpts from a novel, drawings, historic photos, a musical notation dedicated to survival (and God), a historical letter, and a reference to a lament for three voices.

Mariela believes the anthology will be of great interest to the PEN membership and young writers worldwide, saying ‘I really hope this anthology will be a valuable contribution to common heritage.’

The anthology is available to read here: In the Hug of Arms Anthology

On the 2nd anniversary of Liu Xiaobo being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, PEN Centres around the world call for his release.

To read joint letter from PEN International President John Ralston Saul, Luis Enrique Eguren, Brigitte Dufour, Mary Lawlor, Gerald Staberock and Bjørn Engesland click here.

To read joint letter by Herbert Wiesner, Secretary General of German PEN and Tienchi Martin-Liao President of the Independent Chinese Centre to Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden click here.

To read joint letter by Herbert Wiesner, Secretary General of German PEN and Tienchi Martin-Liao President of the Independent Chinese Centre to Harald V King of Norway click here.

To read PEN American Centre statement click here.

November 2012 | German PEN Centre releases Writers in Exile Case List 1999-2012

At Frankfurt Book Fair this year PEN International were delighted to catch up with the staff of German PEN and their General Secretary Herbert Wiesner. We were also present at their excellent panel discussion ‘Resisting Dictatorship – Living as an Author in Belarus’.

German PEN has produced many interesting publications this year, including Writers in Exile, which is available for download here.

For further information please contact:
Sandra Weires-Guia M.A.

PEN-Zentrum Deutschland
Kasinostraße 3
64293 Darmstadt
Fax 06151-293414
eMail: PEN-Germany@t-online.de


8 November 2012 | Nepalese PEN Centre’s Symposium on Freedom of Artistic Expression

Nepalese PEN Centre, in collaboration with UNESCO held a symposium on Freedom of Artistic Expression, with Kiran Manandhar, Chancellor of National Academy of Fine Arts, Axel Plathe, Representative of UNESCO Robert Piper, Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator of UNDP and Prakash A.Raj, Secretary of Nepalese PEN.

For more information on the event click here.

22 October | Pen Center USA: The 22nd Annual Literary Awards Festival @ Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Hotel

The 22nd Annual Literary Awards Festival will feature the presentation of the organization’s Literary Awards of $1000 and honor the best writing in the western states, in 11 genres. PEN Center USA Executive Director Adam Somers has announced 3 of the year’s honorees: Morgan Entrekin, Joyce Carol Oates, and CBS correspondent Lara Logan.

For more information about the Festival and to book a ticket, click here.

30 August 18:30-21:00 | Japan PEN: ‘The future after Fukushima and Chernobyl’ @ Senshu University Institute of Humanities, Room 303 (free entry)

Both the Chernobyl and Fukushima incidents have clearly demonstrated that the so-called ‘peaceful usage of nuclear energy’ can have grave consequences comparable to the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing. Japan PEN is therefore hosting the event to discuss the need to abolish all nuclear energy plants. Japan PEN will present the report researched by the PEN delegation on Chernobyl 26 years later.

For more information (in Japanese) about the event, please click here.

4-5 August 2012 | Danish PEN: 117 stemmer om drømme visioner @ Christianshavn in Copenhagen.

For the sixth consecutive year, Danish PEN along with Danish Writers Association and the Danish Fiction Writers International Committee are hosting a summer event on dreams and visions in the courtyard of Danish PEN. This year the events will run over a full weekend, for more information (in Danish) and a list of speakers, click here.

31st July 2012 | PEN Center USA: Reckoning With Torture @ The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA 7:30 PM

PEN Center USA will be hosting a panel discussion led by Writer and activist Larry Siems, author of The Torture Report, and former military interrogator Matthew Alexander lead an evening of screenings and discussion. The panel will be followed by a talk and film clip from “Reckoning With Torture” produced by Avram Ludwig. For more information, click here.

21 July 2012 | Philippine PEN to Launch a New Poetry Book

At the next General Meeting, Philippine PEN will launch a new poetry collection by poet Edwin Cordevilla entitled “The Occasions of Air, Fire, Water, Earth” on July 21 from 5 pm at Solidaridad Bookstore (Padre Faura Street, Ermita, Manila). The book is published by Central Books and is Cordevilla’s second book of poems. Members of public are invited, for more information please go to the Philippine PEN website here or email Cesar at solidbookshop@yahoo.com.

18 July 2012 | PEN Center USA: 2012 Emerging Voices Fellows Reading Event

On July 18th 2012, this year’s Emerging Voices fellows will be holding a reading of their work written during the Fellowship. Emerging Voices is a literary fellowship program that aims to provide new writers, who lack access, with the tools they will need to launch a professional writing career. For more information about the event, click here. Applications for the 2013 Fellowship are now open, please click here for more information.

July 2012 | Lastest Issue of the Dissident Blog

Emmahakansson The Dissident blog acts as an open literary forum for writers who for various reasons cannot publish their work in their home countries. This issue focuses on the suppression of freedom of expression in countries including Syria, Afghanistan and Belarus. It also highlights the ongoing imprisonment of three Swedish journalists- Martin Schibbye, Johan Persson and Dawit Isaakwere which is indicative of ‘the escalating threats and growing violence against professional writers that we have been witnessing in the world’ (Ola Larsmo, The Evil Paradox of The Media Society article).

22 June 2012 | Nominations Open for Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award

Independent Chinese Pen Centre (ICPC) announced Liu Xiaobao Courage to Write Award 2013 nominations are now open until 8 October 2012. Liu Xiaobo Courage to Write Award was created in 2010 in commemoration of the commitment to freedom of expression and courage displayed by Liu Xiaobo, ICPC’s honorary and former President who is currently serving an 11 year sentence in prison in China. For more information about the award and nominations, please click here for English and here for the Chinese webpage.

21 June 2012 | Turkish PEN: PEN Turkey International Short Story Award goes to Aschalew Kebede of Ethiopia

This year’s PEN Turkey International Short Story Award has been given to Aschalew Kebede, an outstanding author from Ethiopia. Born in 1971, Aschalew Kebede has written about Ethiopian history and culture as well as stories, novels and articles. He also translates stories from German into Amhara. For more information, please visit the Turkish PEN website here.

Eskinder Nega awarded PEN American Center/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award

Pen American Center honoured Eskinder Nega, an Ethiopian journalist and leading advocate of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, with the 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, at its annual Literary Gala at the Museum of Natural History in New York last 1 May. Nega has been in prison since September, 2011 and is currently being tried under anti-terrorism laws. His wife, Serkalem Fasil, accepted the award on his behalf. Turkish publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, who has been also jailed for challenging censorship laws in his country, was also honoured with the Association of American Publisher’s Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award, accepted by his children. Find more information here.

Suisse Romand Centre at the Geneva International Book and Press Fair

PEN Suisse Romand at Geneva International Book and Press Fair 2012

The Geneva International Book and Press Fair which ran from the 25-29th April this year offered not only a great platform to publishers internationally but also an opportunity for Suisse Romand Centre and the Writers In Prison Committee of PEN International to raise awareness about writers in prison. Hundreds of authors, publishers and readers signed petitions protesting the imprisonment of Liu Xiaobo (Peace Nobel Prize, former President of Independent Chinese PEN Centre); the Eastern Snow Mountain writers Jang Donkho, ‘Buddha’ and Kalsang Jinpa (Tibetan writers, honorary members of PEN Suisse Romand); Nguyen Tien Trung and Lu Van Bay (Vietnamese writers and honorary members of PEN Suisse Romand).

PEN Haiti and the Institut Francais to host Une Voix Festival in Port-au-Prince

On the occasion of the 32nd Steinbeck Festival and the centennial anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, PEN Haiti and the Institut Francais are hosting Une Voix / One Voice, a festival of lectures, songs, films and debates commemorating the life and works of John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie. The event comes just two weeks after PEN Haiti’s first Free the Word Festival and will take place between the 5th – 8th May in Port-au-Prince. Find more details here.

A message from Afar-speaking PEN

[Le] PEN CLUB AFAR DE DJIBOUTI est un centre régional en Afrique de l’Est pour la langue afar parlée tantôt en Érythrée, Ethiopie et à Djibouti. La langue afar occupe 90 % du territoire, il a un statut d’un Etat fédéral Afar en Ethiopie et il occupe une situation géostratégique importante en Érythrée puisque le long des bordures de la Mer rouge est occupé par les Afars du coté de Massawa jusqu’au sud de la frontière de Djibouti (Doumeira) où vit toujours, de l’autre coté de la frontière, cette même communauté. Démographiquement, les Afars font environ 3 millions d’habitants pour un territoire de 150000 KM2.
Le centre, qui comprend les membres de l’Ethiopie et de l’Érythrée, représente tous les 3 pays ainsi que la diaspora, membre notamment.
Cette semaine, nous avons eu l’honneur d’accueillir, avec le Somali Pen, le président du Pen International, Mr John Saul grâce auquel le pen afar a pu obtenir un siège et des équipements (Bureautique, meubles…) pour que le Bureau Exécutif puisse travailler dans la sérénité et l’harmonie.


Norwegian PEN Action on Belarus! conference

Norwegian PEN, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian Helsinki Committee invite you to the conference Action on Belarus!

Place: House of Literature, Oslo
Time: Thursday 22 March 2012, at 08.30 – 16.00
More than a year has passed since the violent crackdown on protesters on 19 December 2010 in Minsk. Since then, the human rights situation in Belarus has continued to spiral downwards. Political opposition leaders Andrei Sannikov, Mikhail Statkevich and several others remain imprisoned. Human rights organizations and independent media are being harassed. The leading human rights defender Ales Bialiatski has been convicted to a long prison sentence. The European Union takes the lead on action against Belarus, and has imposed sanctions like ban on visa for more than 200 officials and limitations on trade with companies close to the President. Still, there are no signs that President Alexander Lukashenko is planning to unclench his iron fist. Instead, the crisis in the relationship between Belarus and Europe has deepened, and at the same time the doubt about Belarus’ ability to save its’ internal economy becomes stronger.

Is the pursued policy efficient? Is Norway’s policy towards Belarus clear enough? How can we offer more support to freedom-longing Belarusians? And is the Belarusian people ready for a change?

To find out more about the programme of the conference and debates here

You can watch the conference live on March 22 by following the direct weblink here

Slovak PEN celebrates 10th Anniversary of Global PEN library

The Slovak PEN Centre celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Global PEN Library project on the 23rd of February at the Baroque Hall of University Library in Bratislava.
Representatives of PEN Centres from all over the world, as well as 23 ambassadors and honorary guests from cultural and state institutions took part in the ceremony, during which new books were donated to the University Library.
Thanks to the donations and support the Global PEN Library project has received over 660 new books this year, from 39 countries.

Read the description of the ceremony by Gustáv Murín, honorary President of Slovak PEN Centre here.

Philippine PEN at Taboan Festival

Taboan festival march 2012: Plenary session. Photo copyright Lifestyle Inquirer
The Philippine PEN Centre took part in Taboan, Philippine Writers Festival, a three-day gathering of teachers, writers, students, scholars and readers. Organised by the National Commission on Culture & the Arts, the series of events covered a range of subjects including the craft of writing, Filipino aesthetics, history, science, and the environment. Read more here.
Photo: Plenary session at the Taboan festival. Courtesy of Lifestyle Inquirer

Slovakia: Bratislava Court prohibits journalist Tom Nicholson from publishing book on the ‘Gorilla Affair’

On 14 February, the Slovak PEN Centre issued a statement – see below – on a ruling passed in early February 2012, by a court in Bratislava ordering journalist Tom Nicholson to abstain from publishing his book on the Gorilla Affair, as well as any related investigative material. The Gorilla Affair refers to alleged corruption in public procurement in Slovakia, under the government of Mikulas Dzurinda between 1998-2006. ‘Gorilla’ is codename for a file leaked in 2009, purportedly evidencing bribery between high profile business groups and cabinet level officials and members of parliament, including those belonging to Fico’s party SMER, to secure a range of privatisation contracts. When Nicholson received a copy of the file, he informed the police, however the then minister of interior of Fico’s government, Kalinak, stopped the investigation, which ocurred for a second time in December 2011. Various bodies, including the Slovak branch of the International Press Institute, have spoken out against the Court’s ruling, describing the decision as an example of censorship and a violation of the human right to freedom of speech and expression.

Statement of the Slovak P.E.N. Centre

The Slovak P.E.N. Centre strongly condemns the ruling of the District Court Bratislava I, which forbids the journalist, Tom Nicholson, from publishing his book on the “Gorilla Affair”. SC P.E.N. criticises the ruling by judge Branislav Kráľ, viewing it as the implementation of censorship and, as such, an overt violation of freedom of expression. This is evidenced by the definition of the censorship as defined in the Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which says that: “Under the censorship we understand the limitation, suppression or not publishing of information, picture or recording if the reason of this step was political, business or personal”. In this particular case, we view the ruling as an example of double censorship, because the judge has prohibited the publishing of a book which was not yet written, with only the author knowing its future content. We consequently assume that there were personal or commercial reasons behind the ruling.

The Court’s decision gives every reason to cast doubt upon the independence of the Slovak judiciary. We are convinced that this kind of ruling decreases its credibility, not only among Slovak citizens but also internationally.

Throughout the years of its existence, the main motto of the international writers’ association P.E.N. has been, and remains, the free dissemination of literature and the written word all over the world. In consequence of this, we feel it necessary to inform the writers’ community abroad about the steps of the Slovak judiciary.

Executive Board of the Slovak P.E.N. Centre, Member of P.E.N. International

Bratislava, 14.2.2012

PEN Turkey Short Story Award presented to Dr. Tashin Yücel

Tarik Günersel (President of PEN Turkey), Dr. Tashin Yücel and Zeynap Aliye (Chair of the Short Story Committee)
To mark World Short Story Day, 14 February 2012, Prof. Tashin Yücel was awarded the PEN Turkey Short Story Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the genre. Dr Yücel, pictured here with PEN Turkey President Tarik Günersel and Chair of the Short Story Committee, Zeynep Aliye, is a prominent novelist and short story writer, as well as a literary critic and translator.

During the awards ceremony, a number of Empty Chairs were placed on the stage as a reminder of the writers, journalists, and publishers currently under arrest in Turkey. These include 6 PEN Turkey members: Mustafa Balbay (journalist), Muharrem Erbey (writer and human rights activist), Nedim Şener (journalist), Ahmet Şik (journalist), Halim Yazici (poet) and Ragip Zarakolu (writer and publisher).

Irish PEN Award presentation

On Friday 10 February 2012 Irish PEN awarded writer Joseph O’Connor with the annual Irish PEN Award. The President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins was also made an honorary member of the Centre. See photos from the event here and read more about the evening and Irish PEN Centre at www.irishpen.com/wordpress.

Zambian PEN and South African PEN announce new award

Zambian PEN is pleased to announce The PEN Charter Award 2012. Supported by South African PEN, the Award will recognise achievement among young writers in Zambia. Watch this space for more information.

Ghana PEN and Ghana Association of Writers collaborate

The Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) and the Ghanaian Centre of PEN International have agreed to collaborate in advancing the interest of writers in Ghana.

The two organizations firmed their decision during a meeting last Saturday at PAWA House in Accra. Read more…

San Miguel de Allende PEN Secretary Lucina Kathmann addresses Taipei PEN meeting

Lucina Kathmann (secretary, San Miguel de Allende PEN) addresses Taipei PEN president of Taipei Chinese PEN, Ching-Hsi Perng

Ching-Hsi Perng (president, Taipei Chinese PEN) and Lucina Kathmann (secretary, San Miguel de Allende PEN), December 2011

The annual meeting of Taipei PEN was held on 17 December 2011 at the national university in Taipei. Lucina Kathmann, secretary of San Miguel de Allende PEN, attended the meeting and delivered a talk on ‘The Rediscovery of America’, which was translated and printed in Chinese.

Swedish PEN: latest issue of The Dissident Blog

Read the December issue of Swedish PEN’s online publication The Dissident Blog. The publication acts as an open literary forum for writers who for various reasons cannot publish their work in their home countries.

“The Dissident Blog is Swedish PEN’s contribution to bring down the new digital prison bars.” Ola Larsmo, Chairman, Swedish PEN


Catalan PEN attends speech by Galician Culture Secretary

See coverage in EL Mundo Galicia at http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/01/05/galicia/1325773328.html

Catalan PEN has been awarded the UNESCOCAT award

<href=”http://www.pen-international.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/catalan-PEN.jpg”>Catalan PEN receives the UNESCOCAT award

On 13 December the Catalan PEN Centre was awarded the UNESCO Catalan award, in recognition of the Centre’s work for the promotion of the Catalan language and culture. Read about the awared at http://www.unescocat.org/es/noticias/2011/12/13/el-pen-catalan-ha-sido-guardonado-con-el-premio-internacional-unescocat

Philippine PEN

At the 54th Congress of the Philippine PEN Centre, members passed a resolution calling for action against climate change and committing themselves as writers to the cause of stopping damage to the environment:

“Since the issues revolving around the issue are technical and geopolitical, beyond the immediate comprehension of laymen and non-politician, we, as writers and artists, have the artistry and the obligation to make them immediate and compelling.”

Climate change is a particularly immediate issue for residents of the Philippines, an archipelago of small islands which rising sea levels and climate extremes could seriously threaten. The Philippine PEN Centre took the opportunity to call for a renewed commitment to the campaign against climate change as the international community gatherred at the UN climate change conference in Durban early in December.

Read more on the Phillipine PEN website here and read an article from The Daily Inquirer here.

English PEN commissions sculpture by Anthony Gormley for the British Library to mark 90th Anniversary

English PEN commissioned sculpture by Anthony Gormley at British Library, December 2011

‘Witness’ by Anthony Gormley. Photo © Clare Kendall

To celebrate the 90th anniversary of PEN International English PEN commissioned acclaimed sculptor Anthony Gormley to create a piece of art for the British Library in London. Entitled ‘Witness’, the piece unveiled on 12 December 2011 depicts an empty chair, a symbol used across the PEN International community to represent imprisoned writers around the world.

Gillian Slovo,the President of English PEN, says:

“Antony Gormley has generously created for English PEN a sculpture that plays off the symbolism of PEN’s empty chair. It will stand as tribute to, and reminder of, those writers who, because of censorship and tyranny, are not free to go to any library either in their countries or in ours, and at the same time recognises the work of PEN branches throughout the world in service of free expression.”

See http://www.englishpen.org/news/_1709/ for more details.

PEN Centres mark Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2011


On 15 November 2011 PEN International marked the 30th Annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, a day of action to recognise and support writers who have resisted repression of the basic right to freedom of expression.

PEN’s members from around the world have commemorated the day with a huge variety of advocacy and campaigning activities, ranging from public demonstrations to press conferences, award ceremonies, poetry readings, theatre events and letter writing sessions, to name just a few.

This advocacy is part of PEN’s ongoing fight to defend writers who have been faced with harassment and persecution as a result of their work.

To find out more about the events organized by PEN centers and members to mark the Day please click here to see our report.

Estonian PEN hosts Finnish PEN for Free the Word! event

To celebrate the 90th birthday of PEN, Estonian PEN centre invited Finnish PEN to hold a joint literary event on 23 November 2011.

Leevi Lehto and Kätlin Kaldmaa at Estonian/Finnish PEN event

Leevi Lehto and Kätlin Kaldmaa (Estonian PEN). Photographs (c) Finnish PEN

Jarkko Tontti and Peeter Sauter read at Estonian/Finnish PEN event

Jarkko Tontti and Peeter Sauter (Finnish PEN). Photographs (c) Finnish PEN

In Tallinn, Estonian and Finnish PEN held a literary evening with readings from both sides. Freedom of expression issues were discussed. In a demonstration of solidarity, signatures were collected to support Dawit Isaak and a poem by Liu Xiaobo was read.

There were also poems by Jarkko Tontti and Leevi Lehto from Finland, Goran Simic from Canada/Bosnia and Kätlin Kaldmaa from Estonia, as well as prose pieces by Estonian writers and PEN members Asta Põldmäe and Peeter Helme. There was a lively audience, with discussions of PEN issues both before and after the event.

PEN Files UN Free Expression Reports

PEN International has submitted reports to the Universal Periodic Review on Bahrain, Ecuador (with Fundamedios and Committee to Protect Journalists), South Africa (with South Africa PEN) and Tunisia (with IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group). See the blog post from PEN America: http://www.pen.org/blog/?p=6194

Mexico day of the Dead Campaign actions

PEN Mexico Day of the Dead altar by Paloma Diaz

PEN Mexico Day of the Dead altar by Paloma Diaz

On 2 November 2011 PEN International launched its Day of the Dead campaign commemorating the Mexican writers and print journalists who have been murdered, or who have disappeared, as a result of their work. PEN called on the Mexican authorities to bring to justice those responsible for these crimes, and to bring to an end the climate of impunity in which these attacks and murders take place.
As part of the campaign, writers and PEN members took part in traditional Day of the Dead activities, including the building of personalised, decorated altars. These altars were displayed alongside photographs of the murdered and missing journalists during events organised by individual centres, such as public readings, vigils, and conferences.

To see what PEN centres and members of the public did for the Day of the Dead campaign, read the Day of the Dead Campaign 2011 final report

PEN Melbourne publishes the second issue of the PEN Melbourne Quarterly

. Linking to the recent PEN International Girona Manifesto, this issue focuses on translation, featuring poetry in translation that was read in both languages at a recent PEN event in Melbourne.
Click on the image below to read the full publication or find it at http://www.melbournepen.com.au/

PEN Melbourne Quarterly issue 2

South African PEN Protests against the South African Goverment’s treatment of the Dalai Lama visa application

On the 10th of October, South African PEN issued a statement condemning “the shameful manner in which the South African Government has dealt with an application for a visa to attend the private birthday party of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu by the renowned Tibetan spiritual leader, Nobel peace prize laureate and author, the Dalai Lama.” A three-month delay in the processing of the request has meant that the Dalai Lama was forced to cancel his travel to South Africa.

The full statement by South Africa PEN can be viewed here.

English PEN awards the PEN Pinter Prize 2011 to Sir David Hare and Roberto Saviano

The English PEN Centre has awarded Sir David Hare the PEN Pinter Prize. The Prize is awarded annually to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world, and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’.

The PEN Pinter Prize is shared with a Writer of Courage, an author who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs. Roberto Saviano, author of Gomorrah, was selected by the PEN Writers in Prison Committee and Sir David Hare himself to share the accolade.

Sir David Hare commented:

“Roberto Saviano took on the Neopolitan mafia, first in the novel Gomorrah and then in the film made from it. He did so at great risk to his own safety. My hope in sharing my prize with him is that a measure of recognition from PEN may, in however small a way, make his life easier.”

To read more click here.

German PEN awards the Hermann Kesten Prize to Egyptian publisher Mohamed Hashem

In a year that has seen widespread uprisings in the Arab world, German PEN has honoured Mohamed Hashem with the 2011 Hermann Kesten Award, an accolade that is dedicated to the spirit of the PEN International Charter. German PEN announced that, as a publisher, Mohamed Hashem has created a world of thought in which the Arab reform movement found its intellectual breeding ground. Situated close to Tahrir Square, his Dar Merit publishing house has been called a ‘Kaaba for the intellectuals’.

The Hermann Kesten prize-giving ceremony will take place on 15th November, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Kammerspiele of Staatstheater Darmstadt. The eulogy will be delivered by Stefan Weidner, journalist and translator. Among former winners of the award are Anna Polikkovskaya and the imprisoned Chinese writer Liu Xiaobo, who became the Nobel Peace Laureate of 2010 shortly after having been announced the Hermann Kesten award holder. The prize sum of € 10.000 is donated in equal parts by the Hessian Ministry for Science and Arts and the German PEN Centre.

To read more about the award, Mohamed Hashem and German PEN follow the links below:


Swedish PEN: latest issue of The Dissident Blog

Read the lates issue of Swedish PEN’s online publication The Dissident Blog.  The publication acts as an open literary forum for writers who for various reasons cannot publish their work in their home countries.

“The Dissident Blog is Swedish PEN’s contribution to bring down the new digital prison bars.” Ola Larsmo, Chairman, Swedish PEN


PEN Centres to form a Balkan Network

At the 77th International PEN Congress in Belgrade (12th-18th September), participants of the Balkan meeting agreed to form a Network of Balkan PEN Centres.

The statement follows:

Presidents of thirteen Balkan PEN Centres, gathered on the meeting today (13th September) decided unanimously to reinforce the cooperation between the centres in the spirit of tolerance and reconciliation. All tensions from the recent past should be surpassed and a new phase in mutual understanding should start instead, through common goals and programmes.

The paticipants of the Balkan meeting agreed to form a Network of Balkan PEN Centres coordinated by the Serbian PEN Centre. Interregional meetings and mutual translations are planned for the next year in order to put emphasis on values that link Balkan writers. Presidents of regional PEN Centres proposed to establish a Balkan PEN Library and a regional organisation for younger members of PEN associations, as well as to reinforce the importance of the ‘Balkanika’ Literary Award in Bulgaria, given to writers from the Balkan region.

The Balkan centres unanimously supported Sarajevo’s candidature for European Cultural Capital of Culture 2014.”

Belgrade, 13th September 2011.


Turkish PEN, Bulgarian PEN, Romanian PEN, Croatian PEN, Bosnia-Herzigovina PEN, Macedonian PEN, Slovene PEN, Montenegrin PEN, Moldovan PEN, Kosovan PEN, Cypriot PEN, Serbian PEN

Please send us your updates if you are based in a PEN Centre.