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The first ticketed events for the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival are now on sale. Highlights include a special night of readings by Salman Rushdie, Malcolm Gladwell, and many others; programs on WikiLeaks and the revolutions in the Middle East; and a conversation between Vladimir Sorokin and Keith Gessen.

At the Paper Cuts blog of The New York Times, Sam Tanenhaus writes that poetry—particularly lyric poetry—is uniquely suited to describing and documenting catastrophe; like catastrophe, it defies rational order, yet “it consoles, even as it alarms.”

“I suffer from heightism. I’m sure you’re familiar with that.” PEN is launching a series of literary challenges on its Facebook page. Post a short response for a chance to win a free Associate PEN Membership, books, tickets to PEN events, and other great prizes. 

A study on the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act shows that despite the considerable time, money, and resources devoted to the task, there is “no evidence that NCLB improved student achievement in reading.”

Deborah Eisenberg wins the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her book of collected short stories. Listen to Eisenberg reading Robert Walser in the latest PEN Podcast and also catch her at the opening night event of the PEN World Voices Festival on April 25 at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers.

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Congratulations to all the recipients of the 2011 PEN Literary Awards. You can read work by and about some of the honorees—including Aleksandar Hemon, Elif Batuman, and Siddhartha Mukherjee—in the pages of The New Yorker.

In the aftermath of the London riots, actor/comedian [and authorRussell Brand makes an impassioned plea in theGuardian to spare the “youth lost amongst the shards in the shadows cast by the new dawn.”

“If you don’t speak out … you don’t have any self-respect.” Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, released from prison in June and relatively social-media silent since, is back on Twitter, accusing authorities of illegally detaining and tormenting those with connections to him.

PEN Member and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine becomes the 18th U.S. poet laureate. Listen to him in conversation with Kimiko Hahn at the 2008 Brooklyn Book Festival.

At Slate, our own David Haglund tells us what he learned after watching every Coen brothers movie [and more]. He also ranks them.

Gregory Pardlo starts our new Poetry Relay series off with a reading from his work.

“If the original text is not well-written, you are doomed; feel free to despair.” Susan Bernofsky and Hala Salah Eldin Hussein offer 21 rules no translator should ever forget.

Mobiledia finds that teens and the Internet are saving minority languages from the brink of extinction.

“So we beat on, boats against the current  …” The Stylist runs an elegant list of the 100 best closing lines from books, on the heels of the 100 best openers.

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“It feels like China without the Communism.” Liao Yiwu reviewed his visit to Flushing during a conversation with Philip Gourevitch about the Chinese dissident’s journey from political prisoner to best-selling author.

“Bogus revolutions irritate me.” Jonathan Lethem and Geoff Dyer talk tradition, digression, and American vs. British novels in the latest issue of BOMB.

Zhou Qing, author of What Kind of God: A Survey of the Current Safety of China’s Foodspoke with us about the limits of art in public space, the fear of truth, and Chinese censorship by ISBN.

Why do Italians talk so fast? Translator Susan Bernofsky looks at “information density” across languages.

The latest from our Poetry Series features fresh work by Jillian Weise (The Colony and The Amputee’s Guide to Sex).

Guardian opens shop in the U.S.

“Movies you can stroll through.” Starting tomorrow, let Teju Cole, John Giorno, and others guide you on a walk along Museum Mile.

What, you’re not getting your MFA at Columbia?

Make use of your literary factoids tonight, and don’t forget to stop by the PEN booth [#93] at the Brooklyn Book Festivalon Sunday.

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As part of this year’s World Voices Festival, PEN teamed up with documentary poet, global labor activist, and 2010 Guggenheim Fellow Mark Nowak for a series of weekend poetry workshops with members of the Domestic Workers Union. The workshops will culminate during the festival in the group’s first public event on May 5 at the New School, which will feature a 10-minute documentary clip about the DWU workshops, readings by a number of the domestic workers participating in the sessions, and a public conversation with the audience.

(via PEN.org » Blog Archive Domestic Workers United Workshop - PEN.org)