Wednesday, 21 October 2015


Come al solito, riferisco sul Congresso di Québec trascrivendo il Report in inglese che ho pubblicato giorno per giorno sulla pagina PEN International on Facebook.
Pur non essendo dettagliatissimo, fornisce una informazione di massima sulle attività del Congresso e in parte sugli attori.
La notizia più importante è che dopo 94 anni il Presidente del PEN International è una Presidente, Jennifer Clement.
A titolo di cronaca, il sottoscritto è stato rieletto nel Board per altri tre anni.

October 11

It’s a long trip to Québec, but in the evening I arrived to the Hotel. Luggage was not lost, the shuttle was there, a good trip, all in all.
There was a dinner with the Board, the PEN Int’l staff and the PEN Québec staff. A good night sleep will put everything in order.

October 12

An early start, we left the Hotel at 8.00 to go to Palace Morrin, the old debtors’ prison of Québec City and now a library. A very nice and sunny day, I would have bet on it…
Delegates and participant will enjoy a walk in the city while we would work (in a wonderful old library, to be honest).
After the Board meeting, we were invited to a “Verre de bienvenue” for everybody at the Maison de la Littérature (an ancient church  J). So many friends to meet …
Delegates and Participants will attend a performance “Murmurs and torrents from the Great Turtle” while we will have a dinner with the three candidates to the Presidency.
I will tell you tomorrow something about that.

October 13

Yesterday’s dinner was thought in order to allow the candidates to the Presidency to shift their place at the table so that they could speak to as many people possible.
This day was dedicated to the meetings of the Committees, WiPC, T&LRC, WfPC and WWC.
Apart of the news already shown in this page – elections of Chairpersons of WiPC and WWC, which have to be ratified by the General Assembly – I’m not in the position to report in detail about the woks of each Committee, because I had to be temporarily present in every one of them.
Also in this occasion the candidates to the Presidency were asked to participate to the meetings and were asked questions about the way they look at the issues the Committees deal with and how they would like to proceed in case of election.
Carles Torner, the Executive Director, was also explaining to the delegates during these meetings how the Secretariat would be organised by responsibilities after the successful moving to the new offices.
Before the next appointment we got a bit of time I personally employed to shoot as many photos as possible in a quick walk in the old City. It started raining exactly in the moment I joined the hotel…
At 19.00 we were transferred to the Musée de la civilisation where the formal Opening evening took place.
At 21.00 I decided to call it a day and left with some colleagues for a last drink before surrendering to the jet lag J.

October 14

Today the General Assembly will officially start.
Before it, we will meet in the Place d’Youville where the three Empty Chairs are dedicated to Raif Badawi, Amanuel Astrat and Juan Carlos Argenat Medina for a minute of silence.

October 14, 2nd part

Actually, we met in a quite windy day before the Empty Chair of Raif Badawi (his wife and children were present and said some words).
After breakfast in the Congress Centre (a good idea, delegates will gather in numbers and chat before starting works) we convened in the main hall. After a minute of silence in memoriam, we remembered our dear Lobsang Chotka and there was the introduction to the Empty Chair.
Some legal procedures were completed and we got a session of about 1 hour in which Centres had the possibility to mention their initiatives and suggestions. More than 20 Centres did.
The reports of the President and of the Secretary left more space to the report of the Treasurer: discussion followed.
The report of the Board was presented by Marketa Heikalova and its main subject was to call for ideas about the 2016 Congress after Puerto Rico had to renounce. There were many interventions.
Carles Torner presented the Executive Director’s report. Discussion followed.
After that, the four Chairs of the Committees took the floor and spoke about the Committees activity and programs.
During lunchtime the three candidates to the Presidency were at the disposal of the delegates for a Questions & Answers session.
A short discussion opened about the regulations and principles adopted by PEN International in the matter Corruption, Bribery and Fundraising ethics.
The session was ended by an interesting Panel about the Charlie Hebdo case, led by Marian Botsford-Fraser with the participation of delegates of  Emmanuel Pierrat (France), Andrew Solomon (USA East), Pervin Sieda (Bangladesh) and Ismaila Samba Traoré (proposed Centre Mali).
After the closure of the first day, there was a program about the Chinese literature.
In the evening there was a show in the Palais Montcalm whose theme was “Free to create” with the participation – among others – of Margareth Atwood. I did attend it only partially.
Tomorrow  it's elections time.

October 15

It’s becoming rather cold in Québec… this morning at 08.15 you could see by your breath that we were near to zero Celsius. The Empty Chair of today was Amanuel Astrat of Eritrea.
All our best wishes to our Friend Ly Djibril, President of the proposed PEN Mauritania, who fell ill and will not be able to be present for the presentation of PEN Mauritania.
The Québec Declaration on Literary Translation and Translators was approved unanimously. I will translate it in Italian and publish it somewhere.
The PEN International Principles on Authors’ Moral Rights and Copyright were also unanimously approved.
Some projects of Centres were brought to the attention of the Assembly: Ola Larsmo (Swedish PEN) presented the Dissident Blog, Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua PEN) presented Libro Foro, an initiative related mainly to children, Aline Davidoff (PEN Mexico) presented a video about PEN Protesta, Carme Arenas (PEN Català) presented DELETRIX, a graphic work by Fontcubierta.
Romana Cacchioli introduced a representative of OUTWRITE who spoke about LGBTQI issues.
Re the Congress 2016 there are a number of proposals the Board is entitled to examine and decide upon by a specific delegation by the Assembly, voted unanimously.
You have already read the news about the result of the elections. PEN international has got finally a woman for President, Jennifer Clement.  She said after the vote; ‘Thank you to all of you. Everyone is saying congratulations. But this is not a prize, it’s not an award. It’s an act of trust. I hope that I am worthy of your trust.’
I would like to express my gratitude to Vida Ognjenovic and Zeynep Oral for their active and important participation in this exceptional election.
I think also that we all should be grateful to John Ralston Saul for his outstanding activity during the last six years.
As for the Board, Regula Venske (German PEN) was elected and I was re-elected.
Presentazione al Congresso
The new Search Committee is composed by Zoe Rodriguez, Eugene Schoulgin, Jens Lohmann, Larry Siems and Alicia Quiñones. They will elect their Chairperson.
The Assembly ratified unanimously the elections of Salil Tripathi as Chair of the WiPC and of Elisabeth Nordgren as Chair of the WWC.
A presentation of the activities of Icorn and the PEN Emergency fund in the field of protection of writers at risk in cooperation with the WiPC followed.
The new Mali PEN Centre was presented by Koumanthio Zeinabou Dialle (PEN Guinea) and by its President Ismaila Samba Traoré. It was unanimously received.
Anton Arrufat – a Cuban writer – spoke about the possibility of a new Centre in Cuba.
Andrew Solomon (American PEN) spoke about censorship in China.
The delegates and  participants then moved by bus to the Théâtre La Bordée for a session of Free to speak led by Adrienne Clarkson (I decided to have a 25 minute walk…).
Being quite tired, I decide to have dinner on my own in a bistrot in the Old City and not to go to the Maison de la Littérature for the evening of multilingual readings (scheduled 21.00 – 23.55). I apologize to the colleagues.

October 16

Another chilly day: the Empty Chair of today was Juan Carlos Argeñal Medina of Honduras.
The Assembly started with a request of the Centre Langue d’Oc of permission to change its name into PEN Occitan, granted unanimously. The dormancy of Spanish PEN was voted with two abstentions.
PEN Mauritania was presented by Mohamed Sheriff and represented by Carles Torner in absentia. Accepted unanimously.
The Empty Chair was presented by Marian Botsford Fraser and Dina Meza.
Dalmira Tilepbergenova made the Report about the last Congress in Bishkek.
About Ethiopia and Eritrea, a statement was prepared and posted on Twitter, you may see it on this page:

#81PENCongress asks the intl. community to support Eritrean & Ethiopian people in their fight for #RealDemocracy against authoritarian govts

I cannot report in detail about the 26 resolutions that were approved afterwards, but this task took a substantial part of our time.
A panel about Mass surveillance was held with the participation of Dmitri Vitaliev, an expert in this field.
The Assembly ended with a lunch at the Restaurant Le Parlementaire in the House of Parliament, during which meetings of the Networks were hold. A Delegates Photo was made at the end – funny, a pic under a light rain, no umbrellas allowed…
In the afternoon we had a cruise on the St. Lawrence river and a little time for a walk before the Closing Party which took place at the Maison de la Littérature, where we had the occasion to thank PEN Québec, Emile Martel, the staff and the volunteers for this interesting Congress and to greet all the friends of PEN International.
Tomorrow I will leave for the Board retreat and on Sunday I will leave for Trieste.

Il nuovo Board a fine Congresso
P.S. During the retreat we learned that Ly Djibril, the President of proposed PEN Mauritania died in the hospital where he had been admitted. PEN International as a whole is very near to the Family and to the colleagues of PEN Mauritania.

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