Monday, 16 September 2013


Saturday 7, 2013
A long, long trip to Iceland. Late arrival with bad weather – at least for Italian standards in September. 
Some problem with the room reservation, luckily solved. Short informal meeting with the Board and the Chairs of Committees. First Icelandic dinner at the hotel  :o)
Sunday 8, 2013

Bad weather, but not so bad as yesterday. 
The venue of the Congress – the Harpa - is a fantastic, incredible black glass building one can’t forget. Busy from 10.00 to 15.30 with Board matters, literary walk in Reykjavik with readings of stories of monster and trolls. First recognition of the town centre, dinner at an Icelandic Restaurant.

Monday 9, 2013

Not so bad a weather – possibly only a normal late summer day, but thanks to the Icelandic gods it doesn’t rain. 
Work starts at 9.00 with the meeting of the 4 Standing Committees. Attended to the Writers for Peace Committee, of which the Trieste PEN is a member, while Lina Morselli as a Delegate attended that of Women Writers Committee, of which we are also a member (see pic).
I attended briefly myself the WWC meeting, but had to go back for the election of the new Chair of WfPC in substitution of Edvard Kovac (Slovene PEN). The new Chair is Tone Peršak (Slovene PEN): his election has to be ratified by the General Assembly. Lunch follows, then more work in the WfPC, preparing the Peace Committee Manifesto.
Before the Welcome Dinner a long stroll in the city. The dinner was at the Congress venue, with the presence of the President of the Icelandic PEN Sjón and the mayor of Reykjavik (a very interesting, funny  guy).

Tuesday 10, 2013

When I woke up (6.00…) the sky was more or less blue with some clouds. In the moment we went to the venue (10 minutes walk) it was windy and cloudy. During the day it rained cats and dogs. The General Assembly started with the customary retard of half an hour at 9.30 J  with a welcome of the President, the In Memoriam and the usual official procedures.
Then we went trough an hour of free interventions of the Centres about the most different topics. After the coffee break, we heard the official Reports of the President, the International Secretary and the Treasurer with many interventions of Delegates. Before lunch the President announced the new PEN Centres that will be proposed at a later stage, Myanmar and Dehli.
The session went on with the Reports of the Board (which was read part in French by Sylvestre Clancier and part in Spanish by me), the Executive Director and of all the Chairs of the Standing Committees. There was also a Report of Icorn and of the Emergency Fund. All these were approved after discussion.
In general terms there are more Centres (over 70) and Delegates present that I would have expected, many of them not even comprised in the list of participants we were given in the Delegate’s package.
After lunch there were meetings of the many Networks of PEN. Personally I attended the Fundación Iberoamericana meeting, and afterwards attended the joint meeting of the Balkan Network and of the new Euro-Mediterranean Network.
This evening Lina and me will experiment a new restaurant, I do not know yet which one. The choice was Vid Tjornina, excellent.

Wednesday 11, 2013

Weather as usual. 
The most important issue of this morning was the presentation and elections of the International Secretary, the International Treasurer and three Members at Large of the Board.
Takeaki Hori (PEN Japan) was re-elected with 64 votes and 7 abstentions, Jarkko Tontti (PEN Finland) was elected Treasurer with 68 votes and 3 abstentions.
Of the four candidates to the Board, Anders Heger (PEN Norway) was elected with 59 votes and Gil-won Lee (PEN Korea) was re-elected with 44 votes. The other two candidates, Philo Ikonya (PEN Kenya) and Mohamed Sheriff (PEN Sierra Leone) got 39 votes each, so the elections has to be repeated tomorrow.
Many resolution were approved, one of them about freedom of expression in Russia, which was delivered by the Delegates to the Russian Ambassador in Iceland (see pic).
In the afternoon the winners of the New Voices Award – Masande Ntshanga of South Africa, José Pablo Salas of México and Claire Battershill of Canada – were presented and some interesting speeches of writers followed in the frame of the Free the word! Festival.
The Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta (PEN Chile) did attend the Congress as well as the Free the word! Festival. His intervention was in the same evening as of that of James Fenton, an English poet.
We were received at the Nordic Hall by the Minister of Culture.
At 19.00 I called it a day  :o)

Thursday 12, 2013

Weather as always, say a bit better in the course of the day.
Two new Centres were presented to the General Assembly. The proposed Dehli Centre was presented by Philip Slayton of PEN Canada, and represented by Kiran Desai. It was accepted unanimously.
The proposed Centre Myanmar was presented by Anders Heger of PEN Norway and represented by Nay Phone Latt. Also this Centre was approved unanimously.
The PEN Cameroon was declared dormant, as well as the PEN Israel, in the hope to have a new solution at hand before the prescribed year of dormancy will elapse.
The PEN Greece was declared closed: there are hopes that a new group of writers can take over in a short time.
Other resolution already approved by the T&LRC were adopted.
A new election between Philo Ikonya and Mohamed Sheriff gave a result of 32 to 32, and another election had to be foreseen immediately.
In the meanwhile some communications were made to the Assembly.
The new election proclaimed Mohamed Sheriff as the new Member at Large of the Board (33 vs. 32).  A big hug with thanks to Philo for her three years on the Board and a hearty welcome to Mohamed.
The last version of the Bled Manifesto of the WfPC was adopted unanimously.
Émile Martel (PEN Québec) presented shortly the project of a 2015 Congress in Québec.
Dalmira Tilepbergenova (Central Asia PEN) and the Minister of Culture of Kirgizstan presented the project of the 2014 Congress in Bishkek, which was accepted by the Assembly.
In the afternoon there were at the Nordic House some readings and Masande Ntshanga of South Africa was awarded the Price of New Voices Award.
Afterwards we were invited to the City Hall to a reception given by the Mayor of Reykjavik.

Friday 13 and Saturday 14

A great improvement in weather – practically no clouds, but this does not mean that you will not get some rain. On a tee-shirt I saw in Reykjavik it was written “If you don’t like our weather, just wait 5 minutes... “
After the Presse Conference the Board and the Chairs of the Committees (see pic) went to a retreat in Viðey, an island 15 minutes away from Reykjavik, no way to get out of it (as we realized late in the evening when we did not see the boat that should have taken us at the hotel. It finally arrived, a misunderstanding in the timetables).
Another Board meeting took place on Saturday morning at the Harpa.

A bit of shopping in the afternoon and our plane waited for us in Keflavik at 01.00 of Sunday 15.

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