I’m proud to announce that I’m now a member of PEN America, the East Coast United States chapter of PEN International. Founded in London in 1921, PEN is the world’s oldest human rights organization, and also the oldest international literary organization, with its membership comprised of novelists, journalists, poets, essayists, playwrights, and more. PEN International works to promote the important role that writers have in shaping society, by emphasizing mutual understanding between cultures, speaking out against tyranny, and bringing people together. The organization also coordinates the PEN Prison Writing Program, which provides inmates a much needed opportunity for self-expression through writing, as well as access to writing mentors, and an audience. PEN also fights for freedom of expression and freedom of the press across the world, sounding the bullhorn for writers who have been imprisoned or killed for their writing.
From their website:
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
PEN America is the largest of more than 100 centers of PEN International. For more than 90 years, we have been working together with our colleagues in the international PEN community to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. In doing so, we are building on a tradition begun in the years following World War I and carried forward by thousands of American writers.
Needless to say, I’m both honored and excited to now be a member, and look forward to doing my part to further these important goals in whatever way I can. After all, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press, is the cornerstone of free society.