As a member of the estimable literary advocacy organization the PEN American Center I attended a number of events during the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature last May and reported on some of them for the PEN blog*. More than two dozen PEN members have accepted the invitation to become Festival Correspondents this spring and I’m excited I’ll again be one of them. We’ll be posting to a friendly new tumblr platform** and fanning out all over the city to participate in and cover the fifty-event literary smorgasbord with nearly 100 novelists, poets, playwrights, translators, critics, and editors from dozens of countries. There are many highlights on the program, including two with women writers that I’ll be covering on Thursday, May 3. In the first, Margaret Atwood will be discussing The Writer’s Mind and the Digital Otherworld with longtime editor and friend Amy Grace Lloyd. In 2005, I published a book with Margaret, Writing with Intent: Essays, Reviews, Personal Prose 1983-2005, a collection of fifty-eight pieces of her criticism and literary journalism, so it should be fascinating to hear her examine such questions as “What does it mean to write with the Web? and “How does our constant access to information and ideas affect the landscape of imagination?” The second program will be Understanding Egypt with the courageous Mona Eltahawy who I wrote about on this blog, in The Broken Bones of Mona Eltahawy, after she was beaten by Egyptian security forces, later re-gaining her freedom in in part because of global online protests, especially on Twitter.
These ticketed events will be held at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, beginning at 6 PM and 8 PM respectively. I invite you to attend one or both of these talks. Make an evening of it! If you do choose to attend, or end up at another event during the week, please say hello. PEN encourages active literary citizenship so if you are a writing or publishing professional, and have been considering getting involved, I suggest you do so. The international and domestic work PEN does on behalf of free expression is extremely effective and important.
For my readers’ convenience, here again is a link to the Festival program.
**To read the PEN World Voices Festival tumblr please use this link. The Twitter hashtag for the festival will be #PENFest12. As soon as my full schedule for the week is available I will share it here. Meantime, here is my newly updated PEN member profile page.