Category Archives: Press Releases

RUSSIA: Russian cultural figures demand freedom for Pussy Riot band members



“On 20th of June Moscow’s Tagansky District Court extended the detention of Pussy Riot members. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samusevich have been held in custody since March this year. They are charged under article 213 (2) of the Criminal Code according to which they can face up to 7 years in prison.

We, signatories of this appeal, have a different evaluation of the moral and ethical aspects of the Pussy Riot members’ February rally in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour:

– We do not believe that the actions of Pussy Riot constitute a criminal offence. The girls did not kill anyone, did not rob anyone, did not use violence and did not destroy or steal anyone’s property. Russia is a secular government and as anti-clerical actions do not fall under the criminal code they cannot be reasons for prosecution;

– We think that the criminal charges against Pussy Riot compromise the Russian judiciary and undermine trust in these institutions as a whole. As the band members remain in custody, an atmosphere of intolerance grows in our society which in turn leads to its further disunity and radicalisation;

– We do not see any legal basis or practical reason for the further isolation of these young women who do not pose any danger to society. Furthermore, three of them are young mothers;

– We are convinced of the necessity to release Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samusevich from custody and drop charges or to at least downgrade their case from a criminal to administrative offence. ”


This story is from PEN International and can be read in it’s entire at link ,

The Copyright Review Committee publishes a Consultation Paper on copyright and innovation and calls for further submissions

The Copyright Review Committee has today published a wide-ranging Consultation Paper (PDF, 1.4MB) which examines the current Copyright legislative framework to identify any areas of the legislation that might be deemed to create barriers to innovation.

The fundamental aim of this Paper is to begin the process of sketching reforms to Irish copyright law to further innovation without denying protection to those who need copyright law to innovate.

The Copyright Review Committee was established on 9th May 2011 by Mr Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation with the following terms of reference:

  1. Examine the present national Copyright legislation and identify any areas that are perceived to create barriers to innovation.
  2. Identify solutions for removing these barriers and make recommendations as to how these solutions might be implemented through changes to national legislation.
  3. Examine the US style ‘fair use’ doctrine to see if it would be appropriate in an Irish/EU context.
  4. If it transpires that national copyright legislation requires to be amended but cannot be amended, (bearing in mind that Irish copyright legislation is bound by the European Communities Directives on Copyright and Related Rights and other international obligations) make recommendations for changes to the EU Directives that will eliminate the barriers to innovation and optimise the balance between protecting creativity and promoting and facilitating innovation.

More information on consultation , fair use and copyright reform submissions are available at,

Gernika at 75 years , a note from Euskal PEN

Guernica,1937 , by Pablo Picasso, copyright the Picasso Estate

26 April 2012 will be the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the town of Gernika, Spain, by the Nazi Legion-Condor aiding General Franco against the democratic Republic.

Basque PEN Club invites writers all around the world to send us poems to remember Gernika and ‘Other Gernikas’, as the Remembrance Day has been declared. Poems related to Gernika or other Gernikas around the world should be sent before 31 March, in the original language and a translation into Basque, English, German, French or Spanish; a short introduction of the author or the poem is welcomed. Poems will be published and read during the Remembrance Day Events. Send your poems to or Euskal PEN/Basque PEN

Agoitz Plaza, 1
E48015 Bilbao
Basque Country


International PEN , 

Euskal  PEN Clubba ,


2012 Cardiff International Poetry Competition



2012 Cardiff International Poetry Competition

Is your poetry worth £5,000?

Closing Date: Friday 2 March 2012

The closing date for the 2012 Cardiff International Poetry Competition is now only weeks away. The competition, administrated by Literature Wales, is accessible to all; it doesn’t matter if you are an established poet or just dabble with verse now and then. All entries to the competition will be judged anonymously, so this is a great opportunity to have your poetry judged on its own merits. The first prize-winner will walk way with a cheque for £5,000 for just one poem. Further prizes available are £500 for second place, £250 for third plus five runners-up will receive £50 each.

The hard tasking of judging the 2012 competition will be down to esteemed poets Sinéad Morrissey, Patrick McGuinness and filter judge Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch. For more information on the judges visit:

If you think you have what it takes to delight the judges and get your hands on the top prize of £5,000, then send us your poems now. Just make sure your poem is no longer than 50 lines long, is unpublished, in English and is not a translation of another author’s work. Send it, along with your entry form and payment, to Literature Wales.

The closing date is Friday 2 March 2012.

To download an entry form, visit:

To receive an entry form through the post, send a stamped, self addressed envelope to: Literature Wales, CIPC12 Entry Form, Mount Stuart House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 5FQ

The Cardiff International Poetry Competition is supported by Cardiff Council.

For further details contact Literature Wales on: 029 2047 2266 /



For more information contact:

Literature Wales,

Chief Executive: Lleucu Siencyn,

Mount Stuart House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FQ

029 2047 2266 /


Notes to Editors:

  • Literature Wales was formed in April 2011. The Chief Executive of Literature Wales is Lleucu Siencyn.  Yr Academi Gymreig / The Welsh Academy, the Society for Writers of Wales, and Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre are part of Literature Wales. Its many projects and activities include Wales Book of the Year, the National Poet of Wales, Writers on Tour funding scheme, writing courses at Tŷ Newydd, Translators’ House Wales, funding and advice for writers, the BayLit and Tŷ Newydd festivals, Young People’s Writing Squads, fieldworkers in the south Wales valleys and north Wales.
  • Literature Wales is one of six national arts companies in Wales, each representing different artform genres. Literature Wales is the Arts Council’s agent to develop and implement literature activity.
  • Literature Wales works with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government.
  • Yr Academi Gymreig was established in 1959, following discussions between poets Bobi Jones and Waldo Williams. The English-language branch, The Welsh Academy, was formed ten years later.
  • Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre was founded in 1990. National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke is the President of Tŷ Newydd.
  • Literature Wales is one of the resident organisations of the Wales Millennium Centre, where it runs the Glyn Jones Centre.


A Letter from John Ralston Saul

Dear friends, Dear PEN members,

A few days from now a large delegation – ten of us – will go to Mexico City . This will be a strong expression of solidarity for Mexican writers and journalists. It will also be unprecedented, with the entire Executive going – Hori Takeaki , Eric Lax and myself – as well as the Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee – Marian Botsford Fraser – and representatives of all four North American Centres, as well as the English and Japanese, all going to stand in public with our Mexican colleagues. Émile Martel, Russell Banks, Adrienne Clarkson, Gillian Slovo, Larry Siems and Adam Somers, as well as Renu Mandhane, head of the International Human Rights Program of the University of Toronto ’s Faculty of Law, will join the Executive.

We will be working with the three Mexican PEN Centres – Mexico , Guadalajara and San Miguel Allende. The culmination of this will be a public event organized by Jennifer Clement, President of PEN Mexico , and her members, involving the delegation and some 50 Mexican writers on Sunday, January 29.

There is also a public letter of solidarity to Mexican writers which I hope you will all sign. It is coming to you separately.

This is not a delegation of experts. It is a delegation of writers using our public voice. And what we do and say will be quickly transmitted to you in the hope that you will respond in your own countries.

This is all part of a sustained Mexican PEN campaign. Recently the Day of the Dead initiative initiated by Jens Lohman of Danish PEN and Tony Cohan of San Miguel PEN, spread our concerns about the threats faced by Mexican journalists throughout our membership. We hope that these new Mexican initiative will take on our campaign a stage further.

The PEN International Website

A lot of you are already sending material to the new website. This is what we need: Centres all over the world telling the rest of PEN about their work and their risks. Please contribute.


Finally, these last few weeks have been moving and historically important for Czech writers and for the belief in freedom of expression that all of us have. First, our former President, Jiří Gruša, one of the leading dissident writers of the post war period died. Then Václav Havel, about whom a great deal has rightly been written around the world. Then Ivan Jirous, whom Paul Wilson called the “leader of the Cultural Opposition”. Jirous was a poet, essayist and leader of the psychedelic rock band Plastic People of the Universe. The struggle to get him out of prison in part inspired the Chapter 77 movement. And finally, Josef Škvorecký has died, another great writer and leading dissident. Living in exile in Toronto he created 68 Publishers in 1971 and for two decades published banned Czech and Slovak writers. The books then made their way illegally back into Czechoslovakia . Of course, there are many more names, but when four courageous and inspired writers die almost together it should be marked as an important moment for all of us in PEN.

Best wishes,

John Ralston Saul

EDIT: The link to the PENProtesta petition against impunity in Mexico is available here

PEN International website, and introducing PEN women writers at the Diversity blog.

Quite recently PEN International upgraded their website , with a new structure and media centre,   all the usual PEN  links for those who wish read on issues of advocacy and freedom of speech are carried on the new site. The whole encompasses a variety of interests for our Irish PEN members, who will be interested in the work of our international affiliates across mutual areas of concern such as, The Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee, the Writers in Prisons Committee, the Women Writer’s Committee and Diversity. I am adding here the link to the PEN International landing page for our members and associates.


The  IPWWC , the International PEN Women Writer’s Committee.

The Women Writers’ Committee was set up in 1991 to promote certain issues faced by women writers around the world – challenges at family and national levels such as unequal education, unequal access to resources and actual prohibition from writing.

The committee reaches out to both aspiring and practising women writers through PEN Centres and other organisations and networks, and works with the Writers in Prison Committee on behalf of incarcerated or endangered women writers.

Representatives from the committee attend meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The committee has held conferences in countries such as Nepal, Kyrgyzstan and Senegal, and has published special newsletters. It uses Facebook to connect the work of women writers to the world. “

The Diversity Blog was launched on the 12/01/2012 and is encouraging women writers to contribute in creative areas ,like translation, poetry and literature. The information and contacts are carried at  this link.  More than ever social-media outlets like Facebook are contributing to new connections between women writers.  PEN International is facilitating these contacts across a variety of platforms which include Websites, Facebook and Twitter. There are currently two discussion groups for members and associates of PEN available on the Facebook platform, the PEN International discussion group (231 members) and the PEN International group of writers sharing opinions and texts.

Members can choose to contribute to these above-mentioned groups , or to link up with their international colleagues through sites like Diversity. Irish PEN has a Facebook account where queries regarding social-media can be sent by direct-messaging, alternatively contacts can be addressed to the Irish PEN  addresses, which I am linking  below here.


Useful Irish PEN Contacts

Irish PEN Phone Number087 966 0770

Irish PEN Email

Calling Irish Poets and PEN members, a note about The Festival International de la Poésie

Our festival started in 1985. This will be the 28th September in 2012. It is one of the five largest events in the world of poetry, and one of the best organised.

More than 100 poets from the 5 continents have participated every year since 1989.

The city of Trois Rivieres in on the St Lawrence seaway, half way between Montreal and Quebec. We provide travel for poets to and from Montreal airport.

There are 400 poems on walls in the city. We display 5000 in a park in the town centre during the festival.

The guest poets have only one thing to do – read their poems 2 or 3 times a day, no lectures. But they must already have at least 30 poems translated into French, as Quebec is 80% French-speaking, and our city is 99%.

One of our group will introduce the poet before the reading, read their poem in French, and then the poet will read it in his native language.

There will be about 350-400 readings of poems during the 10 day festival period,

28 September to 7 October.

More than 10000 people will attend 4-7 readings, out of the 40000 attendees.

We offer poets hospitality in a hotel, with a daily allowance for meals and another for readings.

The programme of the 27th festival is on our website, as well as an incomplete list of previous participants.

For 2012, invitations are only offered to members of a PEN CLUB, but not in future years.

We would like to host an Irish poet every year.          Information is at link :


14 April 2011: Anne Hartigan and Patrick Mason

Thursday 14 April 2011

Award winning poet and Playwright Anne Hartigan in conversation with Patrick Mason, Tony Award winning director at the Abbey Theatre.

Where: United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2

When: 8:00 – 9:30 pm

Fee: All events are €3 for members, non members welcome €5

Booking is essential!

Email: or Telephone: 087 9660770

March 11th: Insights into Non-fiction publising

Irish PEN presents: A Fact-Finding Mission:  Insights into the World of Non-Fiction publishing.

Was Dickens’s Thomas Gradgrind secretly the first non-fiction commissioning editor, when he exclaimed: ‘Now, what I want is, Facts…. stick to Facts, Sir!’? Or did he just have a healthy respect for the breadth and wondrous world of communicating factual information, recording lives and historical events, exploring and enthusing over hobbies, art, music or architecture?  Not to mention the ‘how to’ books on a range of topics from personal finance to making your will, guides to relationship survival or growing your own vegetables.   

Irish PEN is delighted to invite writers of all genres to attend this very informative and broad-reaching discussion on non-fiction publishing in Ireland.  Our panel on the evening will include: 

Ivan O’Brien, publisher and MD of The O’Brien Press;  Seán O’Keeffe, publishing director of Liberties Press, Joe Armstrong, non-fiction author and commissioning editor for international academic publisher Peter Lang and Gillian Hick,  a vet who has penned her memoirs, Vet on the Loose  and a forthcoming title Vet Among the Pigeons.

WHEN:         8.00pm.  Thursday, March 11th 2010

WHERE:       United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2.

COST:          €3 members, €5 non-members.


Tel:  087-9660770,

The Panel:

Ivan O’Brien is Managing Director of O’Brien Press, Ireland’s leading independent publisher of books for adults and children.  Born into the family firm, Ivan started his own publishing at the age of eight – and sold copies in the Hodges Figgis.  After an extended academic interlude, he began to work full-time at O’Brien Press in 1997, where he was held roles in production, sales and IT before becoming MD.

Seán O’Keeffe is the publishing director of Liberties Press and has been working in book publishing for 15 years.  He is also a published poet.  Seán co-founded Liberties in 2003 with his business partner Peter O’Connell. The press has quickly become one of Ireland’s leading non-fiction publishers, with more than 100 titles in print across a range of genres, including best-sellers by Garret FitzGerald, Richard Crowley and Michael D. Higgins. Liberties Press has an active foreign-rights programme and will be launching a fiction list in spring 2010.

Joe Armstrong’s book  Men’s Health – the Common Sense Approach was published by Gill & Macmillan in 1999 and translated into several languages. He also self-published Write Way to Stop Smoking in 2004. He co-authored another non-fiction book in 2009: From Special Care to Specialist Treatment – a History of Muckamore Abbey.  For the first title, he was commissioned by a publisher. For the second, he set up his own imprint. For the third, and most lucrative, he was paid by the hour. In his role at international academic publisher Peter Lang, Joe commissions books for publication and in 2009 commissioned 45 new titles in Ireland.

Gillian Hick was born in Dublin and has practised as a vet both in Dublin and in Wicklow for the past seven years, where she now has her own practice. She also works for the Irish Blue Cross. Her first humorous memoir was Vet on the Loose, and her second title Vet among the Pigeons will be published this year with The O’Brien Press.

Irish PEN acknowledges the ongoing support of The Arts Council and Dublin City Council’s Arts Office.