PEN to Paper: Jennifer Egan

Caption: 

In this PEN to Paper series video, PEN America president Jennifer Egan guides viewers through a short writing exercise involving a “word throw,” designed to help writers to free up their minds to the unconscious imagination. The series is part of PEN America’s 2020 World Voices Festival: These Truths, held digitally this year.

A Conversation With Yiyun Li

Caption: 

“I have an obligation to human beings, my characters, so that’s all I care about.” In this PEN International interview, Yiyun Li speaks about the expectation as a Chinese American writer to be a spokesperson for a particular experience, and how she enjoys exploring the interior struggles of her characters. Li won the 2020 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for her novel Where Reasons End (Random House, 2020).

Genre: 

All of Us, In Prison

Caption: 

“Some prisons taste like / salt, copper, sludge / when you bite and crunch down / to the marrow...” In this video, Cortney Lamar Charleston reads Jevon Jackson’s poem “All of Us, In Prison” at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery for a 2019 Brooklyn Book Festival event. Jackson’s poem won PEN America’s First Prize in Poetry in the 2019 Prison Writing Contest.

Genre: 

June 2nd, 1989

Caption: 

“I didn’t have a chance / to say a word before you became / a character in the news...” Khaled Hosseini, Rita Dove, Philip Gourevitch, and Siri Hustvedt read Liu Xia’s poem “June 2nd, 1989” from Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015), translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern. PEN America and Amnesty International collaborated on the video series as a call to free Liu Xia from house arrest in Beijing, where she has been held since her late husband, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, was imprisoned in 2009.

Genre: 

How to Sacrifice Your Brother, Even When He Is an Aztec

Caption: 

“Understand we have never seen an apple, so we are completely free from apples.” In this 2014 video of the first PEN DIY series event, Natalie Diaz breaks down five personal steps to writing about family, and discusses her poetry with Mike Albo.

Genre: 

Toni Morrison

Caption: 

In this video, MacDowell Colony chairman Michael Chabon presents Toni Morrison with the Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts and American culture. Morrison, who received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Center, tells a packed audience about how she became a writer and the inspiration for her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

Genre: 

Queer Futures

Caption: 

“Do we always go and attend funerals and then after the funerals you go home and wait for another funeral, what? You have to document. You are forced to document.” In this video from the 2015 PEN World Voices Festival, Shireen Hassim moderates a conversation with Kehinde Bademosi, Zanele Muholi, and Binyavanga Wainaina to survey today's African gay rights landscape.

Subscribe to RSS - PEN America