Sunday, 28 October 2012
Ad multos annos, Ivan !
Monday, 22 October 2012
A short (personal) report about my trip to Turkey.
The Municipality of Ordu – a nice city on the Black Sea – did invite a number of foreign guests to this event taking place from 10 to 14 October 2012.
Through Tarik Günersel, President of the Turkish PEN, Gil-Won Lee, President of PEN Korea and myself as President of PEN Trieste – also in our quality of members of the Board of PEN International - were among these guests, along with the Mayors of Drama (GR) and Plovdvid Severen (BG), Nancy Tryposkoufi and Eleftheria Binikou of the International Writers and Translators Centre of Rhodes (GR), the writer Thnasis Skroubelos and the publisher Şebnem Hristakopoulos from Greece, the poet Carolina Ilica and the publisher Dumitru M. Ion from Romania, the writer and poet Bojana Apostolova and the poet Naci Ferhadov from Bulgaria.
For me it was my first time in Turkey and - even if I still have to visit Istanbul sometimes - I doubt I could have chose a better occasion to meet Turkish writers and poets and at the same time having an experience of the Turkish way of life. My personal limit in this has been my complete ignorance of the Turkish language.
Any experience is too short – and a five days one certainly is – to say that you really understood something of a country, of its habitants and of its culture, but I feel richer after this one.
The theme of the Festival was “Cultural ties among cities” – a piece of cake for someone born in Trieste like me :o)
We were welcomed by the Mayor of Ordu, Mr. Seyit Torun, the Governor of the Province of Ordu Mr. Orhan Düzgün and the Festival’s Director General Mr. Şinasi Tepe.
The event was articulated on different interesting venues, mainly Cultural Centres and Theatres, with panels (Cultural interaction among cities, The world of short stories and novels, Poetry in our contemporary times, History of Ordu, Novel heroes inside our lives), presentations and readings.
There were also visits to schools of all grades – with an impressive, attentive participation of students of different ages – including musical exhibitions, a theatre performance, many visits and conversations in the newly refreshed Ordu Centre for World Writers.
The local TV interviewed Tarik, Gil-Won, Nancy, Eleftheria and myself together.
We were treated to many good restaurants, so we could appreciate Turkish food and hospitality.
All in all, the impression I had is that of a complex cultural environment, which expresses itself through the words of the Turkish writers and poets, the Administration having a proactive attention to culture. Freedom of expression is considered in this milieu a value, even if in the country there are the known difficulties.
A couple of very personal notes.
I was really (happily) astonished by the Mayor leading a procession of participants through the city centre, with the City Band and a banner of the Festival ahead of him, while all of us were distributing red carnations to the people around us :o). I’m still wondering if some of our Mayors would show this degree of involvement (frankly speaking, I doubt it).
The second funny experience I had at the end of a visit to a secondary school, when I was (joyfully) assaulted by a bunch of girls and boys asking me for my signature... on the palm of their hands :o)
At the end of this report, I would like to express my thanks to all the organizers of this interesting event, which was quite complicated to manage, and for their kind attention to our well-being.
A special thank you I owe to Mesut Senol with whom I had the first contact (and the last one, because he woke up at I prefer not to know which hour in the morning to make sure we were on a VERY early car to the airport and wish us a good trip home...)
A very hearty hug to all the volunteers – female and male - who took good care of us throughout the Festival, and thanks also to the translators, who had (as always) a hard job to do (not always recognized).
It’s good to know that after only five days you can think of having so many friends in Turkey.
Monday, 15 October 2012
Friday, 28 September 2012
Il quotidiano La Stampa di Torino ha pubblicato giorni fa sul suo sito Web la notizia della nomina di uno scrittore italiano del PEN Trieste a livello internazionale durante il 78° Congresso del PEN International in Corea. Altri giornali non hanno ritenuto di farlo.
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Questa è la relazione in inglese che è stata pubblicata giornalmente sulla pagina "PEN International on Facebook" che per ragioni di rapidità pubblico integralmente adesso.
Il ritorno da Gyeongju è stato allietato dal tifone Sanpa che mi ha costretto a percorrere la tratta Gyeongju - Seoul in treno perchè i voli sono stati cancellati... :o)
Ovvia la mia soddisfazione personale per essere membro dell'International Board, il che si riflette sulla visibilità del nostro Centro che non ha ancora compiuto 10 anni.
Mi dispiace solo che Claudio Martelli non abbia potuto avere la soddisfazione di vedere che quanto abbiamo costruito dal 2003 in qua ha avuto un grande riconoscimento a livello internazionale.
From Congress, about Sunday 9th
Arrived on Sunday, on a rainy day. Delegates are coming in but many are still on their way.
Took part in the Finance Subcommittee in the late morning.
An obligatory short nap in the afternoon, meeting delegates, Korean dinner outside the hotel.
In the evening musical entertainment at the Art Centre of Gyeongju, the spectacle being MISO2, about the History of Korea - fantastic scenography and music.
Short night walk in an historical park.
Today more contacts with people and the Opening Ceremony. Meetings in the afternoon.
From the Congress, Monday 10th
More people still coming (it’s a long journey, many are tired, I for one)
Opening Ceremony, speeches of Gilwon Lee, President of PEN Korea, John Ralston Saul and of the Minister of Culture Kwang-shik Choe, the Governor of the Gyeongsagbuk-do Kwan-yong Kim and the Mayor of Gyeongju Yang-sik Choe. Gilwon Lee announced the constitution of the PEN of Korean Writers in Exile.
An interesting video clip about the structure of the Hangul alphabet , invented about 1450 by the king Sejong, an ante litteram example of binary combination of signs thought in order to simplify the Chinese alphabet.
A shorter version of the performance of MISO2 followed by a conference about binary opposition by O Young Lee.
An oceanic lunch with many members of PEN Korea.
Two speeches of the Nobel Prizes Wole Soyinka e Jean-Marie Le Clezio.
Three rounds of seminaries and sharing of experiences – very interesting indeed as methodology - about Centre Governance, Campaigns and Communication/Freedom of Expression, Finance and Fundraising, Public Policy, event hosting (Congresses and Literary Events), Centre Development and Growth. I did a tour through fast every meetings, with a good affluence and many interventions. This is a sure proof that there is an interest for this kind of issues and for the sharing of experiences.
Other oceanic Welcome Dinner with the Korean Drum and Dance Group.
Tomorrow the actual work begins, in the morning meetings of all the 4 Committees.
From the Congress, Tuesday 11
Well, today the sun is shining, and that puts one in another mood.
This morning the PEN Commitees (WWC, WiPC, T&LRC and WfPC) had their Meetings in preparation of the General Meeting.
The Women Writers Committee had to elect its new Chairperson, whose election has to be formally ratified by the General Meeting. Ekbal Baraka (Egyptian PEN) prevailed over Elizabeth Lundgren (Finnish PEN). I think we all (women and men) should be grateful to Judith Buckrich and to Lucina Kathmann for the complicated task they had to carry on during the last year.
I’m personally very happy that the WWC has a new President and that it can reorganize itself with the contribution of all its members. I wish Ekbal all the luck she and the women represented by her deserve, and will put consequently to her/their disposal my experience, that I will be elected or not.
I share with my wife Lina Morselli – who is the antenna of PEN Trieste towards WWC - the belief that individuals could and should work well together irrespective of their sex or gender.
As for the Writers in Prison Committee, Marian Botsford Fraser (Canadian PEN) was confirmed Chairperson of the WiPC. I wish also Marian all the best in the prosecution of her difficult and vital work.
I can’t go into details of the works of WWC, WiPC and T&LRC of this morning because I was engaged in my role into the Writers for Peace Committee.
I happen to know that T&LRC is working on a new document after the Girona Manifest, as we at WfPC are working on a manifest of our own. I suppose that every Committee was going through the Activity Reports of 2011 and was updating its to-do list from now on :o).
John was visiting all the Committees and I suppose that he asked all Committees, as he did for the WiPC, to make concrete proposals for their activity.
After lunch the meetings went on till 16.00, at which time we went to a poetry reading followed by a dinner in the Arts Centre of Geyongju and a musical. If interrogated, I will take the Fifth Amendment, but they say that someone choose a moment of freedom… :o)
Tomorrow morning we have to go back to work, the General Meeting starts at 9.00 exactly. Afterwards there will be some social/cultural activity.
From the Congress, Wednesday 11
Still a sunny day.
The General Meeting starts with the usual half an hour delay :o)
This being a formal session, there are many formalities to be executed.
After a welcome to everybody from the President – and in particular to new Centres and to Delegates who attend for the first time the General Meeting – there is a short speech of the President about the most relevant facts of the last period.
A minute of silence in memoriam for Members deceased in 2011.
• the Minutes of the last GM in Belgrade,
• the Report by the International Treasurer
• the Report by International Secretary,
• the the appointment of the Auditors,
• the Report by the Executive Director (multimedia)
all approved unanimously.
A Draft of the PEN International Declaration on Free Expression and Digital Technologies was presented by the Digital Right Committee, headed by Takeaki Hori.
This Draft was already discussed during the meetings of the 4 Committees of yesterday.
A discussion on digital media issues followed. Contribution are still open to Centres and Members.
The General Meeting ended at 12.30. A rush for lunch and off we go to a tour near Gyeongju. Visit to some important monuments and – much to the surprise of many – to a plant dedicated to radioactive waste :o(
We attended a Free the Word Festival at the Dongguk University, with a conversation with Soyinka, Le Clezio and a Korean poet, moderated by John Ralston Saul.
A rush home, that is at the hotel, dinner and relax.
Tomorrow the elections of the President, of 2 Members at Large of the Board and of the Search Committee will take place.
From the Congress, Thursday 13
Sorry for the delay, but yesterday was a busy day... :o)
Schedule was changed, there was first a report about the networks by Frank Geary, and the we went to the Network Workshops. I personally choose to go to the Latin-American Network in order to have an update about the situation of Latin American PEN Centres and be in the position to offer my support.
Back to the General Meeting, there was the item Presentations of Candidates & Elections waiting for us :o)
John Ralston Saul, candidate to the Presidency, was presented by Emile Martel (PEN Quebec).
For the Board, Marketa Heikalova was presented by Gil-Won Lee (PEN Korea), Margie Orford by Nicholas Kalinga (PEN Zambia) and Antonio Della Rocca by Solomon Hailemariam (Ethiopian PEN).
As International Vice President, Vida Ognjenovic was presented by Edvard Kovac (Slovenian PEN).
All candidates presented themselves, and were requested to answer a random question they did know about before.
The results were:
John Ralston Saul was elected with 72 votes (5 abstentions)
For the 2 places of Member at Large of the Board:
Marketa Heikalova got 51 votes
Antonio Della Rocca 48
Margie Orford 46.
Consequently, Marketa and myself were elected.
Vida Ognjenovic was elected with 69 (5 abstentions)
A Panel discussion, chaired by Sara Whyatt, including representatives of the PEN Emergency Fund, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN).
After lunch, there was the discussion about the PEN International Standing Committee Reports (and the announcement of the results of the internal elections that have to be agreed upon by the General Meeting.
- Writers for Peace Committee - presented by Edi Kovac
- Writers in Prison Committee - presented by Marian Botsford-Fraser
- Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee presented by Emile Martel
- Women Writers Committee presented by Lucina Kathmann
all unanimously approved.
After that, we run off to XXX for a spectacle, a dinner and a musical – all of that in open air but in a strange climate more near to fog than rain... :o)
A PERSONAL CONSIDERATION
So, I have been elected Member at Large of the Board. It was a very good contest, my competitors were above all friends and with many merits. I have to thank for it my colleagues delegates who voted for me, but I feel that I owe also to all the Members of this page for my election.
I think you have a right to know what I told to the General Meeting: I spoke in Spanish and I will post here the original text. Should anyone like to read it in English, I will post it as a file in the next days.
John, Takeaki, Eric, Laura, estimadas Amigas y Amigos,
He decidido hablar en español porque de los idiomas oficiales del PEN este es el que siento más cercano.
Antes de empezar permítanme darle las gracias a Tarik Günersel por haberme cordialmente empujado a presentar mi candidatura una vez más para la Junta Directiva, a Solomon Hailemariam por su entusiasta presentación, y a Gil-won Lee por la organización de este Congreso. Gam sa hap mi da.
Ya he publicado en Facebook una especie de discurso de presentación en inglés, en el cual explico en detalle a qué quisiera dedicar mis esfuerzos en la hipótesis de ser elegido.
Sin embargo ahora tengo que ser breve, así que he decidido hablarles sobre mi visión general del PEN Internacional.
Nosotros somos una gran organización, y para conseguir nuestro objetivos tememos que mejorar nuestra manera de operar.
Para hacer eso, tenemos que interactuar más y aún más.
La Junta Directiva tiene que interactuar: cada uno de sus miembros debe estar en continuo contacto con los otros y posiblemente tener su campo específico de actividad.
Los Comités tienen que interactuar: cada Comité necesita una estructura apropiada, sus propios recursos financieros y una conexión eficiente con los Ejecutivos y con la Junta Directiva.
Estoy consciente que en mi discurso hay un riesgo de sobresimplificación, pero mi impresión es que actualmente la estructura de los Comités sea desbalanceada, y que esto representa un riesgo para nuestra eficiencia interna y para nuestra imagen externa.
También los Centros tienen que interactuar: los nuevos Networks, las Redes, representan una buena forma de hacerlo, pero yo pienso en el PEN Internacional como en una grande Red, donde cada Centro tiene que considerar su deber – y su placer – la cooperación con otros Centros para la promoción de la literatura. Por ejemplo, el PEN Trieste ya ha editado dos InterPENbooks con nuestros Colegas de Eslovenia y Croacia, y está planeando editar otro con el PEN Colombia.
Considero otrosí un gran ejemplo de este tipo de cooperación las iniciativas conjuntas del Network Uralo-Altaico y del PEN Asia Central en Bishkek.
El hecho de que por dos años seguidos yo haya manejado un espacio libre como la pagina “PEN International on Facebook” les cuenta que estoy abierto a la discusión y que mucho me gustaría que todos lo Miembros del PEN participaran en ella.
En una palabra, si Ustedes deciden elegirme, yo pondré a disposición del PEN mi experiencia específica en asuntos de organización, así como una parte aún más importante de mi tiempo.
Les agradezco su tiempo y su atención.
From the Congress, Friday 14
Still a rainy day...
The session was opened by a speech of salute of the Delegate of Haiti, whose Centre is recovering from the earthquake and from the loss of its President George Anglade.
Two new centres were approved, Lebanon and North Koreans writers in exile, both unanimously.
A centre was proposed for dormancy.
The Pretoria Centre having asked to change its name into Afrikaans Centre, explaining the reasons, and the Board having agreed, the General Meeting approved.
A number of resolutions, mainly about the defence of freedom of expression, were approved by the General Meeting.
The procedure for the election of the members of the Search Committee resulted in Jean-Luc Despax (PEN France), Entela Kasi (PEN Albania), Jens Lohmann (Danish PEN), Elizabeth Nordgren (Finnish PEN) and Eugene Schoulgin (PEN Norway) being elected.
A discussion about “Engaging Young Voices in PEN” was moderated by Laura McVeigh, Executive Director, who called to the stand Harruna Attah (Ghana PEN), Nicholas Kawinga (Zambia PEN), Margie Orford (South African PEN) and. Dalmira Tilepbergenova (Central Asia PEN).
The General Meeting approved the Report on the Congress of Belgrade and approved the choice of Iceland as venue for the 2013 Congress. Einar Karason, President of Icelandic PEN, presented the project.
The Congress ended with a closing ceremony where all Officers and Executives of International PEN where on the stand together with all the people who assured the exit of the Congress itself, to whom a warm “Thank you all “ was dedicated.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
It is incomparably more precise and detailed than my day-by-day report of what was happening in Bled :o)
A. Della Rocca
The limits of the language: around the tree stem, sharing thoughts, experiences.
Note about the 44th International Writers’ Meeting
In Bled, (Slovenia), 16-20 of May 2012
The big lime tree in the centre of the Vrba, the Slovenian village where the poet France Prešeren (1800-1849) was born, is more than 200 years old, such as the discussions about the conditions of possibility of developing a culture of peace. During these days, ca. 60 writers from ca. 28 countries or PEN Centres exchanged ideas and experiences on the 3 proposed themes for the round tables: Transformation New Path or the Decline of Western rational Civilization – Perennial Modernity – Sharing with others, a Path to Peace.
Such a thematic organization might lead us to the hypothesis that the search for new peace paths should be preceded by a consequent reflection about the complexity of the political, economical, social and cultural factors that prepare the humus and set the ground where writers create and correspondingly share their written lines. In fact, if we draw the main theses and tendencies of the presented papers, we realize very soon how narrow such path can be, but nevertheless urgent. We all agree upon the diagnosis of the devastating action of neoliberalism, even with a mask of gentleness: “Le tyran néo-libéral, remplaçant le bruit des bottes par les chaussures de sport le week-end et le streetwear la semaine met l’emploi en vente” (Jean-Luc Despax, French PEN). The answer given by writers to such conditions should be therefore at least as energetic as their brutality: « Réinvestir l’espace privatisé du service public et prêter main-forte, symboliquement dans un premier temps, à tout agent qui n’aurait pas renoncé à penser et à agir, de la ruse à la grève ».
In a challenging paper about « The Art of Memetics, from Zurich Dada to recent culture-jamming », Sibila Petlevski (Croatian PEN Centre) stresses the urgency of reconsidering “the most toxic ideas in our own cultures”. But is it just a sign of modernity? Zvonimir Redeljkovič (Bosnia and Herzegovina PEN) sustains that “literature seems to have been in a crisis ever since it came into being”. The eternal question: How modern, how ancient are we, how effective with our own judgment, our own creation? Marjan Strojan (Slovene PEN Centre) reminds us about the definition of contemporariness as “something that does not primarly belong to one’s temporal limitations but rather something that includes them”.
Similar crossroad is the problem of sharing – knowledge, skills, ideas, words. All the languages we can find, among them the specific tools of the writer, all forms of expression of rationality and emotion, since they are so intrinsically interwoven, as we nowadays realize, could be not only, as Edvard Kovač (Chair of the Writers for Peace Committee – WfPC) put it, “a survival imperative”. We could go here a step further and ask a simple question: If one person already shares our messages and images simply due to his or her worldly condition, why not recall our fragile temporality in order to compensate one’s nature egoistic tendencies? In this sense, sharing could be a simple product of the sensible reason, the form of reason after recognizing the complexity of all relationships. There were voices among the authors reminding us problematic situations of violence and oppression, such as Mexico (Colin Canberry), Morocco (Rita El Khayat), as well as environment problems (Sylvestre Clancier, French PEN and International Board, and Zeki Ergas, Swiss-Romand PEN), Mariam Aref Qasim (Somali speaking PEN).
But there were also voices reading texts and singing poems, also in minority dialects as Prekmurje and Porabje (East Slovenia), which are endangered by the majority language. This was the theme of the opening session. During the debates, Carme Arenas (Catalan PEN) read a text from Josep_Maria Terricabras (Chair of the Tanslation and Linguistic Rights Committee): “When we translate we cannot give peace a guarantee, but we are giving it a chance”. The protection of endangered languages is a major Pen issue for us all.
We saw the documentary Nach der Stille (After the Silence) by Stefanie Bürger, Jule Ott and Manal Abdallah, the Palestinian co-director who played the difficult role as bridge and interpreter between the two worlds divided by occupation, war, conflict. The memory of Dov Chernobroda, the Israeli architect who stressed that there could be no peace in Middle East until the enemies start to talk, has been duly celebrated by this elegiac document on the necessity of starting a dialogue. Dov was killed in a suicide attack and his widow, Yael Armanet-Chernobroda, drives with close friends and family, with the film team as a kind of visual basso continuo, to the parents of that young man whose name began slowly and painly to replace the replace the epithet “terrorist”.
The film caused an intensive discussion, and the critical voices towards the occupation politics by Israel were reminded that there was no disagreement about the urgent need to put an end to the occupation and give Palestine a chance to become an independent state. The point was here yet how to deal with suffering and how to share this suffering by listening also to the others. This was stressed by Bluma Finkelstein (Israel and French PEN): no one has the monopoly of pain and no one should become violent out of religious convictions or ideologies.
How easy to say and how difficult to carry it out, this became clear during the meeting of the WfPC. Such issues as the need to become more effective on the level of communication and by formulating the next goals, as the urgency to rethink the role of literature and liberty of expression in a way that embeds both in the responsibility for the environment, since we all are fragile systems, made us come back to our founding texts, from the Lugano Declaration of 1987 against violence and terrorism, through the Linz statement on sustainability (2009), up to the Belgrade text of 2011, which reflects an attempt to link the aspects of citizenship, literature, and environment. We all accepted the challenge of elaborating a concentrate version of it, which might be used as a sort of specific Committee Charter.
Most important of all is keeping the exchange of ideas and texts between the meetings, so that the practicing of sharing and listening wins a solid ground that allows to take proper actions when required, and not just to react to the pressure of the moment problems. In this sense, I accepted to be elected for a second and last mandate.
We have the site blog
and, at least until the moment, we do not need a specific Facebook account, also because we can use the one of PEN International and by that give more visibility to the Committee work, including it in the aphoristic form of communication that can also become a useful tool, if we only can manage it.
In the 21st century, humanism has to be rethought in a sustainable way. This may (should?) become an almost evident daily practice by returning to our temporary condition and thus integrating it in the guidelines of our time. Staying by the word, crisis could yet bring great challenges that open a way of hardships and discoveries. As Franca Tiberto (Italian and Rheto-Romance PEN) put it into an image, writing is like a tree with paper roots and virtual fruits. But what about the stem? - we could ask. Looking at the tree of Vrba again, we see 16 stones placed around the trunk. That was a form of a village assembly, in order to talk about the problems that should be solved by debate and not by physical violence.
For the moment, we have just a draft idea of the stem that we want to develop together, also investing a part of our individual differences to help building a new Committee identity. This is made possible with the support of the International President, John Ralston Saul, who worked these days intensively with us, making important suggestions, as well as of the Pen International staff members Laura McVeigh and Frank Geary, also helping to consolidate the big Pen family. In the sense of a renewed process which is just taking off, this personal report can be seen as a mere first step.
The path will be long – and in our century, the engagement for the sake of literature, peace and human rights must always be considered within the needs of the environment and the correspondent issues, such as the struggle for keeping water an element to be shared by all. Just like the Slovenian poet Barbara Simoniti writes: “I am of water and my language is thirst, / no cell passes away, they all undulate / in simmering desire for something / greater”. The poetic words of most participants have been also spread in these days in literary sessions, carried out in several places in Slovenia, with a special reference to the American poet Sydney Lea with a literary evening in the castle of Ljubljana.
From the windows of a castle like this one we also can see – really and metaphorically – the beautiful city and mountain landscape. From that point it becomes perhaps easier to feel that it remains worth keeping the engagement for all the mentioned causes.
Wednesday, May 16
Greetings to everybody. Temperature was of + 5° and it rained :o(
In the evening, after a welcome address by the Mayor of Bled, Mr. Fajfar, there was a literary evening about Prekmurje and Porabje, the Pannonian part of Slovenia.
Afterwards we attended to a reception given by the President of Slovenia, Mr. Türk.
Thursday, May 17
Nice weather, today :o)
Today in the morning 1st Round Table about "Transformation - new paths or the decline of western rational civilisation".
During the 1st Round Table there were contribution by Mr. Joze Trontelj, President of the Slovene Academy of Science and Arts, as well of Janko Prunk, Sylvestre Clancier, Elizabet Csicsery-Ronay, Jean-Luc Despax, Jean-Philippe Domecq, Zeki Ergas and Andràs Petocz.
Tone Persak was the moderator.
Still nice weather :o)
This afternoon we had the 2nd Round table about "Perennial modernity", with interventions of Sibila Petlevski, Jeanine Baude, Sazana Capriqi, Sidney Lea, Tone Persak, Zvonimir Radeljkovic, Marjan Strojan, Lindita Tahiri, Hans Thill and Franca Tiberto.
Sibila Petlevski was the moderator.
In the evening there was a number of readings of poetry in Bled, Grosuplje, Kamna Gorica, Kranj, Maribor, Radovljica, Skofja Loka, Trzin and Vrba.
I read in Kamna gorica together with Bluma Finkelstein, Zeki Ergas and Patrizia Vascotto, with Ifigenija Simonovic as moderator.
Late in the evening we could see the movie "Nach der Stille" of Marcus Vetter about the story of Yael Armanet - Chernobroda , widow of Dov Chernobroda, who was murdered in a terrorist attack on March 31,2002.
Yael after seeing "The heart of Jenin" of Marcus Vetter - a Palestinian father giving the organs of his child who found death in an operation of the Israeli Army - asked Vetter to make a movie helping her to meet the family of the young suicide bomber who killed her husband. Bluma Finkelstein accompanied her in this trip to Jenin.
I happen to know both the ladies and found the film very moving.
Friday, May 18
Today there was a Round Table of the Writers for Peace Committee about "Sharing with others, a path for peace". Edi Kovac will be moderator and contributions of him, Colin Carberry, Sylvestre Clancier, Zeki Ergas, Rita El Khayat, Zineb El Rhazoui, Teresa Salema and Elizabeth Nordgren were expected.
A very interesting morning: Edi Kovac asked Bluma Finkelstein to enlarge on the subject of the movie we saw yesterday night.
There was a lively discussion to which Ali Amar (PEN Maroc), Zineb El Rhazoui (Pen Maroc) Jean Luc Despax (PEN France), Luan Starova (PEN Macedonia) and Bluma itself took part.
Further contributions by Vladimir Merta (Czech PEN), Josep-Maria Terricabras (Pen Català, represented by Carme Arenas) and Narcis Comadira. Elizabet Nordgren was not present.
In the evening a literary session with Sydney Lea, an American poet, in Ljubljana Castle.
Thanks to Mr. Janez Fajfar, Mayor of Bled, who could not attend but sent a message wishing to see all of us next year in Bled, and to Mr. Zoran Jankovic, Mayor of Ljubljana, represented by Mr. Ales Ceri, Deputy Mayor, for their receptions of today.
Saturday, May 19
A long and full meeting of the Writers for Peace Committee indeed.
After the report of the Chair Edi Kovac and of the Vice Chair Teresa Salema, the International President John Ralston Saul made a short speech about the WfPC being the real "place of dialogue" of PEN writers and explaining the initiatives in progress in order to strengthen the activity of the Committee.
Laura Mc Veigh commented about the decision to have a dedicated human resource at PEN International Office and of Frank Geary being in charge for the coordination of the operations of WfPC, T&LRC and WWC, which is indeed a big step forward.
There were many discussions about topics on the Agenda, like the situation of Peace in Asia, the Middle East and Mediterranean areas and Mexico.
I choose to recall among the many an intervention of Boris A. Novak, International Vice President, about the role of WfPC and the necessity to listen more to the other's reasons.
An important point was made about the actual size of PEN International operations in the field of education, that have to be strategically more and more improved and publicized.
There were also debates about environmental problems (extracting oil in the Arctic, privatization of water).
Teresa Salema was confirmed as Vice Chair of the Committee with 17 votes on 18 Centres present and voting, with an abstention: I would call that unanimity ;o)
In the afternoon a short trip to Zirovnica, with visit to Preseren's and Finzgar's birthplaces. We were received by the Mayor Mr. Leopold Pogacar.
The excursion was very pleasant: tonight we had the farewell dinner.
Next year we will meet here again.
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Antonio Della Rocca - President
Juan Octavio Prenz - Past President,
Rina Anna Rusconi - Vice President
Patrizia Vascotto - Secretary General
Lina Morselli - Treasurer
Ivan Bujukljev and Carla Carloni Mocavero are Members of the Board.
Friday, 13 April 2012
Monday, 2 April 2012
It has come to our attention that for this month’s London Book Fair that you have invited the Administration of Press and Publication of the People’s Republic of China (GAPP-PRC), which has long banned the works written by a large number of dissident writers, among them Dr. Liu Xiaobo, laureate of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. The GAPP-PRC has carefully selected 180 publishers and 21 official writers to present its own achievement in government-approved and censored literatures.
In order to give English authors and readers a broader understanding of the situation of Chinese literature and Chinese writers, we would like name only a few writers whose works have been completely banned and who had to serve in prison for their writings in China. Like Liu Xiaobo, they have lost their freedom to write as well as their personal freedom, which is why we believe they need all more the support from the British Council. We hope that through your support to introduce, cite and spread their literary works - fiction, verse and prose, as well as their writings which have been labelled and condemned as crimes - to their British colleagues and the British public.
Among them are many PEN members and honorary PEN members, including the literary critic and poet Liu Xiaobo, presently serving his 11-year imprisonment, and his wife Liu Xia, a poet who has been held under house arrest for a year and a half; Zhu Yufu, a writer recently sentenced to seven years in prison mainly for a poem he wrote after his release from a 9-year imprisonment; Yang Tongyan (aka Yang Tianshui), a novelist and poet serving his 12-year sentence in jail after a previous 10-year imprisonment; Shi Tao, a journalist and poet serving his 10-year imprisonment; Nurmuhemmet Yasin, an Uighur novelist and poet serving his 10-year imprisonment; Tan Zuoren, an environmentalist and writer serving his 5-year imprisonment; Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong), a poet and novelist who died soon after his release on medical parole after suffering complete paralysis due to his stay in prison; Dr. David Tsui (aka Xu Zerong), an Oxford scholar who was released last year after serving 11 years in prison; Yu Jie, an author who has been forced to take asylum in the United States this year after he was silenced by brutal beatings and tortures for his book for a period of over one year; Liao Yiwu, a poet and author who has been forced into exile in Germany last year; Zhou Qing, a writer of Munich City whose works have been banned in China; Jiao Guobiao, a Beijing-based author whose works have been banned in China, and many others.
Particularly, we wish British and international writers and visitors of the London Book Fair to hear the voice of Ms. Woeser, a Tibetan writer restricted at her home in Beijing, to help the general public understand the tragic events of continuous and large-scale self-immolations in Tibet, while dozens of Tibetan writers and scholars who have raised their voice about the political situation in Tibet, have been imprisoned there, including Domal Kyab, Tashi Rabten, Jangtse Donkho, Buddha, Kalsang Jinpa, Dokru Tsultrim, Kunchok Tsephel Gopey Tsang and Kunga Tseyang. In PEN’s case lists alone there are over 40 writers imprisoned in China for their writings.
The British Council has emphasized that the Chinese writers are being invited for their writings in and about China, in order to broaden the understanding of Chinese literature in Britain and to promote cultural exchange between the two countries. We cannot but ask: to understand Chinese literature, should the British people rely on the recommendations by the Chinese government alone? Is there no need to learn about the authors who will never be able to get a recommendation from the government and whose works have been banned in China? Should Václav Havel have been ignored because he was imprisoned while his works had been banned by the former Czechoslovakian authorities? Should Joseph Brodsky’s creations not have been considered a part of Russian literature when he was jailed in the former Soviet Union or after he was forced into exile? Should Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie no longer be able to promote cultural exchange between the United Kingdom and India?
We believe that such a view, which the British Council is now running the risk of emphasizing, is unfair to the many writers who have been banned, imprisoned in, or exiled from China. London is the birthplace of PEN International.
It is in the British tradition of humanism to be concerned about all the writers who are politically persecuted and to promote their release from prison. It is on this basis that we sincerely request the British Council to draw attention to the situation of the writers whose works are banned in China.We have also noted that you are using the term “Chinese literature".
As the official, government approved writers generally represent the government, the official literature allowed by GAPP-PRC is only a very limited part of Chinese literature, mainly representing so-called "socialist literature with Chinese characteristics". It cannot but reflect far less than a full view of Chinese literature. Chinese literature must include independent literature, beyond official censorship and banning, heretical literature, underground literature, prison literature and exile literature.
Therefore, please do not support the Chinese government’s GAPP-PRC’s misleading presentation for British authors and readers.A society where writers have lost their human rights and professional freedom under the conditions restricted by their government is not a free society. If the British Council wishes to promote an authentic cultural exchange in a free and civilized way, please do not disregard the writers whose works are dedicated to shaping a Chinese civil society, especially those who has lost freedom and whose works have been banned by GAPP-PRC to present at the Book Fair.We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Signed by Independent Chinese PEN Centre
and by Trieste PEN Centre
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
News: PEN Protesta!
Writers to gather at Mexico City event to denounce violence against journalists
PEN International and the PEN Club de México present “PEN Protesta! In Support of Journalists and Freedom of Expression,” a public demonstration of solidarity and a demand for accountability for the murders and disappearances of journalists in Mexico on Sunday 29 January in Mexico City.
Representatives from PEN International, all seven North American PEN Centers, and PEN Centers in Europe and Asia will stand side-by-side with dozens of Mexican journalists and declare their support for a free press and freedom of expression in a series of original statements and writings crafted for the occasion. The event represents an unprecedented show of support from the international literary community in recognition of the courage and endurance of their Mexican colleagues.
Between 2000 and 2011, criminal organizations have murdered more than 67 journalists in Mexico. In recent months, these groups have killed 15 journalists, “disappeared” three, and attacked the facilities of 19 newspapers and media outlets with firearms and explosives.
Delegation members and attendees include PEN International President John Ralston Saul, Russell Banks, PEN International Secretary Hori Takeaki, PEN International Treasurer Eric Lax, Ramón Xirau, Marta Lamas, Elena Poniatowska, Javier Sicilia, Homero Aridjis, Elsa Cross, Victor Manuel Mendiola, Eduardo Lizalde, José de la Colina, and many others.
PEN members around the world are invited to support the campaign and show their solidarity. Follow updates about PEN Protesta! on Twitter and Facebook. The suggested Twitter hashtag for the event is #PENProtesta.