Friday, August 26, 2011

[English PEN Bulletin] David Hare wins PEN/Pinter Prize

pen bulletin 2

David Hare wins PEN/Pinter Prize

26 August 2011

The 2011 PEN/Pinter Prize is to be awarded to the playwright, Sir David Hare. 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’.

Lady Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter’s widow and chair of the panel of judges, said

“In the course of his long, distinguished career, David Hare has never failed to speak out fearlessly on the subject of politics in the broadest sense; this courage, combined with his rich creative talent, makes him a worthy winner of the PEN/Pinter Prize”.

David Hare will be presented with his prize at a public event at the British Library on 10 October, at which he will deliver an acceptance speech that will be published by Faber & Faber. He will also announce the winner of the International section of the prize, awarded to a persecuted Writer of Courage, selected by Hare and English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee.

To read more, visit the PEN website.

Tickets to the event cost £7.50 (£5 concessions) and are available via or by calling 01937 546546.


Playwright Sir David Hare wins 2011 PEN/Pinter Prize

August 26, 2011This year’s PEN/Pinter Prize is to be awarded to the playwright, Sir David Hare. The judges this year were Hanif Kureishi, Lady Antonia Fraser, Gillian Slovo, Claire Tomalin and Michael Billington.

David Hare will be presented with his prize at a public event at the British Library on 10 October. English playwright and theatre and film director David Hare has received huge critical acclaim over the last 40 years. Many of his plays offer a portrait of contemporary Britain and some of his notable works include Plenty (Faber and Faber, 1978),The Absence of War (Faber and Faber, 1993) and The Blue Room ¬(Faber and Faber, 1998). His numerous awards include a BAFTA, a Golden Bear and an Olivier Award. He was knighted in 1998.

Lady Antonia Fraser, Harold Pinter’s widow, comments:

“In the course of his long, distinguished career, David Hare has never failed to speak out fearlessly on the subject of politics in the broadest sense; this courage, combined with his rich creative talent, makes him a worthy winner of the PEN/Pinter Prize”.

The PEN/Pinter Prize was established in 2009 by the writers’ charity English PEN in memory of the Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter. 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 prize is shared with an imprisoned writer of courage selected by English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee in association with David Hare. This half of the prize is awarded to someone who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs. The winner will be announced at the public event on 10 October where they will accept their prize alongside David Hare.

The British Library is the home of Harold Pinter’s archive. David Hare will make a speech at the British Library event and this will be published afterwards by Faber and Faber.

Tickets, prices £7.50 (£5 concessions), are available via, by calling 01937 546546 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm), or in person at the British Library. Press tickets are available. Please call Rachel Duffield at Colman Getty on 020 7631 2666.

Notes to Editors

  • Sir David Hare was a co-founder of the Portable Theatre Company acting, directing and writing plays from the late 1960s. His first play Slag (Faber and Faber) was produced in London at the Hampstead Theatre Club in 1970. He was a resident dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre, London and later at the Nottingham Playhouse.

    In 1975 he co-founded the Joint Stock Theatre Company. He began writing for the National Theatre in 1978 where his plays included Plenty (Faber and Faber, 1978), a portrait of disillusionment in post-war Britain and Pravda; and A Fleet Street Comedy, an attack on the English Press written by Howard Brenton (Methuen, 1985). He became an Associate Director of the National Theatre in 1984 and has since seen many of his plays produced such as The Absence of War (Faber and Faber, 1993) about three British institutions – the Anglican church, the legal system and the Labour Party. He has also adapted Chekhov’s Ivanov (Methuen, 1997) and Platanov (Faber and Faber, 2001).

    More recent plays include The Permanent Way (Faber and Faber, 2003) the story of a political dream turned sour which explores the privatisation of British Rail and opened at the National Theatre in January 2004. His play Stuff Happens (Faber and Faber, 2004) was premiered at the same theatre in 2005, and is about the invasion of Iraq. David Hare was knighted in 1998 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

  • English PEN is the founding centre of a worldwide writers’ association, with centres in more than one hundred countries, whose members work to promote literature and defend free expression.
  • English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) was established in 1960 to campaign on behalf of imprisoned writers around the world.
  • The PEN/Pinter Prize is supported by the generosity of Ruth Maxted, the Thompson Family Charitable Trust and an anonymous donor.
  • Harold Pinter (10 October 1930 – 24 December 2008) was a Vice President of English PEN. He visited Turkey on behalf of the WiPC with Arthur Miller in 1985, where they were escorted by Orhan Pamuk.
  • The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

Public event information

10 October 2011, 6.30pm

The Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road

Prices £7.50 (£5 concessions). Tickets are available via, or by calling 01937 546546

For more information please contact Rachel Duffield at Colman Getty
020 7631 2666 /

Or Miki Lentin, British Library
020 7412 7112 /

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PEN News: August 19, 2011‏

PEN News: August 19, 2011‏

American Centre


Join PEN and The New School for an Evening with Liao Yiwu

Poet and novelist Liao Yiwu, one of China’s most censored writers, makes his first U.S. appearance in nearly two decades. He joins us on the eve of the publication of his new book, God Is Red: The Secret Story of How Christianity Survived and Flourished in Communist China. [Purchase tickets today]


Announcing the 2011 PEN Literary Awards Recipients

PEN is pleased to announce the winners and runners-up of the 2011 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. Among the 17 awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes totaling nearly $150,000 are one revived and three new awards. [More]

U.N. Calls for Release of Liu Xiaobo

A U.N. panel comprised of independent legal experts ruled that 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo—currently serving an 11-year sentence—and his wife, Liu Xia—under de facto house arrest—are being held in violation of international law, and calls on China to release them immediately. [More]

PEN Finds Success and Silence During China Trip

Last month a small group of representatives from PEN American Center and PEN International visited Beijing and Hong Kong, and learned firsthand about some of the frustrations that artists and writers in China are facing today. [More]

PEN World Voices Joins the Word Alliance

The PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature joins the six other international literary festivals of the ground-breaking Word Alliance, a collaboration which aims to present the best authors to international audiences at events across the world. [More]


Recently at the Daily PEN American: lessons from a “homonym spelldown” with Jonathan Franzen, a chat with Kimiko Hahn and new U.S. poet laureate Philip Levine, a long-lost conversation with James Baldwin, and tips on how to survive 23 years in prison. Coming up: readings and talks with Amber Flora Thomas and Gabrielle Calvocoressi, a conversation with exiled Chinese writer Zhao Qing, and excerpts from the 2011 Translation Fund recipients.

Introducing Two New, Ongoing Poetry Series

While the Poetry Relay aims to trace the topography of influence that connects contemporary poets to their peers and predecessors, the PEN Poetry Series, curated by guest editor Ben Mirov, publishes fresh new work by emerging and established writers, and delivers it to your inbox twice a month. [More]

Susan Bernofsky to Serve as Guest Translation Editor

Starting in September, Susan Bernofsky, widely considered one of the best English translators of German literature, will begin a stint as guest translation editor for The Daily PEN American. Until then, you can read her dispatches from the world of literary translation. [More]


Sept. 15–18:
PEN at the Brooklyn Book Festival

October 12:
PEN Literary Awards Ceremony

November 1:
PEN New Members/New Books Party

BECOME A MEMBER Writers can now apply for PEN membership after the publication of their first book or after producing one work in a professional setting.

[Apply for membership]


A number of internship opportunities at PEN are available starting in the fall. Learn how you can get involved with promoting literature and defending free expression.

[See internship listings]

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tajikistan: BBC journalist on trial

Tajikistan: BBC journalist on trial

The trial of journalist Urunboy Usmonov of the British Broadcasting Service's Central Asian Service, on behalf of whom we have been campaigning since his arrest in June this year, began last week. Usmonov is indicted on fabricated charges of 'complicity in the activities of banned extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir'. English PEN is calling for the trumped up charges against Usmonov to be dropped and for the Tajik authorities to ensure that no individual is persecuted for carrying out legitimate journalistic activities. Please send letters of appeal - details below.

Usmonov was originally arrested on 13 June 2011, accused of membership of the banned extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He was later reported to have been indicted on charges of 'making public calls for mass disorder', which carry a maximum 15-year sentence. This was later changed again, to 'complicity in the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir', for which he faces up to five years in prison if convicted. The BBC has vehemently denied the charges against Usmonov, insisting that any contact he had with Hizb ut-Tahrir members was as part of his journalistic duties.

Whilst in detention, there were widespread concerns for Usmonov's health as he suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure. Hamid Ismailov, an English PEN member who works with Usmonov at the BBC Central Asian Service, visited him in prison on 27 June 2011 and reported that he was 'horrified' to find his colleague in an extremely frail physical and psychological state. English PEN joined Usmonov's colleagues at the BBC for weekly vigils outside BBC's World Service Bush House (photos here), until he was released on bail on 14 July 2011, having signed a written pledge to remain in Tajikistan to face the charges.

Usmonov's trial began one month later, on 15 August 2011, in the Northern city of Khujand . Our colleagues at the BBC World Service published the following statement last week:

BBC World Service is concerned about the treatment of its correspondent, Urunboy Usmonov, after details of torture emerged during his trial which commenced this week in Khojand , Tajikistan .

When questioned, Mr Usmonov told the court that he'd been tortured in custody following his arrest on 13th June this year, including beatings and security officers burning his arms with cigarettes. He also said he'd been forced to sign a confession which had been dictated to him.

The BBC condemns the torture of Mr Usmonov and has asked the Tajikistan authorities to investigate these incidents.

The BBC has consistently maintained Mr Usmonov's innocence and regards the allegations as completely unfounded. Meetings and interviews with people representing all shades of opinion are part of the work of any BBC journalist.

The BBC has asked the Tajik authorities to drop all charges against Mr Usmonov so he can return to his work as a highly respected journalist and writer.

According to Usmonov's lawyer, Faiziniso Vokhidova, the prosecutors have 'claimed as evidence' articles about the banned extremist group which Usmonov had downloaded from the internet, as well as the fact that he had met with several of their members. His lawyer stated that he has also been accused of using the BBC as a platform for Hizb ut-Tahrir propaganda.

Useful Links:

For more information on Usmonov's case, please see the following:


Please send letters and emails to the authorities in Tajikistan (NB A sample letter follow):

- Calling for the trumped up charges against Usmonov to be dropped immediately;
- Condemning the reported torture of Usmonov and asking the authorities to investigate these claims.

Appeals to be sent to:

Mr. Emomali Rahmon,
President of Tajikistan,

Tajikistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dushanbe Rudaki 42
Fax. 992 372 210 259

Please also send copies of your appeals to the Embassy in London:

His Excellency Mr. Erkin Kasymov
Tajikistan Embassy
26-28 Hammersmith Grove,
W6 0NE
Fax: 0208 834 1100

Please do let us know if you send an appeal and certainly if you should receive a response from the authorities by emailing


Please do write a more personal letter if you have time – the following is just an example



I am writing to you on as a member of English PEN, the founding centre of the international association of writers, to express my concern for BBC journalist Urunboy Usmonov whose trial on fabricated charges of ‘complicity in the activities of banned extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir’ began last week.

Urunboy Usmonov was originally arrested on 13 June 2011, accused of membership of the banned extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He was later reported to have been indicted on charges of ‘making public calls for mass disorder’, which carry a maximum 15-year sentence. This was later changed again, to ‘complicity in the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir’, for which he faces up to five years in prison if convicted. These charges are widely believed to be fabricated and have been vehemently denied by the BBC, which insists that any contact Mr Usmonov had with Hizb ut-Tahrir members was as part of his journalistic duties. I am therefore calling for these charges to be dropped immediately in order to enable Mr Usmonov to return to his work as a highly respected journalist and writer.

Furthermore, I was troubled to learn that, when questioned during his trial last week, Mr Usmonov told the court that he had been tortured whilst in custody. Mr Usmonov claims to have been subjected to beatings following his arrest, and stated that security officers had burned his arms with cigarettes. He also claims to have been forced to sign a confession which had been dictated to him, pledging to remain in Tajikistan to face the charges. I am deeply concerned by these reports of torture, and call upon the authorities to investigate these claims as a matter of urgency and to bring those responsible to justice.

I would welcome your comments on my appeal.

Yours sincerely,


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Announcing the Recipients of the 2011 PEN Literary Awards‏


One Revived and Three New Awards to Be Presented

New York City, August 10, 2011—PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, today announced the winners and runners up of the 2011 PEN Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. Next year will mark PEN’s 90th anniversary. For more than 50 of those years, PEN’s Literary Awards program has honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature.

This year, PEN will present 17 awards, fellowships, grants, and prizes—including one that has been revived after a five-year hiatus, the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, and three awards offered for the first time ever: the PEN Emerging Writers Awards, the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and the PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing. With the help of its partners and supporters, PEN will confer nearly $150,000 in 2011 to some of the most gifted writers, editors, and translators working today.

Award winners and runners up will be honored at the 2011 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, October 12, 2011, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City.

“PEN’s literary awards program is at the heart of what we do,” said PEN President Anthony Appiah. “What ties all our work together—whether we are defending free expression or supporting translation or sustaining literacy—is the aim of nurturing literary culture. By publicly honoring the writers, editors, and translators who create the works we read, we celebrate the connections between readers and writers that shape our literary community. It is our hope that the awards will sustain writers with our respect and our gratitude, as well as help to bring them to the attention of new readers. We owe a special debt of thanks to the sterling judges, who are themselves distinguished writers, and to the generous donors who endow these awards.”
Alice Quinn, PEN Awards Committee Chair, added: “The PEN Literary Awards convey something very specific and marvelous to the winners and finalists: the high regard of their peers and heroes.”


PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): To a fiction writer whose debut work, published in 2010, represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.* Judges: Susan Cheever, Paul Harding, and Yiyun Li. (*This year, the judges have chosen two winners to share the award.)

Susanna Daniel, Stiltsville (Harper Perennial)

Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead)

Runner up
Teddy Wayne, Kapitoil (Harper Perennial)

PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): For a book of literary nonfiction on the subject of the physical and biological sciences published in 2010. Award presented for the first time in 2011. Judges for the inaugural award: Rita Charon, Bill McKibben, and Richard Panek.

Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner)

Runner Up
David Abram, Becoming Animal (Pantheon)

PEN/W. G. Sebald Award for a Fiction Writer in Mid-Career ($10,000): To an author who has published at least three significant works of literary fiction. Judges: Jill Ciment, Salvatore Scibona, and Gary Shteyngart.

Aleksandar Hemon

PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000): A biennial award for a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective published in 2009 or 2010. Judges: Charles R. Morris, Elaine Showalter, and Lee Siegel.

Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise of America’s Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books, 2010)

Runners Up
John W. Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns (Random House, 2010)

PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Awards for an American Playwright in Mid-Career and a Master American Dramatist ($7,500): A pair of awards, which honor: a Master American Dramatist and an American Playwright in Mid-Career. Judges: Kenny Leon, Laura Linney, and Thomas Lynch.

American Playwright in Mid-Career
Marcus Gardley

Master American Dramatist
David Henry Hwang

PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($5,000): For a book of essays published in 2010 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem of the essay form. Award revived after a five-year hiatus. Judges: André Aciman, Jo Ann Beard, and William H. Gass.

Mark Slouka, Essays from the Nick of Time: Reflections and Refutations (Graywolf Press)

Runners Up
Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)

Alex Ross, Listen to This (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): For a nonfiction book on the subject of sports published in 2010. Judges: Madeleine Blais, Buzz Bissinger, and Phillip Lopate.

George Dohrmann, Play Their Hearts Out (Ballantine Books)

PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): To a writer whose body of work represents an exceptional contribution to the field. Award presented for the first time in 2011. Judges for the inaugural award: Roy Blount, Jr., Terry McDonell, and David Remnick.

Roger Angell

PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): For a distinguished biography published in 2010. Judges: Brad Gooch, Benjamin Taylor, and Amanda Vaill.

Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown and Company)

Runners Up
Wendy Moffat, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Justin Spring, Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry ($5,000): To an emerging American poet of any age showing promise of further literary achievement. Judges: Carolyn Forché, Kimiko Hahn, and Terrance Hayes.

Ishion Hutchinson, Far District (Peepal Tree Press Ltd.)

PEN/Nora Magid Award ($5,000): To a magazine editor whose high literary standards and taste have contributed significantly to the excellence of the publication he or she edits. Judges: Lan Samantha Chang, Willing Davidson, and Jane Smiley.

Brigid Hughes, Founding Editor of A Public Space

PEN Open Book Award ($5,000): For an exceptional work of literature by an author of color published in 2010. Judges: Cornelius Eady, Nam Le, and Lizzie Skurnick.

Manu Joseph, Serious Men (W. W. Norton & Company)

Runner Up
John Murillo,Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher Books)

PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship ($5,000): To an author of children’s or young-adult fiction, who has published at least two books, and for whom monetary support is particularly needed to complete a book-length work-in-progress. Judges: Coe Booth, Marina Budhos, and Louis Sachar.

Lucy Frank, Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, a novel in verse (available for publication)

PEN Award for Poetry in Translation ($3,000): For a book-length translation of poetry into English published in 2010. Judge: Martha Cooley.

Khaled Mattawa, Adonis: Selected Poems (Yale University Press, The Margellos World Republic of Letters Series)

Runners Up
Jonathan Galassi, Canti by Giacomo Leopardi (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Michael Hofmann, Angina Days by Gunter Eich (Princeton University Press)

Charles Simic,Oranges and Snow by Milan Djordjević (Princeton University Press)

PEN Translation Prize ($3,000): For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2010. Judges: Jonathan Cohen, Barbara Harshav, and Sara Khalili.

Ibrahim Muhawi, Journal of an Ordinary Grief by Mahmoud Darwish (Archipelago Books)

Runners Up
David Bellos, Hocus Bogus by Romain Gary, publishing as Émile Ajar (Yale University Press)

Malcolm C. Lyons with Ursula Lyons, The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights (Penguin)

PEN Translation Fund Grants ($3,000): To support the translation of book-length works into English. Judges: David Bellos, Susan Bernofsky, Edwin Frank, Michael F. Moore,* Michael Reynolds, Natasha Wimmer, and Jeffrey Yang. (*Non-voting chair of the PEN Translation Fund Advisory Council.)

Amiri Ayanna, The St. Katharinental Sister Book: Lives of the Sisters of the Dominican Convent at Diessenhofen (from Middle High German)

Neil Blackadder, The Test (Good Simon Korach), a play by Swiss dramatist and novelist Lukas Bärfuss (from German)

Clarissa Botsford, Sworn Virgin, a novel by Albanian writer and filmmaker Elvira Dones (from Italian)

Steve Bradbury, Salsa, a collection of poems by Taiwanese poet Hsia Yü (from Chinese)

Annmarie S. Drury, collection of poems by Tanzanian poet Euphrase Kezilahabi (from Swahili)

Diane Nemec Ignashev, Paranoia, a novel by Belarusian author Viktor Martinovich (from Russian)

Chenxin Jiang, Memories of the Cowshed, a memoir by Chinese author Ji Xianlin (from Chinese)

Hilary B. Kaplan, Rilke Shake, a collection of poetry by Brazilian writer Angélica Freitas (from Portuguese)

Catherine Schelbert, Flametti, or the Dandyism of the Poor, a novel by German writer Hugo Ball (from German)

Joel Streicker, Birds in the Mouth, a collection of short stories by Argentine writer Samanta Schweblin (from Spanish)

Sarah L. Thomas, Turnaround, a literary thriller by Spanish writer Mar Goméz Glez (from Spanish)

PEN Emerging Writers Awards ($1,660): One award each to an up-and-coming fiction writer, nonfiction writer, and poet who has been published in a distinguished literary journal, but who has yet to publish a book-length work. Awards presented for the first time in 2011. Judges for the inaugural awards: Reif Larsen, David Lehman, and Robin Romm.

Smith Henderson (nominated by Hannah Tinti of One Story)

Runner Up
Elliott Holt (nominated by Joel Whitney of Guernica)

David Stuart MacLean (nominated by Ladette Randolph of Ploughshares)

Runner Up
Chester Phillips (nominated by Hattie Fletcher of Creative Nonfiction

Adam Day (nominated by Erica Wright of Guernica)

Runner Up: Brett Fletcher Lauer (nominated by Robert Casper of jubilat)

PEN will begin accepting submissions for 2012 Awards on October 1, 2011. See a list of all 2012 PEN Awards and information about submission guidelines here. For questions about any of the awards, please contact us. For questions about winners or runners up for the 2011 Awards, please contact Alena Graedon, PEN’s Manager of Literary Awards and Membership.

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

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nurmuhemmet Yasin

Source : Radio Free Asia

Nurmuhemmet Yasin

Source : English PEN

Nurmuhemmet Yasin was arrested in Kashgar on 29 November 2004, shortly after the publication of his short story 'Wild Pigeon' ('Yawa Kepter') in the Uighur-language Kashgar Literature Journal. Upon arrest, the authorities confiscated Yasin's personal computer, which contained around 1,600 poems, commentaries, stories, and one unfinished novel. After a closed trial in February 2005, at which Yasin was reportedly denied a lawyer, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for 'inciting Uighur separatism'.

The charge against Yasin is believed to be based on the publication of 'Wild Pigeon', a short, tragic and beautiful tale of a bird that is captured by humans. Yasin's story was widely circulated and recommended for one of the biggest Uighur literary websites in the Uighur Autonomous Region for an outstanding literary award. However, it also attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities, who apparently consider the fable to be a tacit criticism of their government in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

Yasin's sentence was upheld on appeal by the Kashgar Intermediate Court, and he was transferred on 19 May 2005 to Urumchi No. 1 Jail, where he remains detained today. According to PEN's information, he has been permitted no visitors since his arrest. He is married with two young sons.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin is an award-winning and prolific freelance Uighur writer and Honorary Member of English PEN. He has published many highly acclaimed literary works and prose-poems in recent years, including the poetry collections First Love, Crying from the Heart, and Come on Children. In 2008, Yasin was shortlisted for the inaugural ArtVenture Freedom to Create Prize, a unique prize designed to celebrate the role of the arts in promoting human rights and highlighting the forgotten frontline of artists defending their freedom of expression at great personal sacrifice. The nominated piece of work, 'Wild Pigeon' (Yawa Kepter) has been translated from Uighur into English and Chinese by Dolkun Kamberi, director of Radio Free Asia's Uighur service. The English translation is available online in two parts:

Writing sample: From 'Wild Pigeon'. Translated by Dr Dolkun Kamberi, Radio Free Asia.

I gaze at my mother for the last time. She seems peaceful, and brave. I stretch my damaged mouth out toward her. My beak, my only remaining weapon, an enemy to the humans, it protected and fed me, and then led me into the humans' trap. It is broken now, shattered by my failed collision with the iron bars.

The poisons from the strawberry flow through me like the sound of freedom itself, along with gratitude that now, now, finally, I can die freely. I feel as if my soul is on fire - soaring and free.

Nurmuhemmet Yasin is an Honorary Member of English PEN, American PEN and the Indepedent Chinese PEN Centre. We firmly believe that he has been detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and continue to call for his immediate and unconditional release.


Write to the authorities

Please write to the Chinese Ambassador in London calling for Nurmuhemmet Yasin's immediate and unconditional release from prison:

His Excellency Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the People's Republic of China
49 Portland Place

Fax: 020 7636 2981

Write to Nurmuhemmet

If you would like to write directly to Nurmuhemmet Yasin in prison, please contact for more details.

Read here

Wild Pigeon—by Nurmuhemmet Yasin. Part 1.

Image: RFA

Translator's note: This story was first published in issue No. 5 of the 2004 Kashgar Literature Magazine by a young freelance writer, Nurmuhemmet Yasin, to widespread acclaim among the Uyghur people. The author has since been detained by the Chinese authorities because of its strong portrayal of a people deeply unhappy with life under Beijing's rule. RFA broadcast a dramatized version of the story in Uyghur earlier this year.

Dream or reality?

Here I am, seemingly in flight in the deep blue sky. I cannot tell if I am dreaming or awake. A bracing wind cuts into my wing—my spirit is soaring and my body is powerful and strong. The glow of morning seems endless, and sun streams brightly, beautifully on the world. Such beautiful landscapes! I climb ever higher as my spirits soar.

The strawberry fields disappear from view, and the world is suddenly broader, like a deep blue carpet spread out beneath me. This is a wonderland I have never seen before. I love this place as I love my hometown—with all my heart—all of it so beautiful beneath my wings.

Now houses and neighborhoods appear below, along with living, moving creatures—they must be the humans whom my mother warned me to avoid. Maybe my mother has grown old. They don’t look dangerous to me—how could such creatures, who crawl so slowly on the Earth, be more powerful than birds who soar through the skies?

"Mankind's tricks are legion; their schemes are hidden in their bellies; be sure that you do not make carelessness your jailer."

Perhaps I am wrong, but they don’t look so terrible. My mother has always told me they are treacherous, scheming creatures who would as soon trap and cage us as they would look at us. How can that be? Perhaps I am not bright enough to understand this. Suddenly I am overcome with the desire to see and know these humans, and I fly lower, hovering above them and seeing everything more clearly. And always my mother says to me: "Mankind's tricks are legion; their schemes are hidden in their bellies; be sure that you do not make carelessness your jailer."

Suddenly I know that I want to see these schemes of mankind. Why would they hide them in their bellies? This is impossible for me to understand.

The descent

I descend gradually, hovering in the air above the dwelling-places. The things below are now very clear to me. I can see people, their cows, their sheep and chickens, and many other things I’ve never seen before. A group of pigeons is flying around, with some of them perched on a branch.

I drop down to join in their conversation—or is to have a rest? I can’t remember clearly now. My feelings at the time were quite confused. But I want very much to know more about their lives.

"Where are you from?" one pigeon asks me. He is older than the rest, but I cannot tell for sure if he is the leader of this group. Anyway, I am not one of them, so his position is not that important to me. And so I answer simply: "I am from the strawberry shoal."

I drop down to join in their conversation—or is to have a rest? I can’t remember clearly now. My feelings at the time were quite confused. But I want very much to know more about their lives.

"I heard about that place from my grandpa—our ancestors also come from there," he replies. "But I thought it was quite far away—and that it would take months to fly here from there. We cannot fly so far. Perhaps you are lost?"

Was he so old he couldn’t fly that small distance in a few days, as I had done? Perhaps he was far older even than he looked—or perhaps he was thinking of a different, more distant strawberry shoal. If his grandfather came from the same strawberry shoal, we might even be relatives, I think. But to the old pigeon I reply: "I am not lost—I was practicing flying and came here intentionally. I’ve been flying for just a few days, but I haven’t eaten anything since I left home."

What is a soul?

The old pigeon looks surprised. "You must be a wild pigeon," he says. "Everyone says we are not as brave as you, that we think no further than the branches on which we rest and the cages in which we sleep. I have always lived here and have ventured no farther out—and why should I? Here I have a branch for resting and a cage for living, and everything is ready-made for me. Why would we leave here—to suffer? Besides, I am married. I have a family. Where would I go? My hosts treat me well," he concludes, pecking a bit at his own feathers.

"I have heard some say that mankind is terrible," I reply. "They say that if humans catch us, they will enslave our souls. Is this true?"

"Soul? What’s a soul, grandfather?" a young pigeon sitting beside me asks. I am stunned that he doesn’t know this word, doesn’t know what a soul is. What are these pigeons teaching their children? To live without a soul, without understanding what a soul is, is pointless. Do they not see this? To have a soul, to have freedom—these things cannot be bought or given as gifts; they are not to be had just through praying, either.

"Soul? What’s a soul, grandfather?" a young pigeon sitting beside me asks. I am stunned that he doesn’t know this word.

Freedom of the soul, I feel, was crucial for these pitiful pigeons. Without it, life is meaningless, and yet they seem never even to have heard of the word.

The old pigeon touches the head of his grandchild, saying: "I don’t know either what a soul is. I once heard the word from my own grandfather, who heard the world from his great-grandfather. And he perhaps heard of it from his great-great-grandfather. My own grandfather sometimes said: 'We pigeons lost our souls a long time ago,' and perhaps this is the soul that this wild pigeon mentions now—and today we possess not even a shadow of such a thing."

The old pigeon turns to face me and asks, "Tell me, child, do you know what a soul is?"

The pigeons' debate

I freeze, realizing that I cannot begin to answer the very question my words have prompted. Finally I reply, "I cannot. But my mother tells me I possess my father’s daring and adventurous spirit…Once it matures, I will certainly know and understand what a soul is."

The old pigeon replies, "That must be your father’s spirit in you now. It’s not only our fathers’ generations we have lost, but the soul of the entire pigeon community has already disappeared. My mother and her family never mentioned the soul to us, either, nor have I used the word with my own children. So perhaps we have already entered an era without souls. How lovely it would be, to return to that earlier time." The old pigeon smiles, and falls into a pleasant reverie.

"Without your souls," I tell him, "generations of pigeons will be enslaved by human beings—who can make a meal of you at any time. Even if they set you free, you will not leave your family and your rations of food behind. You do not want to throw away your resting place, and a small amount of pigeon food. Yet you let your descendants became the slaves of mankind. You will need a leader, but first you must free your soul—and understand what a soul is. Why don’t you come with me and we can try to ask my mother?"

"I already have one foot in the grave," he tells me, "and my pigeon cage is safe.

I cannot tell now whether it’s the old pigeon or myself I want to educate about the soul. Perhaps it is both.

"I already have one foot in the grave," he tells me, "and my pigeon cage is safe. Where shall I look to understand the soul? I wouldn’t recognize a soul if I saw one, and I wouldn’t know where to look for it. And how will it help me if I find mine? Here our lives are peaceful. Nothing happens, and our lives are tranquil. How can I ask others to give up such a life to find something whose value we cannot see?"

I contemplate the old pigeon’s words—which sound wise at first but, on reflection, are entirely wrong. Suddenly I feel ashamed, embarrassed, to find myself holding such a philosophical discussion with these pigeons, these soulless birds. I decide to go and find my mother.

Strange words replace mother's milk

At this point, a group of pigeons descends to the branch beside us. I hear them speaking among themselves, but I cannot understand their words. Perhaps they are using their own mother tongue. We also have some such foreigners occasionally flying to our place. Are they foreign vistors? Friends or relatives of the old pigeon? I cannot tell. Nor can I tell whether they wish to include me in their discussion.

"How are you, my child," the old pigeon asks, pecking at the feathers of a smaller pigeon.

"Not good. I'm hungry," the smaller pigeon replies. "Why doesn’t my mother feed me any more?" The small pigeon talks on about pigeon food—I think I hear the word corn or millet, or hemp. They use many different names for pigeon food that I don’t know. These tamed pigeons are very strange—so many of their words I don’t recognize.

These tamed pigeons are very strange—so many of their words I don’t recognize.

"Your mother is trying to save all the nourishment for the siblings you will have soon," the old pigeon replies. "You have to wait for the humans to come and feed us."

"I cannot wait—I should fly out to the desert and look for myself," the young bird replies.

"Please listen to me, my good little boy. It is too dangerous—if you go there, someone will catch you and eat you. Please don’t go." The small pigeon tries to calm its expression. These pigeons all seem to listen to this elder of the group.

Acceptance of a caged life

These pigeons are living among humans who would catch them and eat them, but how they can do this I don’t understand. Have I misunderstood the word "eat"? Maybe it means the same thing as "care for" in their dialect. If this is a borrowed word, maybe I misinterpreted it. And yet this is an important word—every pigeon must know it. My mother tells me to be careful—"don’t let the humans catch you and eat you." If these pigeons fear being caught and eaten, how can they possibly have lived among humans? Perhaps they have even forgotten that they have wings, and perhaps they wouldn’t want to leave the pigeon cage to which they have grown so accustomed.

"So, how is our host?" the small pigeon begins to ask the old pigeon.

"Very well," his elder replies.

"But perhaps our host is like other humans, and would catch and eat us if given the chance."

"That is different," the elder replied. "The humans keep us in the pigeon cage to feed us, and it is right that they would eat us if necessary; it is a necessity for mankind to be able to catch us and eat us. That is the way it should be. No pigeon among us is permitted to object to this arrangement."

Who is the enemy?

Now I understand that "eat" has the same meaning here as it does at home. A moment ago I was trying to guess what exactly they mean when they say the word "eat." Now I don't have to guess any more.

"But our host has spilled all of our food—and the largest pigeon has eaten it all. I cannot begin to fight for the food I need. What can I do? I grow weaker and thinner by the day. I cannot survive this way for long."

"You too will grow up slowly, and you too will learn how to snatch a little food from around the big pigeon there. But you must on no account give away anything edible to others. That is how to survive here."

Pigeons should learn to be satisfied with what they have. Don’t try to argue for what is surplus to requirements.

"But, grandpa—" the young pigeon starts.

"That's enough, my child. Don’t say any more. Pigeons should learn to be satisfied with what they have. Don’t try to argue for what is surplus to requirements."

A larger space

At this stage I feel compelled to speak, and I interrupt. "You have cut away at his freedom," I say. "You should give him a larger space. You should let him live at according to his own free will." I simply cannot remain silent. To live as the old pigeon suggests would destroy all fellowship among our species.

"Ah, you do not understand our situation," the older pigeon dismisses me. "To anger our host is impossible. If anyone disobeys his rules and ventures out from his territory, all of us will land inside a cage—staring out from behind bars for months. We would lose the very branch on which we are sitting."

What exactly is this thing, a pigeon cage? I have no hint, no clue. These pigeons say they are so terrified of landing in the cage, but at the same time they are afraid of losing it. Most perplexing of all is how any of these pigeons could bear to live among men. Have I discussed this with my own grandfather? I don’t believe he ever gave me a clear answer.

What exactly is this thing, a pigeon cage? I have no hint, no clue. These pigeons say they are so terrified of landing in the cage, but at the same time they are afraid of losing it.

Instead I tell the older pigeon, "You sound exactly like one them—one of the men. Taking food from weaker and smaller pigeons and forbidding them to resist. Then you try very hard to cover your bad behavior. How can this environment provide for the growth and health of future generations? You are depraved—ignorant and stupid."

"Don’t insult the humans," he replies indignantly. "Without them, we wouldn’t be here today. Take your anti-human propaganda somewhere else."

How could he fail to see that I meant no harm—that I intended only to help? Perhaps I should explain further.

A dream of destiny

"You have no sense of responsibility—you are condemning others to this existence; you are pushing your legacy to the edge of the bonfire," I continue. I want to go on, to press the same message even more vividly. But suddenly I hear a piercing sound and feel a vicious pain in my legs. I try to fly, but my wings hang empty at my sides. All the other pigeons fly up and hover above me.

"Look at you, stirring up trouble—now you will taste life inside a pigeon cage," one of them shouts. "Then let’s see if you carry on this way again!"

Suddenly I understand. The old pigeon drew me in toward him to set me up so his host could catch me. Pain fills my heart. The humans weren’t any danger to me—it was my own kind who betrayed me in hope of their own gain. I cannot understand it, and I am grieved. Suddenly I am seized with the idea that I cannot give in—as long as I can still break off my legs, I can free myself. Using all of my strength, I fly one way and another in turn.

Pain fills my heart. The humans weren’t any danger to me—it was my own kind who betrayed me in hope of their own gain.

"Don't be silly, child, stand up! What is the matter with you?" The voice is my mother’s. She stares at me and I realize that I am unhurt.

My mother says:" "You had a nightmare." "I had a very terrible dream." I embrace my mother closely, and tell her everything in my dream.

"Child, in your dream you saw our destiny," she replies. "Mankind is pressing in on us, little by little, taking up what once was entirely our space. They want to chase us from the land we have occupied for thousands of years and to steal our land from us. They want to change the character of our heritage—to rob us of our intelligence and our kinship with one another. Strip us of our memory and identity. Perhaps in the near future, they will build factories and high-rises here, and the smoke that comes from making products we don’t need will seep into the environment and poison our land and our water. Any rivers that remain won’t flow pure and sweet as they do now but will run black with filth from the factories."

Setting out from the strawberry shoal

"This invasion by mankind is terrible," she says. "Future generations will never see pure water and clean air—and they will think that this is as it has always been. They will fall into mankind’s trap. These humans are coming closer and closer to us now, and soon it will be too late to turn back. No one else can save us from this fate—we must save ourselves. Let’s go outside. It’s time for me to tell you about your father."

She leads me outside. Around us the land is covered in wildflowers and a carpet of green—no roads, no footprints, just an endless vast steppe. Our land sits on a cliff that overhangs a riverbank, with thousands of pigeon nests nearby. A pristine river flows beneath, sending a sort of lullaby us to where we stand. To me, this is the most beautiful and safest place on Earth. Without humans encroaching upon us, we might live in this paradise forever.

"This is your land," my mother says. "This is the land of your ancestors. Your father and grandfather, both leaders of all the pigeons in the territory, each helped to make it even more beautiful. Their work, their legacy, only raised us up even higher among the pigeons. The weight on your shoulders is heavy, and I hope only that you can follow in your father’s brave footsteps. Every morning I have trained you, teaching you to fly hundreds of miles in a day. Your muscles are hard and strong and your wisdom is already great."

"This is your land," my mother says. "This is the land of your ancestors. Your father and grandfather, both leaders of all the pigeons in the territory, each helped to make it even more beautiful.

"Your body is mature, and now your mind, your intelligence, must catch up. Always, always be cautious with humans. Don’t think that because they walk on the ground beneath us that you are safe. They have guns. They can shoot you down from thousands of meters away. Do you know how your father died?"

"No," I tell her. "You started to tell me once but then stopped, saying it wasn’t yet time."

"Well, now the time has come," she says. "A few days ago, I saw several humans exploring around here. They followed us carefully with their eyes. We must find a safe place before they come here. It was at their hands that your father died."

A proud heritage

"Please tell me, Mother. How did he fall into their hands?" My mother contemplates—her face is sad.

"One day, your father led a group of pigeons looking for food for us. Usually, they chose safe areas with plenty of food. Your father always led these missions—he was a strong and responsible leader. So this time he led the others out, but after several days he hadn’t returned. I was terribly worried. Usually, if he found a place with a great deal of food more than a half-day’s flight from here, we would move our nest. He would never go so far or stay so long away from home."

"In my heart I was certain he had had an accident. At that time, you and your younger brothers and sisters had only recently hatched, so I couldn’t leave you to go and look for him. Eventually, after several months, one of the pigeons who flew out with your father returned. This only made me more certain that that your father had fallen into some kind of trap. Then all the rest of them returned safely—one after another. All except your father."

All the while I expect my mother to wail or lament, but here a brave glint comes into her eye.

"Your father was a pigeon king with a regal spirit. How could he protect the others if he could not protect himself? How could a pigeon who was trapped by humans come back and fulfill his role as pigeon king? The humans trapped him, kept him, and in keeping with the traditions of the royal household, he bit off his tongue. He couldn’t bear one more second locked in that pigeon cage. The pigeon cage was dyed red with his blood. He refused their food and drink, and he lived exactly one week. He sacrificed himself. His spirit was truly free. I hope only that you will grow up to be like your father, a protector of freedom forever."

"Mammy, why couldn’t my father find the opportunity to escape like other pigeons?"

Freedom or death

"The humans hoped your father would pair with another pigeon, a tamed pigeon, and produce mixed offspring with her. But he could never have children who were kept as slaves—it would be too shameful for him. Those pigeons in your dream were the descendants of those who accepted slavery and begged for their own lives. Child, their souls are kept prisoner. A thousand deaths would be preferable to a life like that. You are the son of this brave pigeon. Keep his spirit alive in you," she says.

My mother's words shock my soul for a long time. I am infinitely delighted at being a son of such a brave pigeon, but I feel a surge of pride and happiness. My heart feels strong and proud. With all the love in my heart, I embrace my mother.

"Now you must go," she tells me. "I give you up for the sake of our motherland and all the pigeons. Don’t leave these pigeons without a leader. The humans are more and more aggressive, using all manner of tactics to trap us. Go now and find a safe place for us, my child."

My wings are wet with my mother's tears. Now the meaning of my dream is clear: that I must go forth on an expedition. But by no means, I think, will I fall into a trap set by humans.

I fly farther and farther away, first along the river and then into the area where the humans make their homes. It is nothing like the dwelling place in my dream, but I am careful—flying higher and higher. My wings have enough power. I hear not human debate, but the music of the wind in my ears.

In search of a new home

These humans are not so strong and frightening, I think. If I fly too high, I fear I will miss my target. If I fly too far, it will affect our migration plan. To tell the truth, I disagree with my mother’s migration plan. Our land is on a very high precipice—how can humans climb here when it is even difficult for pigeons? We were here, one after another, generation after generation, living a happy life. Why should we leave now, to run from humans who are weaker than we imagine? Now I am flying over the human settlements. I feel no danger. Perhaps my mother worries too much.

Now the sky is black. Everything around me is going dark, and now the world disappears in utter darkness. Everything disappears into the night, and I realize that I have been flying for an entire day, and I am exhausted. I must rest. I have already explored to the West, North, and South, and still I have found nowhere we can live. I haven’t yet find a good place to which we can migrate.

Perhaps I have flown too high. Perhaps tomorrow I can fly East, at a lower altitude. The stars flicker in the sky. How can anyone who lives in such a world of beauty be afraid? Slowly I descend, falling into a tree. Tomorrow I will awaken, but I don’t know where. Then I will start again, flying lower in the sky. Perhaps then I will be able to find us a new home.

The Girona Manifesto

The Girona Manifesto

Source : PEN International

Exactly 15 years ago the same Committee led a coalition of civil society and international organizations in the production of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. This large and complex document was approved by PEN's annual Assembly of Delegates and has gone on to play an important role in specialist circles around the world. What has been missing is a short, clear Manifesto laying out the Declaration's essential arguments in a way that can be made use of by everyone.

The Girona Manifesto is precisely that. On one page containing ten points and written in a language which is both literary and practical, this Manifesto creates a tool we can all use.

Of course, our Assembly in Belgrade will be asked to approve it. But I thought it important to lay out the context in which this Manifesto can be read.

We are all concerned about pressures being put on languages with a smaller population base. We are concerned about the lack of translation from these languages and the difficulty they have making themselves heard in the world. Many languages are in danger. Many are actually disappearing. The loss of one's language, and through that loss much of one's culture, can be seen as the ultimate removal of freedom of expression.

The Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee began working on this Manifesto in our three official languages after its 2010 meeting.

At its 2011 meeting, in which both Hori Takeaki and myself took part, everyone present spent much of their time debating this short text in three languages. The result was The Girona Manifesto, which was unanimously adopted.

This Manifesto could give us a clear public document with which to defend and advance languages with smaller populations, as well, as endangered languages.

I encourage all of you to read it, to translate it into your own languages before Belgrade, and to think about how we could best use it to advance the multiplicity of languages and cultures that PEN International represents.


PEN International brings together the writers of the world.

Fifteen years ago, the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights was first made public in Barcelona by PEN International's Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee.

Today, that same Committee, gathered together in Girona, declares a Manifesto of the Universal Declaration's ten central principles.

1. Linguistic diversity is a world heritage that must be valued and protected.

2. Respect for all languages and cultures is fundamental to the process of constructing and maintaining dialogue and peace in the world.

3. All individuals learn to speak in the heart of a community that gives them life, language, culture and identity.

4. Different languages and different ways of speaking are not only means of communication; they are also the milieu in which humans grow and cultures are built.

5. Every linguistic community has the right for its language to be used as an official language in its territory.

6. School instruction must contribute to the prestige of the language spoken by the linguistic community of the territory.

7. It is desirable for citizens to have a general knowledge of various languages, because it favours empathy and intellectual openness, and contributes to a deeper knowledge of one's own tongue.

8. The translation of texts, especially the great works of various cultures, represents a very important element in the necessary process of greater understanding and respect among human beings.

9. The media is a privileged loudspeaker for making linguistic diversity work and for competently and rigorously increasing its prestige.

10. The right to use and protect one's own language must be recognized by the United Nations as one of the fundamental human rights.

Committee of Translation and Linguistic Rights of PEN International

Girona, 13th of May 2011

PEN News: July 21, 2011‏

PEN News: July 21, 2011‏


PEN’s membership criteria have now been amended to allow writers to apply after the publication of their first book or after producing one work in a professional setting. Previously, most authors were required to have published two books to join PEN. Spread the word: encourage friends and colleagues to apply. [More]


PEN Shorts posts a new short narrative contest every few weeks. This week’s contest asks writers to channel Ernest Hemingway by rewriting a tabloid story using the author’s signature style. [More]


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Dissident Writer Liao Yiwu Flees China

Independent Chinese PEN Center (ICPC) board member Liao Yiwu has fled his native China for Germany and declared himself an exile. Liao, author of the groundbreaking work The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China From the Bottom Up, was to have appeared at this year’s PEN World Voices Festival but was barred from traveling to the United States just days before the Festival kicked off. [More]

Poet Ayat al-Gormezi Released from Prison

One month after she was sentenced to a year in prison on anti-state charges for poems critical of the king, Bahraini poet and student Ayat al-Gormezi was released. PEN continues to call for the sentence to be officially revoked, and for the release of those who remain detained for the peaceful expression of their views. Watch video of al-Gormezi reading her poem in Pearl Square. [More]

Tran Khai Thanh Thuy Released from Prison

Jailed Vietnamese writer and PEN Honorary Member Tran Khai Thanh Thuy was released from prison and has arrived safely in the United States. Thanh Thuy, a renowned novelist, poet, essayist, and member of the pro-democracy group Bloc 8406, was serving a three-year sentence on a trumped-up assault charge. [More]


The Daily PEN American, PEN’s New Blog, Launches

Taking inspiration from the passionate promotion of literature and free expression by past PEN Presidents Susan Sontag, Arthur Miller, and Salman Rushdie and from PEN’s broad base of talented members, the Daily PEN American aims to remind readers that freedom of expression is not just about the right to speak freely but the right to hear and read what others are saying anywhere in the world. In the coming months expect to find amazing work by both American and international authors, new translations, news from the front lines of our advocacy campaigns, voices of those imprisoned or in jeopardy for their writing, and much more. [More]

2011 PEN Translation Fund Grant Recipients Announced

The PEN Translation Fund, now celebrating its eighth year, is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s competition. From a field of more than 130 applicants, the Fund’s Advisory Board has selected 11 projects for funding. [More]

Online Translation Slam: 끝에 선 나무들

PEN’s online Translation Slam showcases the art of translation by juxtaposing two “competing” translations of a single work. For this final installment, we asked translators to test their linguistic mettle on 끝에 선 나무들, a poem by Korean writer Jeong Kkeut-byeol. [More]

Presenting the 2011 Prison Writing Contest Winners

Each 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]

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