On Wednesday 27 June PEN International and English PEN will host a series of Free the Word! literary events at the Poetry Parnassus festival, part of the London 2012 Festival. The events, taking place in the in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, will see some of the world’s most renowned writers, thinkers and academics debate key literary and freedom of expression issues. Attendance is free and visitors will be able to take action on behalf of imprisoned writers worldwide, get involved with ‘living’ installations and take part in creative writing workshops focusing on Writers At Risk.
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, including Seamus Heaney, Wole Soyinka, John Agard, Shailja Patel, Jack Mapange and Rafeef Ziadeh for the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK. Simon Armitage, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence, has said:
My hunch is that this will be the biggest poetry event ever – a truly global coming together of poets and a monumental poetic happening worthy of the spirit and history of the Olympics themselves.
PEN International’s Free the Word! festival will kick off with a breakfast at which visitors will be able to learn more about PEN’s role in promoting literature and the issues that affect writers around the world. A series of dynamic debates will follow – chaired among others by Sir Andrew Motion – on topics ranging from exile to language death, (anti-)nationalism, borders and identity. Throughout the day visitors will be able to work closely with writer and artist Wendy Ann Greenhalgh, AKA Story Scavenger, to compose poems inspired by the work of imprisoned or persecuted writers, which will be sent directly to those whose work inspired them.
For a full list of events taking place, please click here
For all events at Poetry Parnassus, click here
For more information and to request interviews please contact PEN International’s Literary Manager, Paul Finegan: paul.finegan@pen-international