PEN Canada In Partnership with LitFest Presents Words Without Borders



    
                  a literary tour for freedom of expression

    EDMONTON, March 26 /CNW/ -

                           Friday, April 4th 7:00pm
                          Suggested Admission - $10
       Advance Sales at Tickets on the Square www.tixonthesquare.ca or
                                 780.420.1757
                 Milner Library Theatre No. 7 Churchill Square

    Featuring Readings by

    Jalal Barazanji
    Afua Cooper
    Rita Espeschit
    Sheng Xue

             For more information contact LitFest (780) 498.2500
                       or PEN Canada www.pencanada.ca
    

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    PEN Canada Launches Words Without Borders, A Cross Country Tour for
    Freedom of Expression

    PEN Canada is taking its literary reading series Readers and Writers on
the road featuring an exciting line-up of established Canadian writers
alongside members of PEN Canada's Writers in Exile Program.
    Words Without Borders features authors from around the world who bear
witness, speak out, and write about both local and global political issues.
The tour runs from April 3rd-5th in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
    The writers participating in the tour are Afua Cooper, award-winning
poet, author, and recording artist selected by Essence Magazine as one of
25 women who are shaping the world; Jalal Barzanji, a Kurdish writer and poet
from Iraq who is now the City of Edmonton-PEN Canada writer in exile;
Rita Espeschit a prolific Brazilian-Canadian author and journalist; and
Sheng Xue, a poet, journalist, and member of PEN Canada's Writers in Exile
Program who left China after Tiananmen Square. In Vancouver the tour will be
joined by Hadani Ditmars a journalist, photographer and author of Dancing in
the No-Fly Zone.
    The evening of readings will explore international perspectives on
freedom of expression and honour the power and vitality of the writer as
provocateur. The tour will also raise critical awareness of PEN Canada's work
on behalf of imprisoned writers, support of exiled writers in Canada, and
advocacy on local and international issues of freedom of expression.
    "We are very excited to be taking the PEN message to Western Canada and
provide an opportunity for audiences to connect with these outstanding
writers," said Isobel Harry, Executive Director of PEN Canada.
    PEN Canada is pleased to announce partnerships for Words Without Borders
with three of Canada's leading literary festivals - WordFest in Calgary,
LitFest in Edmonton, and the Vancouver International Writers' Festival.

    Words Without Borders, Calgary

    In Partnership with WordFest: Banff-Calgary International Writers
    Festival 403.294.7462
    Thursday April 3rd 7:30pm, Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission)
    Central Library, John Dutton Theatre 616 Macleod Trail Southeast

    Words Without Borders, Edmonton

    In Partnership with LitFest 780.498.2500
    Friday April 4th, 7:00 pm Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission)
    Sales at Tickets on the Square www.tixonthesquare.ca or 780.420.1757
    Milner Library Theatre No. 7 Churchill Square

    Words With Out Borders, Vancouver

    In Partnership with The Vancouver International Writers Festival
    604.681.6330
    Saturday, April 5th 7:30pm Ticket Price $10 (suggested admission)
    The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St
    Advance Tickets 604.689.0926
    (*) David Davidar will not be participating in the Vancouver reading

    Thank you to our sponsors: the Edmonton Journal, Canada Council for the
    Arts, The Firehall Arts Centre, and The Edmonton and Calgary Public
    Libraries.

    
                             Author Biographies
    

    An ethnic Kurd from Iraq, Jalal Barzanji is a recognized poet and
journalist who had a long literary career before he was forced to leave the
country in 1998. He was imprisoned from 1986 to 1989 because of his writings.
In Iraq, Barzanji edited several magazines and worked at many cultural
organizations. He has published hundreds of articles and poems about human,
cultural and women's rights. He has published six books of poetry and fiction:
The Dawning Of The Evening Snow (1979, Jamour Publishing, Kurdistan of Iraq);
Unwarm (1985, Rashid Publishing, Baghdad); War (1996, Gew Books, Kurdistan of
Iraq); Holy Rain (2002, Kurdish Ministry of Culture); Memory of a Person Under
the Wind (2006, Badrxan Publisher, Kurdistan of Iraq) and On going back to
Birth place (2007, Mnara, Kurdistan of Iraq). Barzanji served on the board of
the Iraqi Kurdish Writers' Union and was executive director of the Culture
Department of the Culture Ministry in the autonomous Kurdish region of
northern Iraq. Since coming to Canada, Barzanji has continued to write and has
published several volumes of poetry in Kurdish. Barzanji is currently PEN
Writer in Exile in the City of Edmonton.

    Afua Cooper is an eminent and award-winning author, historian, poet,
curator, performer, cultural worker, and recording artist. A recent winner of
the Harry Jerome Award for Professional Excellence, Afua was also chosen by
the editors of Essence Magazine (Oct. 2005) as one of the 25 women who are
shaping the world. Her most recent history publication The Hanging of
Angélique, The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of
Old Montréal was nominated for the 2006 Governor-General's Award in
non-fiction. Afua recently completed The Young Phillis Wheatley, a
fictionalized account of the life and art of the eighteenth-century Black poet
Phillis Wheatley, and the Young Henry Bibb, based on the early life of the
Black North American antislavery advocate. Her poems have been anthologized in
national and international publications, and translated in several languages.
She has published five books of poetry including the award-winning Memories
Have Tongue. Afua's newest book of poetry is Copper Woman. Also a dynamic and
riveting performer, Afua has participated in numerous events across Canada,
the Caribbean, the UK, the United States, and West Africa. Known as a
proponent of the African-Caribbean poetry genre, Dub poetry, Afua has fused
together the scribal, literary, musical, and performative aspects of that
artform in her performances. Her first solo recording Sunshine is as
collection of poems for children. Her latest poetry CD is Worlds of Fire: In
Motion. Afua founded the Committee to Commemorate and Memorialize the
Abolition of the Slave Trades (CMAST)

    Rita Espeschit is a Brazilian-Canadian writer and journalist who
immigrated to Canada in 2001. She is the author of thirteen published books of
literature for children and teenagers, two poetry books, two staged plays,
two videos (one of them presented at Havana's International Film Festival),
and co-author of a series of eight language-arts textbooks for children in
grades one to eight. As a journalist, Rita has worked for leading Brazilian
newspapers, magazines and TV stations for over 10 years. She is the recipient
of numerous literary awards and national prizes, including the Jabuti National
Prize, the most important prize in Brazil's literary market. Other awards
include: the Coca-Cola Environmental Award for Children's Theatre for the play
Terra azul! (presented at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro, 1992); Parana's State National Literature
Prize, in 1994. Joco de Barro National Prize in 1994 and the "Revelation
Author" prize in 1996. Her books have been adopted as required reading in
hundreds of schools throughout Brazil. In Canada, Rita was the recipient of a
grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts in 2003 to complete the first
draft of a fictional work for young audiences. In 2007 she won the first prize
at the contest Poetry by New Canadians, for the poem "A Guide for an
ESL-friendly Language", which was later published in WestWord Magazine. Rita
has been commissioned to write a 15-minute short play for children to be
presented during the "Sprouts New Play Festival", in Edmonton, in 2008 and a
non-fiction short text for the upcoming book "The Story that Brought me Here"
organized by writer Linda Goyette.

    Sheng Xue grew up in Beijing. She moved to Canada soon after the June 4th
Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. In 2000, she won the Canadian Association
of Journalists Award for Investigative Journalism and the National Magazine
Award, for an investigative report on the lives of Chinese boat refugees
published in Maclean's magazine. In 2001, Sheng Xue investigated China's most
prominent smuggling case and published a book (in Chinese), Unveiling the Yuan
Hua Case (2001, Mirror Books, New York). China's Propaganda Ministry
immediately banned the book. Sheng Xue has been writing poetry and prose for
many years, over a hundred of which have been published. Sheng Xue's article,
"The Unbearable Heaviness of Being", was collected in The Exiles Who Did Not
Die (2005, INK Publishing Limited, Taiwan). The book collected thirty-nine
articles of Chinese authors in exile. Her prose stories "The Bloody Morning"
and "Light up a Candle Please" were collected in Poetry and Tank (2007, Chen
Zhong Publishing House, Hong Kong). Sheng Xue is a member of the Editorial
Board of June 4 Poetry, a collection of poems commemorating the June 4th
Movement.





For further information:

For further information: Media Contact - Josh Bloch,
jbloch@pencanada.ca, (416) 703-8448 x23


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