Applause for PEN
By Sher Davidson
A big applause for Tuesday night’s PEN presentation by Sandra Cisneros, author of A House of My Own and winner of many literary prizes for her most acclaimed novel, The House on Mango Street. As a fervent supporter of PEN, I have enjoyed every one of this season’s lectures in San Miguel de Allende.
PEN is an international organization which defends freedom of expression and works hard to protect the rights of journalists and writers around the world to present their views. We are lucky to have a local PEN group in San Miguel de Allende. Each January, PEN San Miguel de Allende presents a series of lectures by writers, not only of local acclaim but many of national and international acclaim. A minimal fee of 100 pesos helps contribute to the fight to defend the rights and attain the release of accused writers languishing in prisons worldwide. One example: Ashraf Fayadh, a 35-year-old Palestinian poet who lives in Saudi Arabia, where in November of 2015, he was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam. Fayadh was accused of promoting atheism in his 2008 book of poems, Instructions Within. This is just one example of the many writers PEN International seeks to aid and defend.
Not only is an attendee at the local PEN lectures supporting a “good cause,” but for a small contribution, receives an opportunity to hear inspiring speakers such as those in the past four weeks: Mark Saunders talking about the art of writing humor; Deborah Kent Stein telling the interesting story of the historic struggle of the blind to get equal access to literature; and Mamie Spiegel speaking about the life of Sor Juana, a famous nun and early outspoken feminist in Mexico, the face on our 200 peso notes. These lectures both stimulate and entertain, and allow us to help PEN do its good work on behalf of writers throughout the world.