Wednesday, 19 September 2012

78° Congresso Mondiale del PEN International a Gyeongju (Corea del Sud)

Questa è la relazione in inglese che è stata pubblicata giornalmente sulla pagina "PEN International on Facebook" che per ragioni di rapidità pubblico integralmente adesso.
Il ritorno da Gyeongju è stato allietato dal tifone Sanpa che mi ha costretto a percorrere la tratta Gyeongju - Seoul in treno perchè i voli sono stati cancellati... :o)

Ovvia la mia soddisfazione personale per essere membro dell'International Board, il che si riflette sulla visibilità del nostro Centro che non ha ancora compiuto 10 anni.

Mi dispiace solo che Claudio Martelli non abbia potuto avere la soddisfazione di vedere che quanto abbiamo costruito dal 2003 in qua ha avuto un grande riconoscimento a livello internazionale.

From Congress, about Sunday 9th

Arrived on Sunday, on a rainy day. Delegates are coming in but many are still on their way.

Took part in the Finance Subcommittee in the late morning.
An obligatory short nap in the afternoon, meeting delegates, Korean dinner outside the hotel.

In the evening musical entertainment at the Art Centre of Gyeongju, the spectacle being MISO2, about the History of Korea - fantastic scenography and music.
Short night walk in an historical park.
Today more contacts with people and the Opening Ceremony. Meetings in the afternoon.

From the Congress, Monday 10th

More people still coming (it’s a long journey, many are tired, I for one)

Opening Ceremony, speeches of Gilwon Lee, President of PEN Korea, John Ralston Saul and of the Minister of Culture Kwang-shik Choe, the Governor of the Gyeongsagbuk-do Kwan-yong Kim and the Mayor of Gyeongju Yang-sik Choe. Gilwon Lee announced the constitution of the PEN of Korean Writers in Exile.

An interesting video clip about the structure of the Hangul alphabet , invented about 1450 by the king Sejong, an ante litteram example of binary combination of signs thought in order to simplify the Chinese alphabet.

A shorter version of the performance of MISO2 followed by a conference about binary opposition by O Young Lee.

An oceanic lunch with many members of PEN Korea.

Two speeches of the Nobel Prizes Wole Soyinka e Jean-Marie Le Clezio.

Three rounds of seminaries and sharing of experiences – very interesting indeed as methodology - about Centre Governance, Campaigns and Communication/Freedom of Expression, Finance and Fundraising, Public Policy, event hosting (Congresses and Literary Events), Centre Development and Growth. I did a tour through fast every meetings, with a good affluence and many interventions. This is a sure proof that there is an interest for this kind of issues and for the sharing of experiences.

Other oceanic Welcome Dinner with the Korean Drum and Dance Group.

Tomorrow the actual work begins, in the morning meetings of all the 4 Committees.

From the Congress, Tuesday 11

Well, today the sun is shining, and that puts one in another mood.

This morning the PEN Commitees (WWC, WiPC, T&LRC and WfPC) had their Meetings in preparation of the General Meeting.

The Women Writers Committee had to elect its new Chairperson, whose election has to be formally ratified by the General Meeting. Ekbal Baraka (Egyptian PEN) prevailed over Elizabeth Lundgren (Finnish PEN). I think we all (women and men) should be grateful to Judith Buckrich and to Lucina Kathmann for the complicated task they had to carry on during the last year.

I’m personally very happy that the WWC has a new President and that it can reorganize itself with the contribution of all its members. I wish Ekbal all the luck she and the women represented by her deserve, and will put consequently to her/their disposal my experience, that I will be elected or not.

I share with my wife Lina Morselli – who is the antenna of PEN Trieste towards WWC - the belief that individuals could and should work well together irrespective of their sex or gender.

As for the Writers in Prison Committee, Marian Botsford Fraser (Canadian PEN) was confirmed Chairperson of the WiPC. I wish also Marian all the best in the prosecution of her difficult and vital work.

I can’t go into details of the works of WWC, WiPC and T&LRC of this morning because I was engaged in my role into the Writers for Peace Committee.

I happen to know that T&LRC is working on a new document after the Girona Manifest, as we at WfPC are working on a manifest of our own. I suppose that every Committee was going through the Activity Reports of 2011 and was updating its to-do list from now on :o).

John was visiting all the Committees and I suppose that he asked all Committees, as he did for the WiPC, to make concrete proposals for their activity.

After lunch the meetings went on till 16.00, at which time we went to a poetry reading followed by a dinner in the Arts Centre of Geyongju and a musical. If interrogated, I will take the Fifth Amendment, but they say that someone choose a moment of freedom… :o)

Tomorrow morning we have to go back to work, the General Meeting starts at 9.00 exactly. Afterwards there will be some social/cultural activity.

From the Congress, Wednesday 11

Still a sunny day.

The General Meeting starts with the usual half an hour delay :o)

This being a formal session, there are many formalities to be executed.

After a welcome to everybody from the President – and in particular to new Centres and to Delegates who attend for the first time the General Meeting – there is a short speech of the President about the most relevant facts of the last period.

A minute of silence in memoriam for Members deceased in 2011.

To follow:

• the Minutes of the last GM in Belgrade,
• the Report by the International Treasurer
• the Report by International Secretary,
• the the appointment of the Auditors,
• the Report by the Executive Director (multimedia)

all approved unanimously.

A Draft of the PEN International Declaration on Free Expression and Digital Technologies was presented by the Digital Right Committee, headed by Takeaki Hori.

This Draft was already discussed during the meetings of the 4 Committees of yesterday.

A discussion on digital media issues followed. Contribution are still open to Centres and Members.

The General Meeting ended at 12.30. A rush for lunch and off we go to a tour near Gyeongju. Visit to some important monuments and – much to the surprise of many – to a plant dedicated to radioactive waste :o(

We attended a Free the Word Festival at the Dongguk University, with a conversation with Soyinka, Le Clezio and a Korean poet, moderated by John Ralston Saul.

A rush home, that is at the hotel, dinner and relax.

Tomorrow the elections of the President, of 2 Members at Large of the Board and of the Search Committee will take place.

From the Congress, Thursday 13

Sorry for the delay, but yesterday was a busy day... :o)

Schedule was changed, there was first a report about the networks by Frank Geary, and the we went to the Network Workshops. I personally choose to go to the Latin-American Network in order to have an update about the situation of Latin American PEN Centres and be in the position to offer my support.

Back to the General Meeting, there was the item Presentations of Candidates & Elections waiting for us :o)

John Ralston Saul, candidate to the Presidency, was presented by Emile Martel (PEN Quebec).

For the Board, Marketa Heikalova was presented by Gil-Won Lee (PEN Korea), Margie Orford by Nicholas Kalinga (PEN Zambia) and Antonio Della Rocca by Solomon Hailemariam (Ethiopian PEN).

As International Vice President, Vida Ognjenovic was presented by Edvard Kovac (Slovenian PEN).

All candidates presented themselves, and were requested to answer a random question they did know about before.

The results were:

John Ralston Saul was elected with 72 votes (5 abstentions)

For the 2 places of Member at Large of the Board:

Marketa Heikalova got 51 votes

Antonio Della Rocca 48

Margie Orford 46.

Consequently, Marketa and myself were elected.

Vida Ognjenovic was elected with 69 (5 abstentions)

A Panel discussion, chaired by Sara Whyatt, including representatives of the PEN Emergency Fund, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN).

After lunch, there was the discussion about the PEN International Standing Committee Reports (and the announcement of the results of the internal elections that have to be agreed upon by the General Meeting.

- Writers for Peace Committee - presented by Edi Kovac
- Writers in Prison Committee - presented by Marian Botsford-Fraser
- Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee presented by Emile Martel
- Women Writers Committee presented by Lucina Kathmann

all unanimously approved.

After that, we run off to XXX for a spectacle, a dinner and a musical – all of that in open air but in a strange climate more near to fog than rain... :o)


So, I have been elected Member at Large of the Board. It was a very good contest, my competitors were above all friends and with many merits. I have to thank for it my colleagues delegates who voted for me, but I feel that I owe also to all the Members of this page for my election.

I think you have a right to know what I told to the General Meeting: I spoke in Spanish and I will post here the original text. Should anyone like to read it in English, I will post it as a file in the next days.

John, Takeaki, Eric, Laura, estimadas Amigas y Amigos,

He decidido hablar en español porque de los idiomas oficiales del PEN este es el que siento más cercano.

Antes de empezar permítanme darle las gracias a Tarik Günersel por haberme cordialmente empujado  a presentar mi candidatura una vez más para la Junta Directiva, a Solomon Hailemariam por su entusiasta presentación, y a Gil-won Lee por la organización de este Congreso. Gam sa hap mi da.

Ya he publicado en Facebook una especie de discurso de presentación en inglés, en el cual explico en detalle a qué quisiera dedicar mis esfuerzos en la hipótesis de ser elegido.

Sin embargo ahora tengo que ser breve, así que he decidido hablarles sobre mi visión general del PEN Internacional.

Nosotros somos una gran organización, y para conseguir nuestro objetivos tememos que mejorar nuestra manera de operar.

Para hacer eso, tenemos que interactuar más y aún más.

La Junta Directiva tiene que interactuar: cada uno de sus miembros debe estar en continuo contacto con los otros y posiblemente tener su campo específico de actividad.

Los Comités tienen que interactuar: cada Comité necesita una estructura apropiada, sus propios recursos financieros y una conexión eficiente con los Ejecutivos y con la Junta Directiva.

Estoy consciente que en mi discurso hay un riesgo de sobresimplificación, pero mi impresión es que actualmente la estructura de los Comités sea desbalanceada, y que esto representa un riesgo para nuestra eficiencia interna y para nuestra imagen externa.

También los Centros tienen que interactuar: los nuevos Networks, las Redes, representan una buena forma de hacerlo, pero yo pienso en el PEN Internacional como en una grande Red, donde cada Centro tiene que considerar su deber – y su placer – la cooperación con otros Centros para la promoción de la literatura. Por ejemplo, el PEN Trieste ya ha editado dos InterPENbooks con nuestros Colegas de Eslovenia y Croacia, y está planeando editar otro con el PEN Colombia.

Considero otrosí un gran ejemplo de este tipo de cooperación las iniciativas conjuntas del Network Uralo-Altaico y del PEN Asia Central en Bishkek.

El hecho de que por dos años seguidos yo haya manejado un espacio libre como la pagina “PEN International on Facebook” les cuenta que estoy abierto a la discusión y que mucho me gustaría que todos lo Miembros del PEN participaran en ella.

En una palabra, si Ustedes deciden elegirme, yo pondré a disposición del PEN mi experiencia específica en asuntos de organización, así como una parte aún más importante de mi tiempo.

Les agradezco su tiempo y su atención.

From the Congress, Friday 14

Still a rainy day...

The session was opened by a speech of salute of the Delegate of Haiti, whose Centre is recovering from the earthquake and from the loss of its President George Anglade.

Two new centres were approved, Lebanon and North Koreans writers in exile, both unanimously.

A centre was proposed for dormancy.

The Pretoria Centre having asked to change its name into Afrikaans Centre, explaining the reasons, and the Board having agreed, the General Meeting approved.

A number of resolutions, mainly about the defence of freedom of expression, were approved by the General Meeting.

The procedure for the election of the members of the Search Committee resulted in Jean-Luc Despax (PEN France), Entela Kasi (PEN Albania), Jens Lohmann (Danish PEN), Elizabeth Nordgren (Finnish PEN) and Eugene Schoulgin (PEN Norway) being elected.

A discussion about “Engaging Young Voices in PEN” was moderated by Laura McVeigh, Executive Director, who called to the stand Harruna Attah (Ghana PEN), Nicholas Kawinga (Zambia PEN), Margie Orford (South African PEN) and. Dalmira Tilepbergenova (Central Asia PEN).

The General Meeting approved the Report on the Congress of Belgrade and approved the choice of Iceland as venue for the 2013 Congress. Einar Karason, President of Icelandic PEN, presented the project.

The Congress ended with a closing ceremony where all Officers and Executives of International PEN where on the stand together with all the people who assured the exit of the Congress itself, to whom a warm “Thank you all “ was dedicated.

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