English PEN at the Poetry Parnassus

Poetry Parnassus is an international celebration of literature which will bring together the world’s most exciting poets, rappers, spoken word artists, singers and storytellers, for the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK. And all four of PEN’s programmes will be taking part…

Join us at 7pm on 26 June for the launch of Writers in Translation supported title The World Record, a landmark international anthology featuring poems from over 200 countries. Be the first to hear and meet the Parnassus poets and get your hands on copies of their new collections, and of course The World Record itself.

Our Readers & Writers education programme will simultaneously be launching The World Record at one of the refugee and migrant centres we work in regularly, the Migrants Resource Centre in central London. We’ll be launching the book there with Ketty Ketty Nivyabandi (representing Burundi), Nikola Madzirov (Macedonia) and Shailja Patel (Kenya). The book will be launched and served with delicious international food. As well as this, throughout the festival week, Readers & Writers will be taking Parnassus world poets in to the closed world of Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow. Detainees will meet, listen to, talk, read and write with poets from the Parnassus, to ensure that their great words reach as many people as possible.  We’re taking in the poets Saradha Soobrayen (representing Mauritius), Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Ghana), Kayo Chingonyi (Zambia), Abdullahi Botan (Somalia), Kosal Khiev (Cambodia) and Bewketu Seyoum (Ethiopia).

Then on Wednesday 27 June our Writers in Public and Writers at Risk programmes will be joining forces with PEN International to host Free the Word! – a series of free events and workshops exploring literature and freedom of expression, with special guests including our Honorary Member Zarganar, who was unexpectedly released from a 35 year prison sentence in October last year. Guests will also have the opportunity to take part in ‘living’ installations and creative writing workshops inspired by our current cases of concern.  

And last but not least, join us for ‘The World School: English PEN Translation Slam – a Poetic Duel’ on 29 June, a live, literary, linguistic duel like no other hosted by the legendary David Shook, Parnassus Translator in Residence.

More information is available on the Southbank Centre website.

About Cat Lucas

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

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