PEN, Amnesty and Changing the World – Poetry News Roundup October 12th

In today’s round-up we bring you the PEN International Writer of Courage, a poetry project launched by Amnesty International and the poet who is included on the TIMES magazines 46 women who are changing the world list.

PEN International Writer of Courage

Earlier this year Michael Longley, a poet in Northern Ireland won the PEN Pinter Prize, on Tuesday this week he announced Mahvash Sabet, a Baha’i poet as the International Writer of Courage, 2017.

Established in 2009 in memory of Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, the award is given jointly to two writers. One must be a British, Irish or Commonwealth writer who shares the “unflinching, unswerving” gaze on society that Pinter had and the other is an international writer who has faced a period of persecution.

Arrested in 2008 along with 6 other Baha’i leaders, Sabet was convicted in 2010 of espionage and spreading propaganda in her home country of Iran. She was jailed for nearly a decade before being released in September of this year. The Baha’i faith is not recognised within the Iranian constitution, it was banned after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

In 2013 a collection of her poems was translated into English and publish in Britain under the title “Prison Poems”.

Words That Burn

On 11th October, Amnesty International UK launched “Words that Burn”. It is hoped that this innovative human rights and poetry project will connect student in the UK with individuals around the world who are having to deal with human rights abuse.

The project will begin with students witting poetry for someone called Azza Soliman, who is a lawyer from Egypt that represents individuals who have suffered torture, detention and domestic abuse. Soliman herself been arrested on a number of occasions and still is up to face charges relating to slandering the image of Egypt by suggesting that such atrocities take place. It is planned that the poetry will be sent to Soliman to offer support in her defence of human rights.

The project was launched by artist of the spoken word, Keith Jarrett, and is supported by other top UK poets; Hollie McNish, Inja and Sarah Crossan.

46 Women Who Are Changing the World

TIME magazine has just published its “FIRSTS series”, the list highlights 46 women who have broken barriers in their own individual fields.

Rita Dove, who was the first African-American women to serve as a U.S. poet laureate, and is a commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia has been named as the only poet on the list.

Dove was the poet laureate from 1993 to 1995, she has published 10 books, including both poetry and other publications. In 1987, she won a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for “Thomas and Beulah”.

In putting the list together, the magazine wanted to see if there was so common denominator, a motive that was shared by these women who are pioneers in their field. These are women who have been on journeys, who have encountered obstacles along the way and been told they would never achieve their end goals.

The list also includes women including Ilhan Omar, who was the Muslim Somali-American  to first become a legislator, Madeline Albright the first woman to become US State Secretary and Kathryn Smith the first woman to become a full-time coach in the NFL.

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