For 100 years, PEN has been committed to defending the freedom of all people to express ideas without fear of attack, arrest, murder or other forms of persecution. This centenary arrives at a time when borders are closing, authoritarianism is ascendant and the voices of many are silenced. In the face of this opposition, PEN continues to uphold the fundamental role of literature as a force for change, in bringing together people of diverse experiences, fostering understanding and inspiring conversations across cultures.
In this special event, held on the international Day of the Imprisoned Writer, join an assembly of voices and languages as we pay tribute to the work of PEN and rejoice in the power of the written word. Featuring readings and reflections from Arnold Zable, Shokoofeh Azar, Hidayet Ceylan, Jackie Mansourian, Anna Takluem and Chris Lwin. Hosted by PEN Melbourne Ambassador Sami Shah.
Presented in partnership with PEN Melbourne and supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. Help support PEN's campaigns to defend persecuted and imprisoned writers.
Shokoofeh Azar is an Iranian-Australian journalist and author, living in Australia since 2010 as an asylum seeker. She is the author of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree which was published in 2017 by Wild Dingo Press in Melbourne. This debut novel was nominated for the International Booker prize, The Stella, The Pen and National Awards.
Hidayet Ceylan was born in Sivas, Turkey in 1964. He lived in Ankara after age five until migrating to Australia in 1997. He studied Mining Engineering in Turkey. Hidayet started writing poetry after 2001 and he was inspired by Alevi spirituality poets like Yunus Emre, Pir Sultan Abdal and Nesimi. He was also inspired by Joseph Campbell, Erich Fromm, Paulo Freire, Victor Frankl and Frantz Fanon.
Chris Lwin is a law student at Deakin University in Melbourne and he served as a student representative at the University in 2021. A member of Victorian Myanmar Youth, he has been actively fighting for Myanmar people's freedom through advocacy, fundraising and lobbying with the team.
Anna Takluem was born in Matupi, Chin State, Burma. In 2007 at the age of 13, her sister and her had to leave their family and hometown and went to India. They stayed in India as a refugee under UNHCR for seven years until coming to Australia in 2014 under a humanitarian visa. Anna now works as a Burmese interpreter, helping her community with things they need help with. Anna also works as a Church School teacher at her church. She completed a Diploma of Nursing and is going to continue study with a Bachelor of Nursing at ACU University.
Arnold Zable is a highly acclaimed novelist, storyteller and human rights advocate. His works include Scraps of Heaven, Violin Lessons, The Fighter, which was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, and his most recent work The Watermill. Zable lives in Melbourne.
Sami Shah is a multi-award winning comedian, writer, journalist and broadcaster.
Sami's comedy has won the Best Local Act at the 2013 Perth International Comedy Festival, and Best Comedy at 2016 Fringe World. He’s performed multiple sold-out runs at comedy festivals across Australia, as well as in London’s Soho Theatre. Sami has been a frequent guest on The Project, and also appeared on QI with Stephen Fry
The PEN Empty Chair is for PEN Melbourne honorary member Nedim Türfent, a Kurdish poet and journalist. Nedim has spent 2000 days in a Turkish prison on the unjust charge of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.
You can name your own price for this live-stream, any amount helps keep our events accessible. Bookings are recommended.Book now