Monday, 18 May 2009

PEN Club Trieste: what's it all about?

The PEN Club Trieste was founded in 2003 and its constitution was ratified by the 69th Congress of International PEN held in Ciudad de México, November 2003.

Originally founded in 1921 to promote literature, today International PEN ( P.E.N. being an acronyme for Poets, Essayists and Novelists ) has 144 Centres in 102 countries across the globe. It recognises that literature is essential to understanding and engaging with other worlds; if you can't hear the voice of another culture how can you understand it?

International PEN’s primary goal is to engage with, and empower, societies and communities across cultures and languages, through reading and writing. Members believe that writers can play a crucial role in changing and developing civil society. International PEN does this through the promotion of literature, international campaigning on issues such as translation and freedom of expression and improving access to literature at international, regional and national levels.

The membership is open to all published writers who subscribe to the PEN Charter regardless of nationality, language, race, colour or religion.

The International PEN Charter affirms that:

1. Literature knows no frontiers and must remain common currency among people in spite of political or international upheavals.

2. In all circumstances, and particularly in time of war, works of art, the patrimony of humanity at large, should be left untouched by national or political passion.

3. Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect between nations; they pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class and national hatreds, and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in one world.

4. PEN stands for the principle of unhampered transmission of thought within each nation and between all nations, and members pledge themselves to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression in the country and community to which they belong, as well as throughout the world wherever this is possible. PEN declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in time of peace. It believes that the necessary advance of the world towards a more highly organised political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions imperative. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends

International PEN is a non-political organisation and has special consultative status at UNESCO and the United Nations.

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The foundation of PEN Club Trieste was approved in 2003 bearing in mind the peculiar - multiethnical, multilingual and multicultural - characteristics of our city.

As stated in occasion of our second Regional Conference, we do not consider the multiethnical, multilingual and multicultural situation of our city to be an unicum, but we strongly believe this to be perhaps the key to the future of many other PEN Centres, in a world where every passing year confirms the national element to be only one – and maybe not the more important one – of the characteristics connoting writing people.

One of the FAQ’s about the Conferences we have held till now in Trieste is: why do you call it a “regional” Conference? We make a point of it, “international” could be more appropriate, but we prefer to think of ourselves as the barycentre of an enlarged region, where languages, people, ideas could and should travel freely, with no borders. It will take another bit of time, but it shall happen.

The PEN Club Trieste firmly believes that under such a vision poets and writers shall play a role of paramount importance: that of constructors of bridges which shall contribute to overbridge the many trenches the past has left in Europe and in the world.

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