English PEN Modern Literature Festival


Thursday 8 March, 7 – 9 pm
All Saints Church, Kingston upon Thames, 14-16 Market Pl, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 1JP
Free entry

For the third year running, English PEN has joined forces with writer and artist SJ Fowler to curate the English PEN Modern Literature Festival. The festival will see UK-based writers performing new works created in solidarity with some of the individuals we support throughout the year through our Writers at Risk Programme.

On 8 March, modernist and avant-garde writers poets, novelists, playwrights and artists will come together to continue English PEN’s relationship with innovative contemporary literature. Each of the UK-based writers will present their work – poetry, text, reportage, performance – celebrating and evidencing the struggle of fellow writers around the world, in solidarity.

This year’s festival will feature:

  • Mona Arshi for journalist and artist Zehra Doğan, imprisoned in Turkey
  • Tony White for fellow novelist Ahmed Naji who remains subject to a travel ban in Egypt
  • Helen Palmer for leading Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh (Me Nâm)
  • Sara Upstone for imprisoned Eritrean journalist and playwright Dawit Isaak
  • Adam Baron for Turkish journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül
  • Prudence Chamberlain for Thai students Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkong
  • Eley Williams for Tibetan poet Tsering Woeser
  • David Spittle for exiled Bangladeshi publisher Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury (Tutul)

Curator SJ Fowler said:

The event is intended as a call to membership for writers, artists and readers in a time where we face perilous challenges to our freedom of expression and fundamental rights and hard fought liberties, both internationally and here in the UK. As the world changes so remarkably, and so rapidly, and on a global scale, it is vital the political will of our time and this generation of young, dynamic writers is directed purposefully to the work of English PEN, the writer’s charity. The hope is that this festival, away from creating new members of PEN, begins involvements and connections which will resonate for decades to come.

This year’s festival, which will take place at All Saints Church in Kingston has been featured in Time Out London’s list of ‘10 brilliant London literary events to get you ready for World Book Day’:

If you like your lit with social purpose by the page-load, then consider joining English PEN. The English PEN Modern Literature Festival is not just a mouthpiece for some excellent writers (Eley Williams, we’re looking at you), it’s a collective that works to protect their artistic freedom.

Let us know if you’re coming and invite your friends! 

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

View all posts by Cat Lucas →

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