English PEN marks the Day of the Imprisoned Writer by launching Time to Read, a new e-book collection of work by writers at risk and former PEN cases from all over the globe
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip and British theatre producer David Cecil are among the contributors to an anthology on the necessity of reading in prison. As former prisoners they wrote these pieces in support of English PEN’s campaign with the Howard League for Penal Reform against restrictions on sending books to prisoners in the UK. These restrictions were introduced by the Ministry of Justice in November 2013 as part of a crackdown on what ministers have described as prisoners’ ‘perks and privileges’.
The central message of the Books for Prisoners campaign is that books should not be seen as a privilege but as a necessity. For prisoners, books can be a calming influence in an otherwise chaotic environment. They can provide companionship at a very lonely time. A book can turn incarceration into a constructive and even creative experience.
As well as providing powerful testimony to the importance of books in detention, the anthology serves as a poignant reminder of why English PEN’s core work of sending letters and books to individual writers at risk is so important. This is one of the oldest and most tangible ways in which English PEN shows support for writers at risk in other countries, and remains one of the most powerful ways for our members and supporters to show solidarity with brave colleagues around the world.
We are proud to publish this anthology to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2014 and to highlight the continued plight of writers and other literary professionals all over the world. We hope that it will inspire and encourage more of you to join our ongoing campaign to make the freedom to write and the freedom to read a reality for everyone.
Download the ebook
We are asking everyone who downloads the collection to consider pledging to send a book to a writer at risk. For those of you active on social media, we would encourage you to take a photo of the book you decide to send and to share it on Twitter, Facebook and other social media with the hashtags #ImprisonedWriter and #DOIW and our handle @englishpen.
For further information, or if you would prefer to make a contribution to the ongoing work of our Writer at Risk Programme, please contact our Writers at Risk Programme Manager Cat Lucas on firstname.lastname@example.org
Spread the word
We’d be most grateful if you tell your friends and colleagues about the publication, via email or on social media. Please use the hashtags #ImprisonedWriter and #DOIW and our handle @englishpen. Click here to send a tweet.