Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A PEN Kenya event in Mombasa

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mines and minefields, My spoken words a review by K. O'Okwemba

In the photo, Njeri in blue and dancing tall on the left, at a PEN Kenya event in Mombasa in which we read from "It's Our turn to eat, the history of a Kenyan whistleblower, by Michela Wrong. Nyota Ndogo gets down to what she does best...


By Khainga O’Okwemba

Read more : http://philoikonya.blogspot.com/2010/06/mines-and-minefields-my-spoken-words.html

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

International PEN : Caroline McCormick steps down

Caroline McCormick steps down after five years at International PEN

International PEN, the worldwide community of writers, today announces the departure of Caroline McCormick, the first Executive Director for the charity appointed in 2005.

Caroline spearheaded many changes that transformed PEN, enabling it to strengthen its presence and its PEN Centres across the world. Her key achievements include establishing Free the Word!, International PEN's festival celebrating world literature, and developing regional programmes in Africa, Latin America and the Asia and Pacific regions. Other achievements include overseeing the development of a global re-brand, the re-launch of the International PEN website into three languages and stabilising the literary magazine of the organisation, appointing a dedicated editor for the first time.

International Secretary of PEN, Eugene Schoulgin says: ‘We are delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Caroline and wish her all the very best for the future.'

Caroline will take up the position as lead advisor to the National Theatre on its NT: Future campaign, and to Garsington Opera on its Relocation Appeal. She is also the Literature Director of Beyond Borders, which will launch its first programme this summer, and an Associate of Scott Prenn.

Her replacement has not yet been appointed.

For further information please contact: Emily Bromfield, Communications Director
Email: emily.bromfield@internationalpen.org.uk
Telephone: (0044) 207 405 0338


I wish her all the very best

-------- Albert Ashok

Announcing the Launch of PEN Reads, an Online Reading Group‏

Announcing the Launch of PEN Reads, an Online Reading Group‏
From: PEN American Center (nick@pen.org)

Announcing the Launch of PEN Reads, an Online Reading Group


PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, announced today the creation of PEN Reads, an online reading group that will bring readers and writers together to discuss works of literature relevant to PEN’s mission. The inaugural title will be The Hour of the Star (New Directions) by the legendary Brazilian author Clarice Lispector.

Each book will be discussed for five weeks on the PEN web site, which will feature a series of posts by writers, translators, scholars, and other prominent literary figures. They will discuss the novel and its author and how the book speaks to PEN’s mission to foster support for basic human rights and promote mutual understanding through the shared experience of literature.

Readers will be able to comment on each post, participating in a larger dialogue with the discussion’s contributors and with each other.

The initiative was created by PEN’s Membership Committee under the leadership of former Chair Jaime Manrique. He says, “PEN Reads’ choice of The Hour of the Star by the great, and incomparable, Clarice Lispector as its inaugural author reaffirms PEN’s commitment to honor, and help preserve, the literary legacy of the writers of the world whose works matter in a major way.”

The inaugural post, by award-winning novelist Colm Tóibín, will appear at www.pen.org/penreads at noon on Tuesday, July 6.

The Hour of the Star is currently available from booksellers everywhere.

About PEN American Center

PEN American Center is the largest of the 141 centers of International PEN, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 to dispel national, ethnic, and racial hatreds and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 3,400 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and the advancement of human rights of such past members as James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Eugene O’Neill, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck. To learn more about PEN American Center, please visit: www.pen.org.

PEN welcomes readers and writers from all walks of life to join us in our mission to protect free expression and to celebrate literature. To learn more about Membership, please visit: pen.org/join.

For more information, contact Nick Burd at (212) 334-1660 ext. 108.

PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | New York, NY 10012 | (212) 334-1660

Thursday, June 17, 2010

PEN News: June 16, 2010‏

PEN News: June 16, 2010


Several New York City public high schools request help from qualified volunteers in assessing students’ end-of-semester projects. Volunteers donate 2–4 hours of a single day to review portfolios in various subjects.

Contact us here.


The PEN Writers’ Emergency Fund is a resource for professional writers in acute, emergency financial crisis and is available to both Members and non-Members. If you know of anyone in need of the Fund’s assistance, please contact us.

To find further resources, information, or to make a donation, please visit www.pen.org/writersfund.



NOTE: To unsubscribe or edit the types of e-mails you receive from us, please use the orange links at the bottom of this newsletter. For any other issues, please contact us here.


Liu Xiaobo Transferred to Remote Prison in Liaoning Province
Liu Xiaobo, a former president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center who is serving an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power,” was moved from a detention center in Beijing to Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning, more than three months after his appeal was rejected. >> More

Burmese Poet Saw Wei Released from Prison
Saw Wei was freed nearly five months after his sentence expired and two and a half years after he was sent to prison for “inducing crime against public tranquility” for one of his poems. >> More

Poet and Belarusian PEN President Vladimir Neklyayev Detained
Vladimir Neklyayev, president of the Belarusian PEN Center and leader of the civil society organization “Speak the Truth,” was detained during a coordinated series of raids across Belarus. >> More


Literary Feature: 2010 Prison Writing Contest
Every year, the PEN Prison Writing Program recognizes the work of writers imprisoned throughout the country. Exiled from our schools and society, inmates submit manuscripts in every form to one of the only forums of public expression for incarcerated writers. >> More

Robert Lipsyte, Tim O’Brien, and Susan Orlean to Judge Inaugural PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing
The PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing was established to honor the best nonfiction books about sports. Biographical, investigative, historical, and analytical books of a strong and distinctive literary character will all be considered. >> More

2010 PEN World Voices Festival Conversations and Panel Discussions
This year’s Festival featured over 40 conversations and discussions with acclaimed authors from around the world, including:

Writing Inside, Writing Outside
Anthony Cardenales, Piper Kerman, and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc discuss the polarities of documenting and living the prison experience.

Iran: A Conversation with Maziar Bahari and Jason Jones
Maziar Bahari and The Daily Show’s Jason Jones reunite to talk about this tumultuous year in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Shirley Hazzard in Conversation with Richard Ford
Two modern-day masters discuss the grand themes—“time, love, the coming around of inexorable events.”

Visit PEN’s Festival multimedia archive for complete video, audio, and photos from this year’s events.

PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | NY, NY 10012 | (212) 334-

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

“General Than Shwe is crazy with power.”


The poem that threatened “public tranquility”

Saw Wei, pictured left, whose “only ‘crime’ was writing a poem,” has been released from prison in Burma, “nearly five months after his sentence expired and two and a half years after he was sent to prison for ‘inducing crime against public tranquility’.”

How did Saw Wei, according to the government in Myanmar, threaten public tranquility? He wrote “February the Fourteenth,” an eight-line poem about Valentine’s Day, which was published in Love Journal, a weekly magazine based in Rangoon. We published an anonymous English translation in PEN America 10: Fear Itself (the translation was later reprinted in Harpers):
Arensberg said:
Only once you have experienced deep pain
And madness
And like an adolescent
Thought the blurred photo of a model
Great art
Can you call it heartbreak.
Millions of people
Who know how to love
Please clap your gilded hands
And laugh out loud.
“February the Fourteenth” is an acrostic poem: When the first letters of each line are put together in Burmese, they read “General Than Shwe is crazy with power.” Than Shwe is Myanmar's 77-year-old military dictator. The issue of Love Journal in which “February the Fourteenth” was published sold out quickly after word of the coded message spread.

PEN continues to work with the Open Society Institute to pressure the government in Myanmar to follow the rule of law and release the “many other writers, journalists, and bloggers still imprisoned in that country today, including Nay Phone Latt,” who received the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award this year. Learn more about (and get involved in) the campaign here and here.

PEN American Center : The PEN Translation Fund

The PEN Translation Fund Announces the 2010 Grant Recipients

The PEN Translation Fund, now in its seventh year, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2010 competition. From among this year’s 139 applicants, the Fund’s Advisory Board has selected the following 11 projects:

Daniel Brunet for The Last Fire, a play by Dea Loher that examines the devastation wrought on a small community by the accidental death of a child. Following its premiere in Hamburg in 2008, it won both the 2008 Play of the Year award from Theater Heute and the 2008 Mülheim Drama Prize. (No publisher)

Alexander Dawe for a collection of short stories by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpmar (1901-1962), “the most surprising writer of 20th-century Turkish literature.” Opulent and lyrical in tone, Tanpmar’s stories orchestrate Western and Eastern influences to speak of ordinary people torn by their allegiances to the past. (No publisher)

Peter Golub for a collection of flash fictions by Linor Goralik, an underground Russian author beginning to make a name for herself in the literary mainstream. These very short stories catch their characters in midflight, like strangers on an airplane, combining the mythic with the banal to startling effect, as when the wolf, disobeying doctor’s orders, steps out for one last visit to the three little pigs. (No publisher)

Piotr Gwiazda for Kopenhaga by Grzegorz Wroblewski, a Polish poet who has lived in Copenhagen since 1985, “far from Poland and far from Denmark.” Intimate, sarcastic, lucid, and uncompromising, Kopenhaga addresses the immigrant experience in post-Cold War Europe with documentary evidence and intellectual rigor. (No publisher)

David Hull for Waverings, a novel by Mao Dun (1896-1981), who joined the nascent Chinese Communist Party in 1921. A depiction of the failed revolution of 1927 set among workers, peasants, and Communist Party officials in an unnamed county seat in Hubei Province, Waverings won its author great acclaim, but its pessimism drew criticism from doctrinaire communists. Hull’s translation is based on both the 1928 edition, published immediately after the events the novel describes, and the 1958 edition, significantly altered by the author. (No publisher)

Akinloye A. Ojo for Afaimo and other Poems (1972) the only poetry collection by Akinwumi Isola, a novelist, playwright, and one of the foremost figures in Yorùbá literature. Moving between exhortatory matter-of-factness and ecstatic incantation, these poems are a love song to the language in which they were written. “Is it really my fault? / The bug that ate the vegetable isn’t guilty. / There is a limit to a plant’s beauty. Whoever pursues Àsúnlé is guiltless.” (No U.S. publisher)

Angela Rodel for Holy Light, stories by Georgi Tenev, a Bulgarian playwright, novelist, film/TV screenwriter, and talk show host. Alloying political sci-fi with striking eroticism, the stories in Holy Light depict a world of endless, wearying revolution and apocalypse, where bodies have succumbed to a sinister bio-politics of relentless cruelty and perversion. “In first class they offered easy emancipation, perhaps even electrocution, but he was traveling economy class where they wouldn’t even serve him food.” (No publisher)

Margo Rosen for Poetry and Untruth, a novel by Anatoly Naiman. Juxtaposing the fates of four Russian poets of the early 20th century (Akhmatova, Pasternak, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva) with those of the generation that came of age during Khrushchev’s thaw, this is part novel, part historical document. It draws from the writings of Russia’s greatest poets and the author’s own experience (he was Akhmatova’s literary secretary from 1962-1966) to convey a century of creative life that transcends the direness of Soviet history. (No publisher)

Chip Rossetti for Animals in Our Days, short stories by Mohamad Makhzangi, an Egyptian psychiatrist, journalist, and fiction writer who was studying alternative medicine in Kiev during the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Drawing on Arabic traditions of animal fables, these stories, written with “translucent poetic sensibility,” use animals to comment on political oppression and the human capacity for encountering the magical and the inexplicable. (To be published by the American University in Cairo Press.)

Bilal Tanweer for Love in Chikiwara (And Other Such Adventures), a 1964 novel by Muhammad Khalid Akhtar (1920-2002)that haslong been considered a masterpiece of Urdu humor. Our narrator, a genial, gullible bakery owner, makes the serious mistake of befriending Qurban Ali Kattar, the “Thomas Hardy of Urdu Literature,” who shamelessly exploits his hero-worship of all writers. A supporting cast of religious scam artists, bookbinders, restaurant owners, butchers, and minor deities make this novel something new and strange and warmly welcoming. (No publisher)

Diane Thiel for The Great Green, a 1987 novel by Eugenia Fakinou. Hugely popular in Greece (where it is now in its 43rd reprint), The Great Green portrays a woman escaping the constrictions of family and societal expectations. It interweaves the whole span of Greek history, from the Minoans and Homer’s Achaeans to the late Byzantine and early 19th-century periods, into the story of a single day in our own time, when an unknown woman mysteriously appears in a Greek village.

• • •

The members of this year’s Advisory Board were Esther Allen, David Bellos, Susan Bernofsky, Edwin Frank, Michael Moore, and Jeffrey Yang. For the second year in a row, the Fund gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Amazon.com, which has assisted the Fund’s work this year with a gift of $25,000.

All 2010 applications to the Translation Fund that involve the translation of poetry by a living author (and that are not already under contract with a publisher) have been forwarded to the National Poetry Series to be considered for its Robert Fagles Prize. Offered every other year, the Fagles Prize is being judged this year by Susan Stewart. The winning translator will receive $2,000, the translated author will receive an honorarium of $500, and the project will be published by Graywolf Press. For further information, visit the site.

The Translation Fund was established in 2003 with a gift of $730,000 from an anonymous donor concerned about the paucity of translated literature in English. In the seven years of its existence, the Fund has supported 72 translation projects from more than 30 languages, many of which have gone on to be published to considerable acclaim. For more information about the Translation Fund and the list of projects funded in previous years please visit PEN.org.

Editors interested in getting in touch with the translator of any Translation Fund grant-winning project may contact Esther Allen (esther.allen@baruch.cuny.edu) or Nick Burd (nick@pen.org) for further information.

PEN American Center | 588 Broadway, Suite 303 | New York, NY 10012 | (212)

সোফিয়া ওয়াদিয়াঃ ভারতীয় পি ই এন প্রতিষ্ঠাতা

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