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82nd Congress: Ourense


The 82nd PEN International Congress in Ourense 


Building Literary Bridges

181 participants

77 PEN centres (including 1 new)

64 countries

50 % women

50 % men

20 resolutions adopted

Laura García Lorca (niece of Federico García Lorca) as a honored guest

The 82nd PEN International Congress in Ourense, Spain took place from the 26th September – 2nd October 2016 with a focus on the situation for freedom of expression in Galicia, creating the cultural bridges (with focus on Ibero-America), and the representation and voices off writers who are persecuted for their sexual orientation (Outwrite project)

Special guests included Claudia Pinedo, Almudena Grandes, Alex Susanna, Dina Salustio Cristobal Pena , Can Dundar and Francisca Aurije.

During the 82nd PEN International Congress the following activities took place:

Charter Change

PEN’s Charter was written in the mid-20th Century and its language reflects that time.  PEN nevertheless has been responding to the needs of the new century, with many Centres engaging in innovative projects focussing on women and girls, high level events on religion and freedom of expression, while PEN’s Outwrite! Website now gives a space for writers to explore the relationship between sexual orientation and freedom of expression.  At this meeting our assembly of delegates had a productive and wide ranging debate that very clearly indicated that not only is gender equality an issue that many Centres are already working on, but delegates have been actively sharing experiences and strategizing about how we can further integrate this into our work and we as a global association of writers should be thinking about how we integrate across PEN’s work.  Delegates also highlighted the need for PEN to continue its work in addressing the relationship between freedom of expression and sexual orientation, gender and religious identity. New International Secretary elected

The General Assembly of PEN have elected Kätlin Kaldmaa, the president of Estonian PEN as the new Secretary of PEN International. Kätlin Kaldmaa is an Estonian poet, writer, translator and literary critic. She has published four collections of poetry, children’s books, an autobiographical work of nonfiction, and a novel. She has translated over 40 books into Estonian by authors such as Jeanette Winterson, Michael Ondaatje, Ali Smith, Gabriel García Márquez. Her own poems have been translated into Arabic, English, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Korean, Latin, Japanese, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish and Turkish. Centre News 1. Togo PEN was elected as a member Centre of PEN International 2. The following Centres were declared dormant: African Writers Abroad Centre, Afar Speaking Centre, Iraq Centre, Roma Centre, Somali Speaking Centre, Tunisia Centre and Writers in Exile London branch.

The ‘Libertas’ (‘Freedom’) project / The exhibition ‘Proyecto Libertas’

The project, which is both political and aesthetic, represents how freedom of speech is the pinnacle of human rights and attempts to capture and promote the voices of some of the people on the case last, by asking seven great Galician authors to create literary works for display here. Activities included the exhibition ‘Proyecto Libertas’ in which 7 authors (including: Lydia Cacho & Liu Xiaobo) were featured. It is still touring and is a finalist a European prize. All of you can access this project from webpage; it’s in many languages. It toured Galicia and ended in Portugal were it was very successful.

Discussion Panels

‘Literature as a tool for empowerment’ Chair: Beatrice, Vice President of Uganda Panellists:Saw Wei and Myo Myint Nyein from PEN Myanmar, Iman Humaydan from PEN Lebannon, Ismaila Samba Traore from PEN Mali, Selina Nuwulu [NWOLU] – Poet laureate for London

Gender Based Violence as a form of Censorship Chair: Grace (PEN Zimbabwe), Panellists: Salil Tripathi (Chair of WiPC), Judy Woolf (Gender Consultant), Dina Meza (PEN Honduras), Margie Orford (Board, PEN South Africa)

Election Results 1. Kätlin Kaldmaa (Estonia PEN) was elected as the PEN International Secretary for a three-year term. 2. Thida (Myanmar PEN) was elected and Anders Heger (Norway PEN) and Mohamed Sheriff (Sierra Leone PEN) were re-elected to the PEN International Board, each for a three-year term. Gilwon Lee (Korea PEN) came to the end of his time on the Board of PEN International. 3. Marjan Strojan (Slovenia PEN) was elected Chair of the PEN International Writers for Peace Committee for a three-year term. 4. Takeaki Hori (Japan PEN) and Franca Tiberto were elected as Vice Presidents of PEN International.