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  Barry Wellman         Professor of Sociology        NetLab Director
  wellman at

  Centre for Urban & Community Studies          University of Toronto
  455 Spadina Avenue    Toronto Canada M5S 2G8    fax:+1-416-978-7162

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 12:33:46 -0400
From: Pen Office <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: CALL to PEN Writer Members to become NETWORKERS

READERS & WRITERS and The Writers in Exile Network is pleased to

CALL to PEN Writer Members to become NETWORKERS

In response to recent READERS & WRITERS Calls for Participation, a
significant number of newcomer writers with professional writing
histories in their countries of origin will make contact with PEN over
the next months. READERS & WRITERS is creating a new way for established
PEN writer members to be active in the organization by taking on a
Writers in Exile “Networker” role, inspired to some degree by the
successful example of the Writers in Prison “Minder” role.

A Writers in Exile “Networker” will become an intermediary for each new
refugee writer member to get an anchor in PEN’s activities and in local
literary communities. The Coordinator will match up pairs of writers
from the point of view of location in Ontario, literary themes,
languages spoken, etc. to facilitate an ongoing email correspondence,
receive updates and collect bio materials for web posting.

READERS & WRITERS is striving to create the first spokes of a network of
writerly affiliations, so that Canadian writers and exiled writers can
build a community dialogue about issues that are of central relevance to
PEN’s work, as a phase of preparation for province-wide READERS &
WRITERS literary events. Please see the Guidelines that follow for more
details about the specific kind of volunteer involvement we are seeking
from PEN writer members.

Through the Networker mechanism, we are hoping that quite a few of the
exiled writers we meet will be encouraged and prepared to take part as
literary participants in events down the road, and to become involved in
other program initiatives. We are also hoping that established Canadian
PEN member writers will find satisfaction and community through this
form of increased collaboration with PEN.

READERS & WRITERS is PEN Canada’s new program of network building and
public literary encounters in communities across Ontario to nurture
public dialogue about freedom of expression, exile, immigration and
resettlement, and the act of writing itself as refuge, resistance and
re-imagination. With the generous support of the Ontario Trillium
Foundation, READERS & WRITERS readings will begin in fall 2003 and
continue with increased frequency through 2005. Each reading will
present a roster of writers living in exile in Canada, established
Canadian PEN member writers and local emerging writers to regional
audiences, in affiliation with community libraries, educational
institutions, art galleries, writers’ networks and local immigrant/
refugee support organizations.

Writers in Exile “Networker” Guidelines

READERS & WRITERS has evolved from the work of Writers in Prison and
Writers in Exile Committees, as well as from literacy-based PEN programs
in the U.S. and U.K. At the core of the program is a widespread outreach
effort to bring refugees who self-identify as exiled writers into
meaningful relationship with PEN Canada, literary networks and diverse
audiences. Refugee writers who have not yet been in contact with PEN are
being invited to become members and participate in this network-building

Most exiles will not have had published work translated into English.
Many will have only a working level of spoken and written English. Some
will have experienced state intimidation, persecution, torture and/or
imprisonment. Some will be outspoken writers, scholars, and/or
journalists with some experience of public performance; others will be
disinclined to speak in public. Many of them will be isolated, possibly
working in a day-to-day job unrelated to their writing experience or
ambitions. Many will be interested in sharing writing that has been
written during years of passage from a situation of direct persecution
to arriving and settling, to whatever extent has been possible, in
Canada. (Since pilot program support is provincial, Networkers are
sought first in Ontario.)

You will be paired up for an introductory email dialogue with a new
refugee PEN member writer, over a period of one month or so, in which
hopefully a collegial exchange can develop about the writing life, how
freedom of expression has been experienced or constrained, how you have
each chosen your writing subjects, with reflections on home, identity,
writing, literary community given particular life history and present
circumstances, etc. During this phase, you can expect an exchange of
perhaps two or three emails a week, more if suitable to both writers.
You are asked to save the text of this initial correspondence and to
forward it to the Coordinator after the first month or so.

If this conversation proceeds well, you will be asked to assist the
exiled writer to assemble a biographical text and writing sample for the
online Catalogue of Writers in Exile. The biographical material needs to
profile his/her writing history and experience, in a form that is both
appropriate for academic institutions to survey and for literary
presenters and general readers to read. This resource is being developed
to create an accessible resource for libraries, educational institutions
and municipalities to locate writers whom they may be interested in
inviting for short-term or long-term residencies, class visits, chairs,
fellowships, as well as to nurture the writer’s profile in Canada.
Translation is a major issue with most of the exiles we meet. The
process of readying basic bio and resume material can require a fair bit
of care, generosity and thoroughness, and it is hoped that through a
process of becoming familiar with each other, the two writers will be
able to do a better job of preparing an accurate and useful profile than
the Coordinator can do. Please visit the to view the
Catalogue of Writers in Exile as it is being developed.

Based on your growing familiarity with the exiled writer, you will be
asked to give feedback to the Coordinator on the skills and level of
experience of the new refugee writer member, and help arrive at a
profile of what sort of professional opportunity would best suit and
assist him/her, so PEN can attempt to find such opportunities. Many
times this will involve arriving at an idea about the translation needs
of the exiled writer, in terms of his or her writing.

As part of your correspondence, you will be asked to share information
about your local writing scene, and how the publishing and reading scene
works, orienting the exiled writer to the way it all works in Canada.
Every country has its different protocols and pathways. You will be able
to give your correspondent a glimpse into Canadian standards and
resources, including literary readings series, library locations, and
writers’ hangouts in your locality. If the correspondence becomes
friendly and there is mutual interest in meeting in person, you might
wish to arrange to meet with the added possibility of introducing the
exiled writer in person to aspects of the local writing community, i.e.
accompanying them to a particular reading or lecture. In addition,
several social events bringing together paired writers along with
memberships of other writers’ organizations and human rights
organizations will be hosted by READERS & WRITERS over the next year to
extend and support these network-building efforts.

READERS & WRITERS is interested in several initiatives. Over time, we’d
like to publish an anthology in which PEN member writers and exiled
writers will engage with heritage sites, leading to site-specific
writing opportunities; as well, we’d like to establish a writers’
retreat for exiles with established writer and senior exile mentors.
Overall, we think it a good idea to cultivate a greater sense of
connectedness among PEN members of all backgrounds and experience
levels. Your support is welcome and deeply appreciated.

If you are interested, please contact: Margaret Christakos, Outreach and
Events Coordinator, READERS & WRITERS         Email:
[log in to unmask]          Phone:  416-703-8448, ext 23
Mail:  PEN Canada, 24 Ryerson Avenue, Suite 214, Toronto, Ontario M5T
2P3.                         (May 2003)

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Christakos at [log in to unmask]

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