Apart from the traditional 45th International Writers Meeting, this year the International Board choose to have his face-to-face Meeting in Bled.
I can’t recall if in 1965 – when Bled hosted the International Congress – there was such a meeting here, but in any case a lot of time did pass by and this could be considered an important acknowledgment of the importance PEN International gives to the Bled Meeting.
The Board members and the Chairpersons of the 5 Committees met on Tuesday 7th for dinner and had a meeting on Wednesday 8th, with a short prolongation on Thursday, discussing a full agenda.
I apologize if this year I will be less punctual in this short report of mine, but being a Board member means that one has many things to think about at the same time... :0)
The International Writers Meeting – there were about 36 PEN Centres or Countries represented - started on the evening of Wednesday with a presentation of the literature of the Zasavje region of Slovenia, the President of Slovene PEN Marjan Strojan is native to. He was accompanied by two other authors, Roman Rozina and Uroš Zupan.
At night we were received at the Brdo Castle by the Minister of Culture of Slovenia, dr. Uroš Grilc.
On Thursday the Meeting opened with a Round Table about “Literary creation, from the periphery to the centre”, moderated by Teresa Salema.
This was followed by a Panel Discussion about “The role of PEN today and in the future”, presented by Tone Peršak of Slovene PEN and moderated by the International President John Ralston Saul and the International Secretary Takeaki Hori.
Both events were followed with interest and there were many interventions.
The day closed with a series of literary readings in different places near Bled.
On Friday there was a second Round Table, moderated by Edvard Kovač, Chairman of the Writers for Peace Committee, about “The writer as a traveller creating peace facing the challenges of the new media”.
In the afternoon this Round Table was followed by a Workshop – moderated by two members of the staff of the PEN International Office, Sarah Clarke and Paul Finegan – about “Digital Freedom, Peace and Conficts and the PEN’s Declaration on Digital Freedom “ adopted in Gyeongju in 2012.
The Centres are kindly invited to translate this Declaration into their own language (or languages) and to send it to the International Office in London.
Also these two events aroused the interest of participants and consequently there were many hands raised.
Apart from the specific matters dealt of in these discussion, one of the most debated issues among Delegates, Board and the Icelandic Delegate Sigurdur Pálsson was the logistics of the Reykjavik Congress.
In the evening a literary event took place in Radovljica, dedicated to the Slovene version of a novel of Margriet de Moor.
On Saturday morning there were two sessions: the General Assembly of the Writers for Peace Committee, chaired by Edvard Kovač and co-chaired by Teresa Salema, and a Meeting of the Women Writers Committee about “Who is Who? or Networking of Female Writers”, chaired by Ekbal Baraka and moderated by Barbara Simoniti.
Personally I attended the WfPC session, which was quite crowded and animated, having to deal with activity reports, updating about delicate situations, the final version of the Manifesto of the Writers for Peace Committee drafted in Gyeongju, the organization of the Lisbona conference to be held at the end of June and other business. A project to create a new Mediterranean Network was discussed and will be taken into consideration again during the Lisbona meeting.
This year Edi Kovač will leave the Chairmanship of the WfPC and in Reykjavik the Committee will have a General Assembly electing the new Chairperson, with the same procedure as the other PEN Committees. Tone Peršak of Slovene PEN is candidate to take over from Edi Kovač.
My wife Lina Morselli, Treasurer of Trieste PEN, attended the WWC meeting and was very interested by it, the Committee having started to function regularly and having concrete projects for the immediate future.
The “historical” picture I attach to this post shows the International President and Secretary sitting on the floor with the Chairpersons of the PEN Committees, marking the close cooperation that has to be maintained and fostered among and between the Committees and the Board.
I would like to specially thank the Mayor of Bled Mr. Janez Fajfar for the courtesy and pleasantness he is always using towards all the Delegates in his town.
After a theatre play in Kranj of John Patrick Shanley we all convened to a farewell dinner.
Next year we will meet again in Bled.