I was honoured to write and read as part of English PEN Writers at Risk‘s literary festival in London this April. It was a full day in solidarity with the work that PEN seeks to achieve – defending and promoting freedom of expression, and specifically campaigning on behalf of oppressed writers throughout the world.

I was writing directly in response to the writer Tsering Woeser, the Tibetan activist, essayist and poet who has faced house-arrest and censorship. She is incredible. Some of her articles can be found here and here.


The full schedule was as follows:

Harry Man on Maung Saung Kha
David Berridge on Dawit Isaak
Kirsten Irving on Nurmuhemmet Yasin
Jen Calleja on Gao Yu
SJ Fowler on Khadija Ismayilova
Dave Spittle on Ahmedur Rashid Chowdhury
Prudence Chamberlain on Patiwat Saraiyaem and Pornthip Munkhong
Robert Hampson on Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace
Adam Baron on Can Dündar and Erdem Gül
Andrew McMillan on Ashraf Fayadh
Eley Williams on Tsering Woeser
Sam Winston (with Jamie Perera) on Zunar
Lucy Harvest Clarke on Liu Xia
Stephen Emmerson on Dina Meza
Alex MacDonald on Alaa Abd El Fattah
Drew Milne on Omar Hazek
Oli Hazzard on Enoh Meyomesse
Caleb Klaces on Jorge Olivera Castillo
Tim Atkins on Liu Xiaobo
Caroline Bergvall on Sanjuana Martínez Montemayor
Emily Critchley on Mahvash Sabet
Andra Simons on Amanuel Asrat
Sarah Kelly on Nelson Aguilera
Allen Fisher on Mamadali Makhmudov
Nathan Walker on Mohammed al-‘Ajami
Michael Zand on U Zeya
Mark Waldron on Zhu Yufu
Mark Ravenhill on Mazen Darwish and Yara Bader
Emily Berry on Raif Badawi

Co-curator S J Fowler gave an excellent and important account of the day here, which includes videos of the performances, while the official PEN blog can be found here. Many thanks to Cat Lucas at PEN for her dedication and hard work; please do consider reading more about PEN’s work and what membership might mean for their organisation: https://www.englishpen.org/


Images and video courtesy of PEN America, and the Enemies Project.

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