International P.E.N. is the foremost international
organization of writers. It was launched in London in 1921 as a private
peace-through-literature initiative, in a way anticipating UNESCO's
universal vocation. A British novelist, Mrs. C.A. Dawson Scott, founded
the first P.E.N Club in London. John Galsworthy became International
P.E.N's first President.
The acronym P.E.N. refers to poets, essayists and
novelists, but the organization embraces non-fiction authors, historians,
lawyers, editors, translators and others engaged in the dissemination
of all kinds of literature. The acronym also stands for that writing
instrument, potentially more powerful than the sword (Cervantes/Richelieu).
At the end of the First World War, intellectuals
and writers were convinced that the “war to end all wars”
had been a colossal calamity, and a thoroughly avoidable conflagration.
Henceforth it should be a high priority of writers to endeavor to
build bridges among nations and peoples, in order to help prevent
future wars through better understanding of our common values and
interests, through open dialogue over our differences and through
sincere efforts to settle potential sources of conflict. Indeed, if
we know each other’s literature, we would be less afraid of
our neighbors, because we would recognize our very own yearnings and
feelings in their novels and poetry. Thus, we should make words --
instead of war.
Remember the commonalities between the German Erich
Maria Remarque in his touching novel “All quiet in the Western
Front” and the poetic forebodings of the British soldier Wilfred
Owen in his
Anthem for Doomed Youth (1917)
What passing bells for those who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in the eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
The First World War, in which some 9 million Europeans lost their
lives, would yet be followed by the Second World War, even more frightful
than the first, claiming some 50 million lives. How many artists lost
their lives in those wars, how many were silenced by the traumata?
The objectives of P.E.N. are: a) To promote intellectual co-operation
and understanding among writers; b) To create a world community of
writers that would emphasize the central role of literature in the
development of world culture; and, c) To defend literature against
the many threats to its survival which the modern world poses.
As of January 2009, P.E.N. encompasses 148 Centres in 104 countries
on six continents - with a total membership of more than 10,000.
International PEN has many sub-committees, including a Writers for
Peace Committee (Chair: Edvard Kovac), a Women Writers Committee
(Chair: Judith Buckrich) and a Writers in Prison Committee (Chair:
Karin Clark). It holds yearly Congresses in cities throughout the
world. In November 2003 the 69th Congress took place in Mexico City,
under the Presidency of Homero Aridjis (Mexico). In September 2004
the 70th Congress took place in Tromsö, Norway, under the newly
elected International PEN President Dr. Jiri Grusa (Czech Republic),
the 71st Congress took place in Bled, Slovenia, in June 2005, the
72nd Congress in Berlin, Germany, in May 2006. The 73rd Congress
was held 4-11 July 2007 in Dakar, Senegal, where the World Education
Forum took place in 2000. The 74th Congress was held in Bogota
Colombia in September 2008. The 75th Congress was held
in Linz, Austria, in October 2009. The Canadian John Ralston Saul
was elected president for the coming 3 years.
At the Berlin Congress from 22 to 28 May, Gunther Grass, the Nobel
laureate for literature, delivered a most thought-provoking opening
speech, making the link between writers and peace, from Aristophanes
during the Peloponnesian war to Andreas Gryphius during the Thirty
Years War, to Harold Pinter during the Iraq and other on-going armed
conflicts of today.
At the Dakar Congress Eugene Schoulgin was elected new Secretary-General
PEN International. Eric Lax was elected Treasurer. The four new members
of the executive committee are Kristin T, Schnider of the Deutschweizer
Zentrum, Haroon Siddiqui of PEN Canada, Mike Butscher of PEN Sierra
Leone, and Hori Takeaki of PEN Japan.
There are three P.E.N. Centres in Switzerland, one for the German-speaking,
one for the French-speaking, and one for the Italian-speaking writers.
P.E.N. Suisse romande entertains close relations with the other
two Swiss Centres, the Deutschschweizer P.E.N. Zentrum and the Centro
P.E.N. della Svizzera italiana e retoromancia. In 2005 the three
P.E.N. Centres in Switzerland signed an agreement so as to coordinate
nationwide activities, such as participation in the Geneva book
fair and in conferences on behalf of writers in prison. The Presidency
of the new coordinating committee rotates. First president
was Kristin Schnider of the Swiss-German PEN, current president is
Alfred de Zayas/Mousse Boulanger of the Suisse romand Centre. Next
president will be Franca Tiberto of the Swiss-Italian Centre.
P.E.N. Centre Suisse romande was founded in 1949 by an essayist
and critic from Neuchâtel, Jacques-Edouard Chable,
|Neuchâtelois d'origine, Jacques-Edouard Chable naît
le 7 mai 1903. Longtemps journaliste à La Suisse
libérale, il devient également directeur du Service
de presse suisse.
| Jacques-Edouard Chable aborde l'écriture dans des genres
comme le roman policier ou des récits de voyages. Il vit
tout d'abord à Pully puis décède à Aigle
|SOURCES: A. Nicollier et H.-C. Dahlem, Dictionnaire
des écrivains suisses d'expression française,
vol. 1 p. 167-169. [bs/2004/04/26]
At the Lundi des Mots on 29 March 2010 in Neuchatel, our Vice-President
Herman presented a fine lecture on the history of PEN
Centre Suisse romand.
The Club welcomes all French-speaking writers residing
in Switzerland, most members coming from Geneva, Nyon, Lausanne,
Vevey, Montreux, Aigle, Leysin, Martigny, Sion, Sierre, Fribourg,
Morat, Neuchâtel, La Chaux de Fonds, Delemont, Yverdon, but, of course,
some reside in the frontier regions of Gex, Ferney-Voltaire and even
Thonon-les-Bains. On 11 March 2006, the General Assembly of our Centre
elected me as its new President for a term of three years, thus following
in the distinguished footsteps of the admirable Geneva poet Vahe
Godel, the novelist and philosopher Fawzia Assaad, the poet and editor
Alexis Koutchoumow, the television commentator Jean-Pierre Moulin
and the great Denis de Rougemont.
Our Centre entertains synergies with many other organizations
which promote the right to freedom of opinion and expression,
freedom of research, access to information including internet. We
are active in the Club de la Presse in Geneva, the Geneva Writers
Group, the Societé des Ecrivains de Genève and the
Société Vaudoise des Ecrivains. We have organized panels at the
United Nations together with the Union Internationale des Editeurs.
Our Rapporteur for human rights is our former President, Fawzia
Assaad, a well known face at the Palais des Nations, who for years
spoke on behalf of P.E.N. at the Commission on Human Rights and
now represents us at the Human Rights Council. Our Centre regularly
conducts poetry readings and other literary events together with
the United Nations Society of Writers and its literary journal “Ex
In September 2007 our Centre published the first issue of a new
literary journal "Les Pages Littéraires". A second
volume appeared in March 2009.
Charter as amended at the 69th Congress in Mexico City, November
Charte de Lugano P.E.N. INTERNATIONAL
, Lugano, Suisse, mai 1987
Lugano Conference, October 2002
Officers of Centre Suisse Romande
President: Alfred de Zayas
Treasurer: Jacques Herman
Maria Zaki, Clara Francheschetti
Rapporteur for Human Rights Fawzia Assaad
At the 2009 General Assembly held on 4 April 2009 in Geneva elections
were held. After three happy years as President, during which we
launched the new "Pages littéraires" and
created the literary award Prix Denis de Rougemont, I decided not
to extend my mandate; however, I was retained in the executive
committe as treasurer -- no one ever wants this function. Mousse
Boulanger, a great author and poet, was elected President. At the
2010 General Assembly held on 28 April in Lausanne, a new President
was elected, Claude Krul Attinger. At the 2013 General Assembly
held on 16 March in Lausanne, I was again elected President to
succeed Claude Krul.
I have the great satisfaction of having followed as president
the outstanding Swiss poet Vahe Godel, the excellent novelist
Fawzia Assaad,the inspired author and editor Alexis
Koutchoumow and the brilliant translator Claude Krul.
28 April 2010 -- opening of the 24th Salon du Livre in Geneva.
We have two P.E.N. stands -- one for P.E.N. international and one
for our Swiss-French Centre. I exhibited the new issue of Esoteric,
the literary journal of the University of British Columbia, which
published my poem Skiing in
honour of the Whistler Olympics.
A bunch of happy authors at the Geneva bookfair: from left to
right: Glorice Weinsein,
Mme Koumanthio Zeinab Diallo, Zeki Ergas, Claude Krul, AdeZ, Jacques
Herman, Fanny Mouchet.
sur le conflit en Irak/mars 2003
(Adopted 31 March 2003)
samedi 11 juin 2005 l'organisation Millennium
Solidarité -- associée avec l'action mondiale
contre la pauvreté a tenu une manifestation dans le cadre
du premier "white band day". Etudiants de l'Institut Universitaire
de Hautes Etudes Internationales, Université de Genève,
Geneva School of Diplomacy, ainsi que plusieurs membres du PEN International
Centre Suisse romande ont fait le parcours depuis le jardin anglais,
Quai Wilson jusqu'à la Place des Nations, entre autres Alexis
Koutchoumow, Zeki Ergas, Roger Chanez -- Sur la photo
dans les journaux de Geneve moi même accompagné de
Fawzia Assaad, devant le Palais des Nations, siège des Nations
Unies à Genève. White
Band Day "make poverty history" was celebrated worldwide
on Saturday 2 July 2005. 200.000 marched in Edinburgh during the
G-8 meeting. Geneva was first! White Band events are being held
worldwide in support of the Millenium Goals in preparation of the
millenium plus 5 summit at the United Nations in September 2005.
PEN entertains synergies with the Société génévoise des Ecrivains, with the United Nations Society of Writers, with the Geneva Writers Group, etc.
7 October 2010
FORMER PRESIDENT OF PEN INTERNATIONAL
WINS 2010 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE.
Mario Vargas Llosa was named as this year’s
Nobel literature laureate at a ceremony today in Sweden. Vargas
Llosa has been an active member of PEN for many years and served
as the organisation’s International President from 1976-79.
‘Mario Vargas Llosa has consistently
demonstrated his commitment to literature and the cause of free
expression, both through his writing and his political work,’ comments
incumbent PEN International President John Ralston Saul. ‘He
has been one of the determining leaders of PEN and I am delighted,
as current PEN President and a friend, that he has been honoured
with this award.’
Vargas Llosa has previously said that ‘In
times of division between countries, PEN is one of the rare institutions
to keep a bridge constantly open.’
Born in 1936 in Peru, Vargas Llosa is the author
of nearly 30 works of fiction, non-fiction and drama, and several
of his novels have been adapted into films. He is the first
Latin American writer to win the Nobel Literature Prize since
Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982.
The board, members and staff of PEN International
congratulate Mario Vargas Llosa on this fitting acknowledgement
of his lifetime contribution to literature.
PEN International celebrates literature
and promotes freedom of expression. Founded in 1921, its global
community of writers now spans more than 100 countries. PEN
programmes, campaigns, events and publications connect writers
and readers wherever they are in the world.
Hoang Nguyen's letter of 18 November
2010 in the Tribune de Genève:
Ans pour la Liberté d’Expression
En 2010, le Comité des écrivains en prison du PEN
International célèbre ses 50 ans d’activités
pour défendre la liberté d'expression avec la campagne ‘’Parce
que les écrivains disent ce qu'ils pensent’’.
Ses membres organisent des manifestations, expositions et campagnes
pour marquer cet événement. Et le 15 novembre 2010,
la traditionnelle Journée mondiale pour l’Ecrivain
en prison se déroulera sous le signe de solidarité envers
tous les écrivains et journalistes persécutés.
Ils ont été agressés, torturés, emprisonnés,
déportés ou même assassinés ou contraints à l’exil à cause
de leurs écrits ou leurs opinions. Le Comité a recensé plusieurs
centaines de cas d’attaques sur les écrivains et journalistes
pendant les 12 derniers mois. Plus de 200 d’entre eux croupissent
dans les geôles. Quarante et un écrivains et journalistes
ont été tués, assassinés ou portés
disparus. Cette année, PEN International porte son regard
sur 5 situations représentatives de la répression
sans frontières: Hossein Derakhshan
en Iran, Robert Mintya en Cameroun, José Bladimir Antuna
García en Mexique (assassiné en November 2009); Tal
Al-Mallouhi en Syrie et Dilmurod Saidov
En septembre dernier, le Congrès du PEN International à Tokyo,
au Japon, avait condamné la répression et les menaces à l’encontre
des écrivains, journalistes et défenseurs des droits
humains en Chine, au Tibet, en Xinjiang, en Mongolie intérieure,
au Cuba, en Iran, au Mexique, en Russie, en Tunisie, au Sri Lanka,
au Népal, en Turquie, au Venezuela, en Erythrée,
en Honduras, en Afrique du Sud et au Viet Nam. Ce dernier Etat
est, en fait, le plus répressif de tous les membres indignes
de la Francophonie envers la liberté d’expression
et de la presse. Au Viet Nam, plusieurs écrivains, journalistes,
blogueurs, avocats et défenseurs des droits humains ont été condamnés à de
lourdes peines de prison (2 à 16 ans). La plupart de ces
prisonniers sont en très mauvaise santé.
Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt, Membre du Comité des écrivains
en prison du Centre PEN Suisse Romand et du Centre des écrivains
vietnamiens en exil (CEVEX).
See article in DIVA
International, October 2006.
from Pen Club events (for more photos click
Pinar Senek, Mousse Boulanger, Susanne Scholl, Alfred
de Zayas at our Writers in Prison conference held at
the Club de la Presse on 13 November 2009.
|PEN Meeting at Barcelona
Forum (May 2004)
de Zayas, Secretary general of the Pen Suisse Romande with Ambassador
Dr. phil. Jiri Grusa, President of the International Pen Club
littéraire Geneva (30 April 2004)
Former President of the PEN Suisse romande, Jean Pierre Moulin and
PEN membre Etienne Barillier during the Cafe litteraire of 30 April
2004 discussing Moulin's new book on "La Chanson"
Writers in Prison Day 2010. With M. Deo Namujimbo, a Congolese
journalist for Reporters
sans frontiers, the agence de presse Syfia Grands Lacs and InfoSud
PEN General Assembly
The late Sir Peter Ustinov addressing the General Assembly of PEN
Centre Suisse Romande, Geneva, 31 March 2003
Left to right: Vahe Godel, Roger Prevel, Alexis
Koutchoumow, Roger Chanez and Hoang Nguyen at a poetry afternoon
at Alfred's (December 2002)
PEN General Assembly
Prof. Harro von Senger giving the keynote address to the General
Assembly of the PEN Centre Suisse Romande, March 2004
PEN Stand at the Salon du Livre,
Left to right: Hoang Nguyen, Fawzia Assaad, Alexis Koutchoumow, Alfred
de Zayas at the Stand (April 2002)
Ex Tempore Evening
Martin Andrysek reads Czech poetry at an Ex Tempore evening (February
PEN Stand at the Salon du Livre,
Left to right: PEN Centre President Vahe Godel, former Secretary-General
Juliette Monin Hornung, editor, former President Jean Pierre Moulin.
(30 April 2004)
Pen Stand Salon
2004, Geneva 2004
Fawzia Assaad chats with visitors about her new novel Ahlam
et les Ebouers du Caire
Stand of the Société génévoise des Ecrivains at the Geneva Book Fair, May 2008
Fanny Mouchet, Secrétaire-Générale
of the Société genevoise des Ecrivains and member
of the Committee of P.E:N. Swiss romande at the bookfair on 2 May.
Darwish memorial lecture on 5 October 2008
Abdel Wahad Hani recites in Arabic
poems by Mahmoud Darwish