PEN on Twitter

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“The PEN America Center’s organizational focus is the effect of world events on the safety and freedom of expression of writers, so the topic of war naturally looms large in its cultural consciousness. As part of the recent PEN World Voices Festival, Polish journalist and author Wojciech Jagielski was interviewed by Joel Whitney, a founding editor of Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics.”

(via A Reporter’s Perspective on War at PEN World Voices - WNYC Culture)

The PEN America Center’s organizational focus is the effect of world events on the safety and freedom of expression of writers, so the topic of war naturally looms large in its cultural consciousness. As part of the recent PEN World Voices Festival, Polish journalist and author Wojciech Jagielski was interviewed by Joel Whitney, a founding editor of Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics.”

(via A Reporter’s Perspective on War at PEN World Voices - WNYC Culture)

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fictionthatmatters:

Rachel Riederer on the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Knowing that these are true stories takes the pleasure out of the horror-movie fear, but human rights documentaries offer a different set of rewards. It’s thrilling to see a plucky hero escape a fantastical monster, but it’s even more frightening to see the monsters that really do walk among us, and even more stirring when the plucky hero is real. I can think of no horror-movie premise to rival the one described by a female soldier in The Invisible War: repeatedly drugged and raped on a remote island base, she was not able to tell anyone—the only outside phone line was monitored by her attackers. Her account of escaping with her life and sanity intact is as gripping as anything Stephen King has dreamed up.

Image from Flickr via NimahelPhotoArt 
(via Rachel Riederer: Human Rights Horror Stories - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics by Rachel Riederer - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)

fictionthatmatters:

Rachel Riederer on the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Knowing that these are true stories takes the pleasure out of the horror-movie fear, but human rights documentaries offer a different set of rewards. It’s thrilling to see a plucky hero escape a fantastical monster, but it’s even more frightening to see the monsters that really do walk among us, and even more stirring when the plucky hero is real. I can think of no horror-movie premise to rival the one described by a female soldier in The Invisible War: repeatedly drugged and raped on a remote island base, she was not able to tell anyone—the only outside phone line was monitored by her attackers. Her account of escaping with her life and sanity intact is as gripping as anything Stephen King has dreamed up.

Image from Flickr via NimahelPhotoArt

(via Rachel Riederer: Human Rights Horror Stories - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics by Rachel Riederer - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)

guernicamag:

Nabokov (who wrote the banned book Lolita) once said: “A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a rereader.” 

Here at Guernica, celebrating Banned Books Week has meant many nostalgic trips to the book store. (And helped us to finally become, ahem, major readers.) Here’s a list of stuff we re-read this week that we know you’d also enjoy:

The Color Purple - First you read the book. Then you watch the movie. Then you go see the musical—touring since 2005.

The Master and MargaritaTo quote professor Woland, “Didn’t you know that manuscripts don’t burn?” In other words: you can’t keep a banned book down. 

Bridge to TerabithiaThis made us cry when we were 12. It still does. Make sure to keep some kleenex handy.

BelovedPacks the same emotional wallop it did in 9th grade. Like Beloved herself, not something one can put down and walk away from.

The Satanic VersesSalman Rushdie’s masterpiece is a literary work with street cred. In 1989 a fatwā was placed on Rushdie’s head, and it was not until 1998 that the Iranian government revoked the threat. Rushdie seemed to be living a fictional life—a fact that he recognized and promptly wrote down. His latest book, Joseph Anton: A Memoir, details that bizarre and terrifying period of his life. Fun fact: the title of the new memoir is the alias Rushdie resumed for police protection, a combination of the first and last name of his two favorite writers—Conrad and Chekhov.

Tropic of CancerLet’s just say we learned some slang. Let’s just say that.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven—Sherman Alexie proves that when poets write in long form, things get interesting. And beautiful. And wild. This collection of short stories reads like a seamless novel.

And who can resist Judy Blume’s Forever, which taught more than a few of us more than a little bit about sex? We sure can’t.




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Awesome! Former PEN intern and volunteer extraordinaire Humera Afridi just had a piece published in Guernica Mag. 

On the night of October 8th, I sat on the floor of Dergah Al-Farah, the Sufi mosque in Tribeca, contemplating the Divine name, Ya Jabbar, that translates from the Arabic as “Bonesetter,” or “Healer of Fractured Existence.” Ya Jabbar… Ya Jabbar… I muttered, riveted by the alchemical potency of the incantation. It felt apt. Seven years ago, on this day, a massive earthquake devastated great swathes of Northern Pakistan and Kashmir. Eighty thousand people died; whole villages toppled off mountain facades; dead buffaloes floated in the Jhelum River and the landscape, cracked and split into so many fissures, was transformed into a series of twisted, gaping smiles.

Sufi mystics believe we can actualize the Divine attributes, that the power to do so resides within each one of us. I reflected on the tragedy and marveled at how the disaster of 2005 had, indeed, for a while united Pakistanis in an unprecedented way. Unity, Faith and Discipline, the founding pillars of the nation that had rung hollow for decades, were dynamically revivified as the country contended with infrastructural damage and the emergency needs of 3.5 million displaced citizens before the imminent onset of winter. Mullahs, progressives, women, men and militants sublimated their differences and got to work rebuilding. In a feudal and tribal culture that places great value on the ideal of honor, it was the honorable thing to do. The country was a heap of broken bones but the bones were being realigned. In the shattering, a new potential had been born.

Read the full piece here

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image

We spoke on the phone not long after Veselka had accepted the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize awarded to a fiction debut. Her searing essay about the years she spent hitchhiking as a teen and the run-in she had with a possible serial killer had just come out in GQ. She’d completed a trilogy of short stories that explores how a voice changes over time—the first had been published in Tin House’s Portland-Brooklyn issue and the remaining two were forthcoming in Zzyzzyva and Swink. With so much on the horizon, Veselka was contemplating tossing her hat back in the agent-editor ring, willing to take on the potential pitfalls and possible gains of a relationship she’d shucked. Though she would say little about the new novel she is working on beyond the fact that it deals with a question that’s been occupying her thoughts, it was clear that, as with all that had come before, she was determined to follow her own instincts. To do it the hard way.

Read the Complete Interview Here

guernicamag:

(via The 3rd Annual Dzanc Books/Guernica International Literature Award - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)
The Dzanc Books/Guernica International Literature Award considers work of any genre on international themes that “broaden the landscape of North American literature outside of the borders of North America.” The winner will receive, in addition to publication in Guernica, a full scholarship to DISQUIET 2013, a two-week international cultural and writing program taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from June 30-July 12. Finalists and selected entrants will receive partial scholarships.
The DISQUIET program includes workshops in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as literary and cultural events including readings from North American and Portuguese writers. “The whole reason for the program,” says director Jeff Parker, “is to give people the opportunity to experience Lisbon with an intensity and an access and an insight that would be otherwise impossible.” This year’s guest writers include Guernica friend, guest fiction editor, and contributor Sam Lipsyte, and visiting instructors include Adam Levin, John Frey, Robert Olmstead, and others.
Applicants may submit a single prose piece of no more than thirty double-spaced pages or up to three poems. The entry fee is $15. Submissions can be uploaded with the ILP International Literature Award form at https://disquietinternational.submittable.com/submit.
North American writers of Luso descent—whether Portuguese, Brazilian, Angolan, Goan, or from anywhere else in the Lusophone world—are also encouraged to submit for the Luso-American Scholarship Contest. This contest, a collaboration between Dzanc Books and the Luso-American Development Foundation, provides four full scholarships. There is a $20 entry fee.
Visit http://disquietinternational.org/contest-scholarships/contestscholarships for complete details and guidelines, or contact disquietinternational@gmail.com with any questions.

guernicamag:

(via The 3rd Annual Dzanc Books/Guernica International Literature Award - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)

The Dzanc Books/Guernica International Literature Award considers work of any genre on international themes that “broaden the landscape of North American literature outside of the borders of North America.” The winner will receive, in addition to publication in Guernica, a full scholarship to DISQUIET 2013, a two-week international cultural and writing program taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from June 30-July 12. Finalists and selected entrants will receive partial scholarships.

The DISQUIET program includes workshops in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as literary and cultural events including readings from North American and Portuguese writers. “The whole reason for the program,” says director Jeff Parker, “is to give people the opportunity to experience Lisbon with an intensity and an access and an insight that would be otherwise impossible.” This year’s guest writers include Guernica friend, guest fiction editor, and contributor Sam Lipsyte, and visiting instructors include Adam Levin, John Frey, Robert Olmstead, and others.

Applicants may submit a single prose piece of no more than thirty double-spaced pages or up to three poems. The entry fee is $15. Submissions can be uploaded with the ILP International Literature Award form at https://disquietinternational.submittable.com/submit.

North American writers of Luso descent—whether Portuguese, Brazilian, Angolan, Goan, or from anywhere else in the Lusophone world—are also encouraged to submit for the Luso-American Scholarship Contest. This contest, a collaboration between Dzanc Books and the Luso-American Development Foundation, provides four full scholarships. There is a $20 entry fee.

Visit http://disquietinternational.org/contest-scholarships/contestscholarships for complete details and guidelines, or contact disquietinternational@gmail.com with any questions.

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Pitch Forward: Amitava Kumar interviews Teju Cole

The writer, art historian, and street photographer on the body vs. the intellect, the mythical pre-history of humanity, and how very serious a Twitter post can be.
"All creative work, I feel, and all meaningful contributions that somebody can make creatively, only comes from here. [Points to heart.] It comes from something very deep, something very profound in you, from having an attentive attitude to life. It comes from having a serious commitment to justice and to observation. The medium is irrelevant."

Pitch Forward: Amitava Kumar interviews Teju Cole

The writer, art historian, and street photographer on the body vs. the intellect, the mythical pre-history of humanity, and how very serious a Twitter post can be.

"All creative work, I feel, and all meaningful contributions that somebody can make creatively, only comes from here. [Points to heart.] It comes from something very deep, something very profound in you, from having an attentive attitude to life. It comes from having a serious commitment to justice and to observation. The medium is irrelevant."

(Source: guernicamag.com)

There Is No Real Life: Guernica Magazine interview with Aleksander Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon—Sasha, as he likes to be called—left his native Sarajevo for Chicago on a cultural exchange program in 1992, just as the siege began. He resolved to settle, mastering English while he canvassed for Greenpeace and watched his hometown burn on the news. Once a journalist in Bosnia, Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995 and within a decade received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur “genius grant” for works penned in his new language.
Unconcerned with the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction—“There’s no such difference in Bosnia,” he says—Hemon’s work investigates the many uses of narrative, from jokes and gossip to the way states create national identities and individuals struggle to maintain coherence. “In some way there is no real life,” he says. “It’s always the story of your life that you’re living.” Among the most deeply felt of these explorations, the essay “The Aquarium,” from his forthcoming nonfiction debut, The Book of My Lives, describes experiencing the death of his one-year-old daughter as his three-year-old acquires language and invents an imaginary brother. The book’s dedication reads, “For Isabel, forever breathing on my chest.”

There Is No Real Life: Guernica Magazine interview with Aleksander Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon—Sasha, as he likes to be called—left his native Sarajevo for Chicago on a cultural exchange program in 1992, just as the siege began. He resolved to settle, mastering English while he canvassed for Greenpeace and watched his hometown burn on the news. Once a journalist in Bosnia, Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995 and within a decade received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur “genius grant” for works penned in his new language.

Unconcerned with the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction—“There’s no such difference in Bosnia,” he says—Hemon’s work investigates the many uses of narrative, from jokes and gossip to the way states create national identities and individuals struggle to maintain coherence. “In some way there is no real life,” he says. “It’s always the story of your life that you’re living.” Among the most deeply felt of these explorations, the essay “The Aquarium,” from his forthcoming nonfiction debut, The Book of My Lives, describes experiencing the death of his one-year-old daughter as his three-year-old acquires language and invents an imaginary brother. The book’s dedication reads, “For Isabel, forever breathing on my chest.”