Newsletter April 2011

Director’s Note

The Arts Council said to expect an email at 7.30 on Wednesday morning. So there I was, hunched over the computer in my dressing gown. Would English PEN receive continued funding? Would we be able to survive on a reduced grant? Would we be cut altogether? At 8.07am I discovered that English PEN’s future funding is not only safe; it will increase threefold. With an increase of 190% in real terms, we can face the future with confidence.

This is a huge endorsement from the Arts Council for everything that PEN stands for and I want to thank every single member, supporter and volunteer who has made this such a vibrant and exciting organisation. Our new funding will be directed primarily towards literary translation, helping to realise PEN’s founding vision of a world in which ‘literature knows no frontiers’. We need to raise match funding to ensure that we’re successful in this and in all our other campaigns, events and educational projects. In the meantime, what better way to celebrate our good news than by joining us for next week’s Free the Word! festival, on 6-10 April here at the Free Word Centre: I look forward to seeing you.

Writers in Public

From April 6-10, we’ll be celebrating some of the very best in international writing. Free the Word! 2011 will feature the writers Geoff Dyer, Romesh Gunesekera, Gabriel Josipovici, Hisham Matar, Margie Orford, Juan Gabriel Vasquez and many more as the festival explores if and how novelists and poets can speak truth to power. For full details of this exciting weekend and to book tickets please see our events page.

Also this month, the English PEN Literary Café returns to London Book Fair for a fourth successful year. We’ll be hosting a range of Russian Market Focus authors in partnership with the British Council, as well as a number of other great writers including Philip Hensher, Cory Doctorow, Margie Orford and Claire Tomalin. We’ll also be awarding the PEN/Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History.

In March we were delighted to continue our exciting programme of events celebrating our 90th Anniversary by welcoming, David Lodge. David discussed his new novel A Man of Parts, which unfolds the extraordinary life of HG Wells, President of International PEN during the turbulent years 1933-36. A full report is available on our website ( and photographs from the evening are available online: (

English PEN no longer issues paper tickets for its events. When your booking is made you will be entered on a list in the office and this list will be used to verify your booking on the night. Should you need a receipt for your own records for any event, then please email Amy Oliver on with the details and we will be happy to provide one.

Sarah Hesketh

Assistant Director

To find out more about events at the Free Word Centre, visit Free Word’s events page.

We are very grateful to HW Fisher, who sponsor all our Writers in Public events. The Authors and Journalists team have many years’ experience in helping clients minimise their tax liability. If you have a tax query then do call our free tax help line for English PEN members on 44 (0) 20 7874 7876 and quote ‘PEN’ alternatively, email your query (please quote ‘PEN’ in the subject line) to Andrew Subramaniam ( or Barry Kernon (

Readers & Writers

Readers & Writers launched three new books this month, written by young people and adults who are refugees and asylum seekers. Everyone published attended one of our Readers & Writers programmes at their local migrant centre. If you would like a copy of one of our books, request one by emailing More on our work with New Communities next month; this month, we’re focusing on our work in prisons…

We are delighted to announce that Readers & Writers has received funding from the Monument Trust for the next three years to continue with our very successful programme, working closely with the prison estate to bring Readers & Writers author events and books inside.

This last month has been devoted to contacting our prison partners in libraries and education departments to assess what they have found useful and productive about our PEN author visits. We aim to continue reaching out to new prisons who do not know about our work, and to offer more to the prisons who have welcomed us in the last three years with a more regular event focussing on the groups’ particular appetites for reading and writing.

It is important to foster new relationships with local authors, and so HMP Wayland in Norfolk has asked for Louis De Bernières to visit and he has agreed. Children’s writer Malorie Blackman is going into HMP Holloway in June and the poet Karen McCarthy Woolf has recently visited the women’s prison HMP Downview in Surrey. We are keen to build up our work in the female estate and to support those communities who would benefit the most from our programmes. We look forward to increasing and adding value to our Readers & Writers work in prison and we are grateful for Monument’s belief in the importance of what we do.

Philip Cowell

Programme Manager

Irene Garrow

Programme Officer

Writers in Prison

Cases of Concern


There is widespread concern for the safety of Honorary Member Eynulla Fatullayev who on 2 March 2011 was transferred from a pre-trial detention facility to Baku no.1 prison and at his own request is now being held in solitary confinement for fear of being assaulted by other inmates. Eynulla is reportedly in the worst state he has been since his arrest – he is depressed and afraid, has lost a lot of weight, and is starting to lose hope, whilst reports suggest that he is not being provided with the necessary medication. He is, however, very aware of our ongoing support and is grateful for all the efforts that have been made.

To raise and maintain awareness of Eynulla’s case, we will be organising a worldwide ‘Day of Action’ on Wednesday 20 April 2011 – four years since his arrest. English PEN will be joining forces with other NGOs to organise a demonstration here in London between 12 and 1pm outside the Embassy of Azerbaijan (4 Kensington Court, London, W8 5DL). Please come along if you are able to and spread the word through your networks – the more people that join the protest, the stronger our message will be. Even if you’re not able to attend the demonstration, there is no reason you can’t be involved in the Day of Action, for example by sending appeal letters or letters of support to Eynulla himself. For more details contact

English PEN was also alarmed to learn of the kidnapping and beating of journalist Seymur Khaziyev on 26 March. The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, of which PEN International is a member, has published a press release calling for a thorough investigation into the assault on Khaziyev and for an end to the climate of impunity in Azerbaijan.

Recent Events


Jude Law at the demonstration for Belarus

On 28 March, English PEN joined a protest march in honour of those currently detained in Belarus in violation of their right to free expression. Around 200 people gathered to call for the immediate and unconditional release of prisoners of conscience in Belarus, including journalists Dimitri Bondarenko, Aleksandr Fiaduta and Pavel Severinets. We also called for the release from house arrest of Vladimir Neklyaev and Irina Khalip, and for the lifting of the severe restrictions placed on the movements of Natalia Radzina.

The protest march, led by actors Jude Law and Kevin Spacey, began outside the offices of the PR company Grayling to highlight their continued business within Belarus. The group then marched en masse down Victoria Street to the House of Commons for a performance by the Belarus Free Theatre and Jude Law, the first time in recent history that the dissident theatre company has performed inside a working chamber of a Western Parliament.

Photos / Videos / Press / Petition

To read ‘Belarus after elections: state terrorism and itshostages, a statement from the Belarusian PEN Centre about the current situation on the ground please click here.

Please continue to send letters of support to fellow writers in Belarus – Vladimir Neklyaev, Irina Khalip, Natalia Radzina, Pavel Severinets, Aleksandr Fiaduta and Dimitri Bondarenko. For further details, please click here.


As part of the Worldwide Reading campaign for Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, organised by the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin, our student group, based at King’s College London, organised a wonderful evening of music and poetry at the Gallery Cafe, including a bilingual performance of Liu Xiaobo’s poem ‘You Wait for me with Dust‘. Members of the audience signed an open letter to Hu Jintao and wrote postcards of support to Liu Xiaobo. Huge thanks to Juno Fitzpatrick for organising the event and to all the performers and The Gallery Cafe for making it such a special evening. Photos / Videos


English PEN are delighted to report the release from prison of our Honorary Member independent journalist Pedro Argüelles Morán on 4 March 2011. Argüelles, who has been allowed to stay in Cuba under a special parole programme, is the last of the many writers arrested in March 2003 government crackdown on dissidents to be freed, two weeks before the eighth anniversary of the ‘Black Spring’. However, journalist Albert Santiago Du Bouchet Hernández, detained in 2009, remains in prison. We continue to call for Du Bouchet’s immediate and unconditional release, and for the release of all of the ‘Black Spring’ writers to be made unconditional. Please send appeals.

To read ‘The Miracle of Freedom’, a statement by recently released Cuban journalist, librarian and poet Ricardo Gonzalez Alfonso on the occasion of the 9th Writers in Prison Conference, please click here.


Writing to prisoners: If you are interested in writing to one of our current cases of concern on a regular basis, or in joining our Books to Prisoners programme, please contact

Facebook: Those of you on Facebook can keep up to date with current cases of concern and WiPC activities by clicking ‘like’ on the English PEN Writers in Prison page. And please recommend it to all your friends!

Cat Lucas

Campaigns Officer

UK Campaigns

Libel Campaign

As anticipated, the government published its draft Defamation Bill in March. Enlgish PEN and the Libel Reform Campaign have given the draft Bill a cautious welcome. We were pleased to see that the Government has included strong defences of truth and justification, and has outlined measures to stop ‘libel tourism’. However, there were no clauses relating to the right of corporations to sue, and Internet Service Providers need much better protections against ‘take down’ notices. Immediately prior to the publication of the draft Bill, English PEN and the Libel Reform Campaign produced our ‘blue print’ on the issue.

A group of MPs, including members of the influential Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, have tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament, calling for a stronger libel bill. We need your help to encourage more MPs to sign. Write to your MP now!

One key demand of our campaign is the reduction of costs. If a libel dispute is cheaper there will be greater access to justice on both sides, and both freedom of speech and reputation will be better protected. English PEN has received a research grant from the Nuffield Foundation to run the Alternative Libel Project, looking at alternatives to the High Court. We have appointed Helen Anthony as the lead researcher on this project, and the campaigns team are looking forward to working with her on this crucial project.

Visa Campaign

The current visa system discourages writers from visiting the UK. The House of Lords recently debated this problem, and we were very grateful to PEN members Helena Kennedy and Joan Bakewell who both spoke passionately during the debate. English PEN produced a short briefing which was cited in the chamber. You can read it here.

Unfortunately, the response from the government minister was disappointing, with little indication that the Government will take action to correct the problems with the system, and reverse some of the damage being done to our cultural and education sectors. We will be lobbying the UK Border agency further on this issue, asking for temporary cultural visitors to be removed from the point-based visa system. If you have any questions, concerns or information about this issue then please contact us.

Robert Sharp

Campaigns Manager

Writers in Translation

Three Sisters

We’re absolutely thrilled that Bi Feiyu has won the 2010 Man Asian Literary Prize for Three Sisters. The novel was awarded a Writers in Translation grant in 2010 and we would like to congratulate the author, translators Howard Goldblatt and Sylcia Li-chun Lin, and publisher Telegram Books for their work on this great title.

Bi Feiyu was due to visit the UK last year for events to promote the book but was stuck in visa bureaucracy so Writers in Translation are especially pleased that his work has received this recognition.

The judges of the prize described Three Sisters as a

“moving exploration of Chinese family and village life during the Cultural Revolution that moves seamlessly between the epic and the intimate, the heroic and the petty, illuminating not only individual lives but an entire society, within a gripping tale of familial conflict and love.”

Our Chair Ros Schwartz, was also delighted:

“This book tells a wonderful story and we hope this prize will introduce more British readers to Bi Feiyu’s work. By reading more work in translation, we can gain real understanding and insights into other cultures. This is why free of expression is so universally important.


We’re also happy that Lovetown by Michal Witkowski, translated from the Polish by W. Martin, has been long listed got for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. The shortlist (of six) will be announced at the London Book Fair on Monday 11th April at the Literary Translation Centre.

Literary Translation Centre 2011

This year’s Literary Translation Centre seminar programme covers a rich range of current subjects featuring people from all aspects of translation and publishing. Whether you are a student, translator, writer or publisher, we’re sure you will find something of interest at the Literary Translation Centre so please join us. Free Word and English PEN will be hosting three seminars:

MONEY TALKS: Why funders should care about translation

Monday 11th April 1.30 – 2.30pm

  • Chair – Shreela Ghosh – Director, The Free Word Centre
  • Isabel Lucena – International Officer, Gulbenkian Foundation
  • Antonia Byatt -Director, Literature, Arts Council England
  • Caroline McCormick – Lead Advisor, the National Theatre
  • Bente Roalsvig – Project Director, Fritt Ord

THE TRANSLATION AGENCY: Turning an idea into reality

Monday 11th April 3 – 3.30pm

  • Chair – Amanda Hopkinson, Translator
  • Ros Schwartz – Translator, Chair of WiT Committee
  • Kerry Glencorse – Agent, Susanna Lea Associates
  • Danny Hahn – Co-director BCLT, translator
  • Katharina Bielenberg – Editor, translator, MacLehose Press
  • Edgar de Bruin – Literary agent, Pluh, Holland

BOOKSELLERS’ CHOICE: The art of selling literature in translation

Wednesday 13th April 3 – 4pm

  • Chair – Rosie Goldsmith, Journalist
  • Max Porter – Bookseller, James Daunt
  • David Del Vecchio – Bookseller, Idlewild Books, New York
  • Cathy Rentzenbrink – Publisher Relationship Manager, Waterstones
  • Nadia Wassef – Bookseller, Diwan Books, Egypt
  • Angela Hicken – Literature Development Officer, Hampshire Council

Global Translation Initiative at the London Book Fair

Our Director, Jonathan Heawood, will be launching the first Global Translation Initiative report during a seminar organised by Literature Across Frontiers on Tuesday 12th April. The Global Translation Initiative is a Free Word and English PEN project that aims to strengthen support for literary translation and share information between English-language translation communities throughout the world.

Translation Intelligence: Surveys, Reports, Statistics – What’s the Story Behind Them?

Tuesday 12th April 10 – 11am

  • Chair – Alexandra Buchler, Director of Literature Across Frontiers
  • Jonathan Heawood – Director of English PEN
  • Martin Riker – Dalkey Archive Press
  • Rüdiger Wischenbart – President, Content and Consulting

For more information about the Literary Translation Centre, click here.

For reduced rate tickets (£10) please register here or here.

Emma Cleave

Programme Manager

New Publications

A list of members’ personal websites can be found in the Members Only section of our website. If you would like your website added to the list then please email with details. Scratchpad, a web showcase for members’ writing, can also be found in the Members Only Section. If you’ve got itchy fingers and would appreciate feedback from your peers then please send a copy of your work and contact details to

The members’ only section of the website can be accessed by entering the username literature and the password mds1921.

Messages from Friends of English PEN

Speakers Corner Trust

The Trust this week published a fascinating and timely essay on The Development of Free Speech in
Modern Britain
. Written by Dr John Roberts, lecturer in sociology
and communications at Brunel University and an acknowledged expert on the
subject, this is the second in SCT’s Occasional

Landscape at the Wordsworth Trust

  • Tutor: Paul Batchelor & Wordsworth Trust staff
  • Venue: The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere, Cumbria
  • Date / Time: 5pm, Friday 8 April – 1pm, Sunday 10 April
  • Price: £125, £110 (60 ), £80 (concs)
  • Level: open to all

To book: 0207 582 1679 or online

A weekend in the Lake District contemplating the landscapes and ideas which inspired Wordsworth, Coleridge and their contemporaries. You’ll be writing, reading, walking and discussing poetry in great company. More details at

And Other Stories

Are you interested in contemporary European fiction? And Other Stories is a new literary publisher that is as much about creating debate around world literature as it is about publishing. We host reading groups to find the best contemporary fiction that has not yet been published in English. This spring we are launching Russian, German, Portuguese and French reading groups.

You can request a copy of the books to be discussed and comment either online or in person at our meet-ups. English excerpts are being added to the author pages as they become available.

For more information, visit or contact

Curious Café Book

2 April- 4 June, Lemon Monkey, London N16

The Society for Curious Thought launches a new project in collaboration with the Stoke Newington Literary Festival this week. It invites people to think in all directions and to reflect on their own inspirations, aspirations and experiences to encourage the process of writing, the freeing of imagination and promotion of a shared experience of the written word; to serve as a record of people in a particular time and space.

From April 2, 2011, The Curious Café Book – a blank manuscript book – will appear in local café Lemon Monkey, a popular café that attracts a wide cross section of local residents and visitors to the area. To find out more, visit the Society’s website.

What’s the Point of Art? 2

  • Monday 11 April
  • St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, 78 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AG
  • £8

Please join us for a unique opportunity to hear possibly the most influential British film producer of recent decades discuss the value of art, and the recent cuts to funding – including the abolition of the Film Council.

David Puttnam’s record is unparalleled. He has produced films as diverse as Mahler, Bugsy Malone, Midnight Express, Cal, Chariots of Fire, Local Hero, The Killing Fields, The Mission and Memphis Belle. He remains the only Englishman to have run a Hollywood Studio.

To find out more and to book tickets, please click here.

50 Years of Writers in Prison Committee: Natasha Schmidt & Salil Tripathi

  • 17 April, 6pm
  • Cambridge Union
  • £6

As part of Cambridge Wordfest, Salil Tripathi, Chair of English PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee, and Natasha Schmidt, Editor of Beyond Bars: 50 Years of the PEN Writers in Prison Committee will consider the unique role writers have played and continue to play in supporting colleagues around the world, the impact of imprisonment on writing, and the challenges writers continue to face today.

For full details visit

For the latest information from English PEN please visit If you don’t want to receive the newsletter please email

English PEN is a company limited by guarantee, number 5747142, and a charity, number 1125610.

Registered offices: Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA, 020 7324 2535

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