Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Relazione sull'83° Congresso del PEN INTERNATIONAL a Lviv, Ucraina

Ogni anno pubblico in inglese una relazione che chiamo "diario di bordo" su quanto accade al Congresso, senza ambizioni giornalistiche, ma per dare a chi non può partecipare la sensazione di cosa succede a livello internazionale.

Se avrò tempo, cercherò di farne una traduzione in italiano.

As promised, here you have my day-by-day report from the Lviv Congress I couldn't do because of technical problems.

I hope it will give you an idea of what was going on in Lviv, even if the real thing was much more complex and interesting.


I got to get up at 3:00 am to be in Lviv at lunch time: weather was good. I chose to take a long walk in the city, realizing a small photographic safari.

Lviv is very beautiful, with a complicated history in political, linguistic and religious terms. It was an important city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with an architecture that reminds seamlessly Vienna (and therefore Trieste), Prague, Ljubljana and Bucharest.

I absolutely had to stop for a beer in a place whose name was written in Cyrillic БРУДЕРШАФТ (that’s Bruderschaft in German, brotherhood in English) and that's saying a lot about Lviv.

A quick dinner and back to the hotel, to discover that the WiFi was really lousy, and on top on that my tablet lost its Office program because Microsoft did not remind me of the due date… Hallelujah.


The day was dedicated to the Board meeting. From the participants list I note that the Centres should be around 65, but very few from Africa and Latin America.

For the Delegates and Participants there were possibilities of short excursions dedicated to “Lviv in Literature”. In the evening, it started raining.


The first day of the actual Congress was dedicated to the Meetings of the standing Committees. The time was organized by slots, so that there were 2 hours for each Committee dedicated to formalities that may request the active participation/voting of delegates representing Centres belonging to more than one Committee.

As a Board Member and a Delegate of Trieste PEN I visited first the TLRC Committee and participated to the election of Simona Škrabec. There was a report about the Bangalore meeting and Simona reported about many other issues and initiatives.

I missed the discussion about “Freedom of Expression in Post-Euromajdan Ukraine” I was told to have been very interesting with the participation of Mikola Riabchuck and Andrei Kurkhov among others.

Then I went to the WIPC for a while, hearing Salil Tripathi’s report about the organization of its works, the new Case List, the situation in the various parts of the world, Turkey being one of the most important topics. Also in this case, following the slots, I missed an intervention of Enoh Meyomesse.

In the afternoon, I attended the WfPC, discussing various issues about the liaison of this Committee with others, and about the project of a Peace Award to be conferred every 2 years - preferably to a book of a writer for his/her contribution to Peace. It’s a very ambitious project, for which we were looking for a very short motto. I suggested “Peace is made by books”.

Later on, I attended the WWC, in time to hear the last opinions about the Women’s Manifesto that is scheduled to be voted in this Congress. By the way, PEN Trieste is among the supporting Centres.

(I’m not joking affirming that the 6 “internationally recognized principles” endorsed by PEN International are in substance very similar to what my grandmother and my mother taught me when I was a boy…).

Then we went to the Opening Ceremony at Ivan Franko National University, with a speech of Philippe Sands.

Afterwards, there was a poetry reading in the LEM Station – a reconditioned shed – with a buffet.


The Main Assembly did begin today and started dedicating the Empty Chair #1 to Liu Xiao-Bo - and to his wife Liu Xia.

The proposed change to the Charter of PEN International was approved with a very large majority. There were many interventions about it.

Followed the Reports of the President, the International Secretary, the International Treasurer, the Board and the Executive Director, as well as the Reports of the Chairs of the standing Committees.

It is not possible to go into details here, but something you may like to know is that the Centenary of PEN International in 2021 will be almost surely hosted in Oxford.

The dues Centres pay to PEN International not having had any increase for the last ten years, it was decided with a majority vote to increase them by 15% starting from 2018.

Much to my regret, the New Voices Award is momentarily suspended.

The session ended with a Panel about Women & Publishing, with many interventions.

Always at the LEM Station, there was an homage to Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian writer and filmmaker serving 20 years in Russia on terrorism charges. Being this location quite noisy, I chose to have a quiet dinner downtown.


The Empty Chairs #2 and #3 were respectively Razan Zaitooneh and Tal Al-Mallouhi, two women activists in Syria.

The morning was dedicated to elections, so we heard the presentations of
  • ·       Jarkko Tontti (Finnish PEN) for a second mandate as International Treasurer
  • ·       Teresa Cadete (Portugal PEN) and Margie Orford (South Africa PEN) for a second mandate, Iman Humaydan (Lebanon PEN), Ola Larsmo (Swedish PEN), and Philip Slayton (Canadian PEN) for the first time as Members of the Board
  • ·       Simona Škrabec (Catalan PEN) for a second mandate as Chair of the TLRC as recommended by the TLRC itself
  • ·       Eric Lax (USA West PEN) and Judith Rodriguez (Melbourne PEN) as International Vice President
Jarkko Tontti, Simona Škrabec and Margie Orford were confirmed, Iman Humaydan was elected to the Board, and both Eric Lax and Judith Rodriguez were elected International Vice Presidents in the category “for services to PEN International”.

Four new Centres were presented to the Congress:
  • ·       Cuba – representative Reinaldo Montero, presented by Alicia Quiñones
  • ·       Gambia – whose representative Musa Sheriff could not be present, presented by Mohamed Sheriff
  • ·       South India – representative Kavitha Muralidharan, presented by Salil Tripathi
  • ·       St. Petersburg, representative Elena Chizova, presented by Eugene Schoulgin
After discussion, the Congress approved the new Centres, which were welcomed in the Congress room.

The OSCE Representative Philippe Désir made a speech on Freedom of the Media.

The first part of the afternoon was dedicated to public Panels on
  • ·       USA (America’s Reckoning – Threats to the First Amendment),
  • ·       China (China’s Shame – How a Poet Exposed the Soul of the Party)
  • ·       Russia (Putin Power Play – The Decline of Freedom of Expression in Russia)
held in the Ivan Franko National University Main Hall.

Then we went to the Potocki Palace for some poetics events.


The Empty Chair #4 was Pavel Šharamet, a Belorusian-born Russian journalist who died in a car explosion in Kiev.

The morning was mainly dedicated to the approval of many resolutions proposed by Centres about different issues. It has been observed that too many resolutions are presented as “in-session” without a real need for an urgent discussion.

The first one to be approved was the Women’s Manifesto, unanimously. It forms now part of a body of Manifestos and/or fundamental, general resolutions shaping all PEN International activity.

All the resolutions were approved unanimously or with a very large majority. The Resolution on Hate Speech presented by the WfPC, in consideration of the importance of the subject, was considered a good draft for a Manifesto to be discussed and finalized by a specific commission ad hoc.

Ench Meyomesse gave a speech about his personal experience in relation with the Make Space campaign, and was followed by a report of Elisabeth Dvyik of ICORN.

The following item being the organization of Congresses, Xabier Castro Martinez of Galician PEN spoke of Ourense Congress.

Margie Orford reported about the first steps of the organization of the Centenary and of the contacts with Oxford University. All Centres will be asked to contribute with documentation of their specific history to an initiative aiming at writing our whole history throughout these last 100 years.

Ganesh Devy of the new South India PEN gave a hearty speech about their will to host the Congress in 2018 near Mumbai. It seems a very promising Congress – and incidentally it coincides with the 100th anniversary of Mahatma’s Gandhi death. For many Centres it will be not exactly barycentric, but that happens for every Congress.

And off we go to the closing ceremony, in the Organ Hall, a fantastic ex-church with a spectacular organ and a little lady who played it (apparently) without any effort like it was the vertical piano of my grandmother…

Andrei Kurkov leaded the show like this was his ordinary job, with the opportune speeches by Jennifer, Mykola Riabchuk, Carles Torner and all the due thanks and applauses to everybody who helped throughout the Congress.

We were supposed to join a Farewell party in a location outside the centre of Lviv that had some characteristics of a disco and I decided to call it a day and have dinner in town.


In the morning we had the first batch of the Board’s retreat in Ivan Franko house – very interesting, but actually too cold. It rained all the afternoon and I decided to have dinner in a restaurant called Wiener Kaffeehaus, founded in 1829 (where else?). In that Kaffeehaus I wrote the small poem you will find below

Light rain
on a melancholy Leopolis
re-thinking its past
between imperial experiences
and small glories
in the middle of a chessboard
always more complicated
and yet always the same
in the essence
of national hates.

Lviv, September 22, 2017

Saturday 23

A rainy day. Some people did catch a cold yesterday, so the second batch of the Board Retreat was consummated at the Dnister Hotel, the venue of the Congress, by the way.

Some Board members took a small tour on a town I now know as my own pockets. We had a dinner together in a strange place a bit outside the centre, called “Kumpel” (also in this case it’s a German word, whose meaning is something between a friend, a chap you work with and a companion of some queer enterprise…).  In fact, it was a nice evening in a typical environment, a bit too noisy for chatting.

Sunday 24
All the possible gods being praised, my flight took off at 13.15 and after some hours I was home. All in all, a good Congress.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Organi Sociali del PEN Trieste 2017 - 2019

Per il triennio 2017- 2019 l'Assemblea del PEN Trieste - e rispettivamente il Direttivo - hanno eletto gli organi sociali come segue:

Presidente : Antonio Della Rocca
Vice Presidente : Rina Anna Rusconi
Segretaria : Lina Morselli
Membri: Paolo Alessi, Carla Carloni Mocavero, Massimiliano Cocozza, Enzo Santese, Marina Torossi Tevini.
Il Past President Juan Octavio Prenz è di diritto membro del Direttivo ex Art. 9 dello Statuto.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

In occasione del Natale e - purtroppo - dell'attentato di Berlino il nostro Socio Dirk-Uwe Becker ci invia una poesia che pubblichiamo volentieri

Heilig S(ch)ein

rot glitzert
auf dem asphalt
ein bein
ein arm
ein kopf
darüber lichterketten
der geruch nach
durchgebrannten mandeln
schreit das zeltdorf
glühwein und ein wenig
rauch, der aus
off’nen mündern steigt
entsetzens starr verharrt
die zeit – die zeit
vergeht und es bewegt
ein bein
ein arm
ein kopf
sich zu dem
ort der tat
im hintergrund
ein lastkraftwagen
führer los!
schreien bald die ersten
machen jagd
auf jene
die man dafür hielt
und im gewimmel
aller eventualitäten
entflieht der böse geist
der sich aus isis
antiquierter flasche schob
unsere welt in die steinzeit
rück zu treten
und betreten die politiker
die waffen in die isis-länder
exportieren, um sich daheim
aus dem leiden
fremder völker
die rendite
in den eignen brotkorb
schreit das zeltdorf
sind einzig die, welche
nicht den ersten stein …

Dirk-Uwe Becker, 22. Dezember 2016
zum Attentat auf dem Berliner Breitscheidplatz am 19.12.2016

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


Come ogni anno, allego le brevi note in inglese che pubblico giorno dopo giorno sulla pagina PEN International on Facebook al fine di fornire un minimo di informazione a Centri e Soci che non abbiano potuto - per motivi personali o economici - essere presenti.

Ho il piacere di constatare che da quando ho inaugurato questa modalità informativa qualche anno fa diversi colleghi relazionano sul Congresso via Facebook.

Quest'anno - contrariamente alle previsioni, visto che il Congresso ha dovuto essere organizzato in gran fretta a causa del ritiro della candidatura del PEN Puerto Rico come ospitante - la partecipazione è stata di 75 Centri, un certo numero dei quali hanno avuto un sostegno da parte di altri Centri.

Buona lettura ! 

 Monday 26

Arrived on the 24th in Ourense, a fascinating city in Galicia.
Yesterday Sunday 25 we had the usual Board meeting before the Congress, meeting many old friends.

Today we had the meetings of the standing Committees and we met most of the Delegates.
I attended the Writers for Peace General meeting chaired by Edvard Kovac, where Sarah Perry told us about the PEN International Global Campaign.
The most important issue addressed was that of Refugees. There was also the recommendation to elect Marjan Strojan of Slovene PEN (who could not be present to the General Meeting) as Chair of the Committee instead of Tone Persak, who resigned having been nominated Minister of Culture of Slovenia. Marjan was actually elected in the afternoon. Jennifer Clement was also present to the WfPC in the morning.
Then I attended the Writers in Prison Committee meeting, chaired by Salil Tripathi, while Zeinep Oral, President of Turkey PEN, spoke about the critical situation in this country.
In the afternoon, I attended briefly the Translation & Literary Rights Committee meeting, chaired by Simona Skrabec, whose subject In that moment was the Literary Linguistic Rights Declaration, and the Women Writers Committee, chaired by Elisabeth Lundgren, where I was invited to say a few words.
This evening we will take part in some official ceremonies in the Teatro Principal and to a reception given by the Mayor.

Tuesday 27

Today the Congress started with the usual procedures, but before that the Empty Chair #1 was dedicated to Ahmed Naji (Egypt) after a short intervention of Laura Garcia Lorca.
The Centres were asked to propose ideas, suggestions and observations and there were about 20 intervention
The discussion about the proposed Amending Resolution to PEN International Charter, introduced by Margie Orford, Mohamed Sheriff and Xavier Castro Martinez, was very wide and interesting with many interventions.
After lunch, the Board accepted to review the text of the resolution taking into consideration the suggestions of the Centres and to propose the revised text not less than 6 months before the subsequent session of the Assembly of delegates.
The Reports of the President, of the Secretary and of the Treasurer, as well as that on behalf of the Board and that of the Executive Director were presented to the Assembly.
An encounter with a representative of SIDA – an important funder of PEN International – did follow.
Immediately after we were presented the results of Gender Study about our structure.
The session ended with a Panel about Literature as a tool for empowerment.
In the evening a Galician Poetry reading.

Wednesday 28

The day started with the Empty Chair #2 Guy Minhal (China) introduced by his son.
A short presentation of the activities of PEN in Hong Kong followed.
After that we heard the Reports of the Chairs of the Committees WWC, WfPC, T&LRC and WiPC with some interventions from the floor.
A Resolution presented by Norway and Swedish PEN was discussed, about whistlebrowers (in particular Snowden) after many observations.
The election of Marjan Strojan to the Chair of the Peace Committee was ratified by the General Assembly.
A panel about Violence online was held by Salil Tripath (English/WiPC), Dina Meza (Honduras), Margie Orford (South Africa) and Grace Mutandwa (Zimbabwe).
The elections of 2 Vice Presidents and of the International Secretary were held before lunch.
Takeaki Hori (PEN Japan) and Franca Tiberto (Swiss Italian and Retoromansh PEN) were elected International Vice Presidents for Services to PEN with more than the due 2/3 majority.
Kätlin Kaldmaa (PEN Estonia) was elected International Secretary with 39 votes, I got 29 votes. There were 7 abstentions, something unusual in this kind of votes. Anyway, I’m still on the Board for other 2 years.
In the meanwhile the Global PEN Campaign was presented to the Assembly,
During the afternoon there were some workshops about the Women in PEN review,
I attended a workshop on Haiku in honour of Takeaki Hori.

Thursday 29

The Empty Chair of today was Asli Erdogan (Turkey) introduced by Zeynep Oral.
The proposed PEN Togo was unanimously accepted.
A number or Centres was proposed for dormancy not having given signals of activity for many years: African Writers Abroad, Afar Speaking, Iraq, Roma, Somali Speaking, Tunisia and Writers in Exile London Branch. There was a discussion about these dormancies that in the end were approved.
During this session we heard a delegation of the Spanish PEN, proposed for dormancy in Québec, that should have been declared closed this year. The President of the Spanish PEN read a long letter in Spanish. After discussion, the decision was postponed to the next Congress.
After a Panel about Protection, there were the elections of the Members-at-Large of the Board. Anders Heger and Mohamed Sheriff were re-elected and Ma Thida of Myanmar PEN was elected.
In the afternoon all resolutions were approved, most of them unanimously.
Sorry for a short report, but I did catch a cold and was not in a 100% condition…