PEN International: Send a Postcard to a Writer in Prison
Formed in 1921 PEN International campaigns on behalf of writers across the globe who are persecuted, harassed, and attacked for what they have written, or for simply being a writer. With over 100 chapters spread over every continent but Antarctica, PEN is also a global network that connects with citizens to support freedom of expression, press governments for change, uphold internet freedom, and positively affect access to literature and literacy.
Every year from November to February English PEN releases a list of writers in prison, and provides addresses or email addresses for each of them. The list is part of a program called Season’s Greetings, which calls on people to send a card to one of the many writers in prison that PEN supports. The idea is to bring the writers a small touch of the outside world. This year’s list contains writers from Bahrain, China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Syria, and Turkey, among others.
For writers who don’t speak English, PEN has also translated the greetings into a number of languages.
While simple, the cards mean a lot. In the words of imprisoned Cuban poet and journalist Ricardo González Alfonso: “The cards from PEN brought…a thousand and one colors with their happy trills of hope…to the underworld of the prison. The daily damp seemed to do less damage, and even the mold on the walls seemed beautiful to me. It was as if freedom, that miracle, was staying in my cell.”
In a letter to PEN, Vietnamese editor Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, who was granted early release from prison this year, wrote about the significance of the cards she received: “How can I convey what it is I felt when I received your letters; every word penetrated my heart like drops of honey carrying those most earnest and heartfelt thoughts…”
Remember, Season’s Greetings runs through February, so there’s still time to send a card.
Take part in this important campaign and email email@example.com to request the 2011-2012 list of writers.
Note: These addresses should be treated as confidential, and as such must not be posted on a website or otherwise made public as this may lead to misuse by others.