Talib Kweli, Junot Diaz, Wally Lamb and more: Prison Writing Benefit, November 1

On Monday, November 1, at 7 pm, in New York City, Talib Kweli (pictured right), Junot Díaz, Lisa Dierbeck, Wahida Clark, Barbara Parsons, Sean Dalpiaz, Wally Lamb, and more will gather for a benefit reading and reception to support the PEN Prison Writing Program—which, since 1971, has sponsored an annual writing contest, published a free handbook about writing for prisoners, provided one-on-one mentoring to inmates whose writing shows merit or promise, conducted workshops for former inmates, and sought to get inmates’ work to the public through literary publications and readings.

(We have frequently published work by the finalists and winners of the contest in PEN America; see, for example, Chris Everley’s excellent “Hook Island Traveler,” published in PEN America 9: Checkpoints.)

A reception will follow the reading of fiction, poetry, and memoir by men and women who have participated in the PEN Prison Writing Program. We hope you’ll join us. Full details are below.

Breakout: Voices from Inside

When: Monday, November 1, 7 p.m.
Where: Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St., New York City
Tickets: Collaborator: $75 (limited quantity); Friend: $50. Please be advised that there is a 2 item order minimum. Purchase tickets at lepoissonrouge.com.

Collaborator ticket covers the expenses of one-on-one mentoring services between a PEN Member and an incarcerated man or woman for one year. This premier ticket includes the best views and a reception following the program.

Friend ticket covers the postage and printing costs to provide eight incarcerated men and women with a free copy of PEN’s Handbook for Writers in Prison. This ticket includes a reception following the program.


Tomorrow night: Censorhip by Bullet in Mexico

Tomorrow night, American and Mexican writers and journalists—including Paul Auster, Calvin Baker, Don DeLillo, Laura Esquivel, and Francine Prose—will gather at Cooper Union to call attention to and discuss “censorship by bullet” in Mexico—the silencing of reporters investigating violence and corruption connected with the drug trade. At least eight journalists have been murdered in Mexico in 2010 alone; many more have been kidnapped, threatened, or disappeared.

Also reading tomorrow evening are Jose Zamora, Víctor Manuel Mendiola, and Luis Miguel Aguilar. After the readings, Carmen Aristegui of CNN en Español, Rocio Gallegos of El Diario de Juárez, and José Luis Martínez of Milenio Diario will talk about the situation in their country; the conversation will be moderated by Julia Preston of The New York Times.

State of Emergency: Censorship by Bullet in Mexico

Tueday, October 19, 7 p.m.

The Great Hall Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, NYC

Tickets: $15/$10 for PEN Members and students with valid ID. Visit www.smarttix.com or call (212) 868-4444. Tickets also available at the door. Seating is by general admission, on a first-come, first-served basis.


Liu Xiaobo receives Nobel Peace Prize

Read the seven sentences that landed him in prison.

Watch Edward Albee, Don DeLillo, E.L. Doctorow, and others rally for Liu Xiaobo last New Year's Eve, reading those sentences, along with some of the poems he wrote while in a "reeducation camp."

Listen to Paul Auster read those poems.

Write to the Chinese government to demand his release.

Learn more here.


The Nobel and other news

This morning, Mario Vargas Llosa, former president of PEN International, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can listen to his conversation with Salman Rushdie and Umberto Eco, which took place at PEN World Voices 2008, here.

Tomorrow, the Nobel committee will announce the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. PEN is urging the committee to confer the award on Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned writer who would be the first citizen of China to receive the award. You can read all about PEN's campaign on his behalf here.

Next Wednesday, PEN will holds its annual awards ceremony. Anne Carson, Susan Choi, Don DeLillo, Paul Harding, Theresa Rebeck, and many others will be on hand to receive their awards, and the event is free, though seating is limited. If you would like to attend, RSVP to awards@pen.org.

The following Tuesday, October 19, PEN will presentState of Emergency: Censorship by Bullet in Mexico, an event seeking to call attention to and discuss the silencing of Mexican journalists investigating drug violence in their country. Participants include Paul Auster, Don DeLillo, Laura Esquivel, José Luis Martínez, Víctor Manuel Mendiola, Francine Prose, and Carmen Aristegui.