The Philippine PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) will hold “Free the Word!”—a forum plus poetry and performance event involving local and foreign writers—at Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Main Gallery on July 4, 5-7 p.m.
Founded in 1921 in London, PEN is the international federation of writers upholding freedom of expression with centers all over the world.
PEN members through the years have included Nobel laureates Mario Vargas Llosa, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Francois Mauriac and Liu Xiabao.
Its main committees show PEN International’s chief concerns: Writers in Prison, Writers for Peace, Women Writers and Translation and Linguistic Rights.
The Philippine PEN was founded in 1957 by National Artist for Literature F. Sionil José.
“Free the Word!” is the PEN International’s program of literary forums and readings in celebration of freedom of expression. It is held worldwide and organized by the various PEN centers.
The Philippine edition of “Free the Word!” is in connection with the five-day PEN International’s Civil Society Programme Development Workshop, which opens today at De La Salle University in Manila.
Hosted by the Philippine PEN, the international workshop is participated in by representatives of several Asian PEN centers. It will run until July 6.
“Free the Word!” will have publisher Karina Bolasco, director of Ateneo de Manila University Press, moderating the forum on the state of freedom of the press and expression. Panelists include Romana Cacchioli of PEN International based in England; and writers from Uganda (Danson Kahyana) and Myanmar.
Next will be readings and performances by poets and other creative artists:
Gary Granada, Krip Yuson, John Iremil Teodoro, Vijae Alquisola, Louise Lopez, Roy Cagalingan, Aldrin Pentero, Genevieve Asenjo (who will read the PEN Women’s Manifesto in Kinaray-a), Carlos Piocos and Michael Coroza.
Foreign writers attending the PEN Asian workshop who may read their works on July 4 include: Yorn Young (Cambodia); La Seng and Myat Thu Soe (Myanmar); Mitra Bandhu Poudel (Nepal); Apoorvanand Jha (New Delhi, India); Gauranga Chandra Mohanta (Bangladesh); Sangamesh Menasinakai (South India); and Lai Ming Ho (Hong Kong).
PEN International staff from London who will conduct the workshop include Holly Strauss, Emma Wadsworth Jones and Mike Halmshaw.
Philippine delegates are: Pamela Castrillo (Davao, Southern Mindanao); Junley Lazaga (Baguio, Northern Luzon); Phil Harold Mercurio (Samar, Eastern Visayas); H. Francisco Peñones Jr. (Bicol, Southern Luzon); Ma. Carmen Aquino Sarmiento (Manila); and Santiago Villafania (Pangasinan, Western Luzon).
Supporting the PEN International’s Civil Society Programme Development Workshop in Asia and “Free the World!” are the CCP, DLSU Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center, San Miguel Beer and Freeway National Artist Collectors Series. —CONTRIBUTED
“Free the Word!” at 3/F CCP Main Gallery on July 2 is open to the public. Admission is free.