PEN Canada In Partnership with The Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival Presents Words Without Borders



    
                  a literary tour for freedom of expression

    VANCOUVER, March 26 /CNW/ -

                         Saturday, April 5th 7:30pm
                          Suggested Admission - $10
                       Advance Tickets (604) 689.0926
                The Firehall Arts Centre, 280 East Cordova St

    Featuring readings by

    Jalal Barazanji
    Afua Cooper
    Hadani Ditmars
    Sheng Xue

       For more information contact the Vancouver International Writers
           Festival (604) 681-6330 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 five writers participating in the tour are David Davidar, head of
Penguin Canada, and author of The Solitude of Emperors; 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;
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 Pubisher, 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
artfrom 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)

    David Davidar was born in Kerala, India, in 1959. He is a graduate of
Madras University and Harvard, where he obtained a diploma in publishing.
After working as a journalist and while still in his mid 20s, Davidar founded
Penguin India with a budget of just US$10,000. The company published a mere
six titles in 1987, but later became one of Asia's biggest publishing houses
with revenues running into millions. Davidar's first novel, The House of Blue
Mangoes, published in 2002, is a sweeping epic, which chronicles three
generations who witness major events in the history of India. Not wanting to
take advantage of his publishing connections, Davidar sent out the novel under
a pseudonym, only coming clean when an agent expressed a wish to meet the
author. The book was a critical success and has been translated into
16 languages. It was also a New York Times Notable Book in 2002. In 2004,
Davidar transferred to Penguin Canada where he orchestrated a similarly
remarkable turn-around in the company's fortunes. Authors that Davidar has
published include Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth,
Rohinton Mistry, William Dalrymple, Shashi Tharoor, Philip Roth, Zadie Smith,
Khaled Hosseini, Hisham Matar and Alice Munro. His new novel, The Solitude of
Emperors, was released in September, 2007.

    Journalist, author and photographer Hadani Ditmars' work examines the
human costs of sectarian strife as well as cultural resistance to war,
occupation and embargo. Hadani's work, which has taken her to Beirut, Iran,
Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Colombia, Egypt, Ireland,
Indonesia, Italy, India, Jordan, Tunisia and Uzbekistan, has been published in
the New York Times, the London Independent, The Globe and Mail, Newsweek,
Time, Macleans and Ms. Magazine and broadcast on CBC and BBC radio and
television. Hadani has been a regular CBC Radio's Dispatches contributor since
the show's debut in 2001. She was also a regular current affairs commentator
on Rogers OMNI television program The Standard. Her best selling book Dancing
in the No Fly Zone (chosen by the Globe and Mail as one of 100 best and most
influential books of 2005) recounts her time in Iraq from 1997 until the fall
of 2003 and is one of the few recent books on the troubled nation that covers
pre and post invasion reality. Hadani's next book focuses on her return to
Israel/Palestine and Lebanon a decade and half after her first sojourns there.

    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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