Series

Writing in Exile

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PEN International Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Writers and journalists are often among the first citizens targeted and punished by autocratic leaders. With creeping authoritarianism and instability in many regions around the world, it's an increasingly dangerous time for writers of all kinds.

On the eve of PEN International's Day of the Imprisoned Writer, we'll hold a special panel event as part of our Writers in Exile series to discuss old and emerging threats to literary freedoms today.

Host Sami Shah will welcome back the three writers who have shared their personal stories of exile  – journalist Roza Germian, playwright Samah Sabawi and playwright and poet Mammad Aidani – for the last conversation in the series. They'll discuss their own experiences and their knowledge of press and literary restriction in their respective home countries. They'll talk, too, about the role Australia can and should play on the international stage with regards to protecting and protesting the freedom of writers here and overseas.  

Join us as we talk free minds, free words and free expression today.

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.

Who?

Portrait of Sami Shah

Sami Shah

Comedian and writer Sami Shah has been profiled in the New York Times and ABC's Australian Story, and appeared on BBC Radio 4, BBC Asian Network, TEDx, The Project and the Soho Theatre. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia and is co-presenter of 774 / ABC Breakfast Radio.

Portrait of Roza Germian

Roza Germian

Roza Germian was born in the second year of the eight year-long Iran-Iraq war, in the city of Kirkuk under the Baathist rule. The majority of Kirkuk’s population were of Kurdish background and regularly targeted by the Baathist regime. In 1991, during the first Gulf War, her family along with four million Kurdish people became refugees in Iran and Turkey. Roza’s family arrived in Australia in 1996, where she later studied journalism. Roza is now the Executive Producer for the SBS Radio Kurdish Program.

Portrait of Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi is an award-winning playwright, author and poet. Her critically acclaimed play Tales of a City by the Sea was selected for the 2016 Victorian Certificate of Education Drama Playlist, won two Drama Victoria awards for best new Australian publication and best performance for VCE and was nominated for Best Independent Production at the Green Room Awards. The play was staged to full houses and standing ovations in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Malaysia, Canada and Palestine and is on the study list of a number of universities and schools around the globe.

Portrait of Mammad Aidani

Mammad Aidani

Mammad Aidani is a human rights advocate, acclaimed poet, playwright, theatre director, and distinguished psychosocial researcher investigating the violence, torture and trauma experienced by Iranians and Middle Eastern immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have resettled in Australia and the West.

Mammad has been part of the international art project, Heartbreak, at this years’ Venice Biennale, and his play In The Mirror will be restaged at La Mama theatre in 2020. He is currently working on a theatre project with a group of Iranian asylum seekers and refugees called Forough and Us, in which they reflect on the fearless personality and the unique and challenging poetry of the most significant Iranian female poet Forough Farrokhzad (1934–1967). He has not been able to return to Iran over the last 40 years. Mammad’s writings have been banned and are not published in Iran.

How much?

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Writing in Exile

‘Exiles see double, feel double, are double,’ André Aciman has written. ‘When exiles see one place, they're also seeing – or looking for – another behind it.’

For this series, in partnership with PEN Melbourne, we’ll draw on the double vision of some incredible international writers, living and working in exile here in Melbourne. What are the dangers, sorrows and consolations of writing about home, away from home? How can distance warp and focus a writer’s perspective? And what do Australians need to know about the freedoms denied to citizens of other countries? Hosted by Sami Shah – himself an exiled writer originally from Pakistan – we’ll hear from journalists, authors and poets.

Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne.

Where?

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