PEN Canada, HarperCollinsCanada and Toronto Public Libraries join forces for Freedom to Read Week

     Singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer and author Trevor Herriot among those
         speaking out for the environment and freedom of expression

    TORONTO, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - PEN Canada, the Canadian arm of the
international organization that helps writers around the world who have been
persecuted for the peaceful expression of their ideas, has teamed up with
publisher HarperCollinsCanada and the Toronto Reference Library to host a
public event they are calling Closer to the Land.
    Three award-winning Canadian authors known for their positions on
particular environmental issues, Taras Grescoe, Trevor Herriot and Ken
McGoogan, will be joined by Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer, also an
outspoken advocate for better environmental custodianship. CBC Radio One's
Matt Galloway will host what is bound to be a lively and memorable discussion.
    "We have been able to gather some of Canada's most outspoken champions
for our natural environment under one roof," said Bruce Walsh, speaking for
PEN Canada. "The freedom to speak one's mind and commit our ideas to paper is
a fundamental human right. Tragically, many writers and artists have been
censored, severely punished or killed for their thoughts on environmental
    The panelists will bring their unique perspectives to the mainstage at
the Toronto Reference Library in Toronto on February 27th at 7:00pm. Tickets
sell for $10.00 and are available at BookCity locations and at the door on the
night of the event. All proceeds go to PEN Canada.
    "Freedom of expression is a powerful human right," said Trevor Herriot.
"But we take it for granted in North America - so much so that we sometimes
miss the subtle forms of erosion diminishing its power in the public arena
    Closer to the Land will give Torontonians an opportunity to hear from
four distinct Canadian voices, each one informed by a personal set of
experiences with the ongoing contest between human activity and the natural
environment that sustains us. The evening will be introduced by a PEN Canada
representative, and PEN Canada Writer in Exile, Amatoritsero Ede will read
poems by the late Nigerian environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
    "Toronto Public Library has partnered with PEN Canada for 12 years on
this very significant and special annual event," said Toronto Public Library
Chief Librarian Jane Pyper. "We are pleased to continue to provide the Toronto
Reference Library as the venue to hear these very important voices."

    Toronto Public Library is the world's busiest urban public library
system. Every year, more than 16 million people visit its 99 branches and
borrow more than 29 million items. To learn more about Toronto Public Library,
visit or call Answerline at 416-393-7131.

    PEN Canada works on behalf of writers, at home and abroad, who have been
forced into silence for writing the truth as they see it. PEN Canada opens the
space for debate. It lobbies governments in Canada and internationally,
organizes petitions, sends letters, faxes and postcards for the release of
persecuted writers, and conducts public awareness campaigns about freedom of
expression. PEN works for the release of imprisoned writers internationally,
and to ensure that those responsible for the increasing number of murdered
writers and journalists are brought to justice. At home, the organization
works for freedom of expression within a national context, and to develop
opportunities for writers living in exile. We work so that stifled voices can
be heard once again.

    HarperCollinsCanada publishes fiction, non-fiction, and books for
children, as well as religious and reference books. HarperCollins imprints in
Canada include HarperCollins, HarperPerennial, HarperTrophyCanada, Collins,
and Phyllis Bruce Books. These imprints publish many of Canada's finest
writers, including Barbara Gowdy, Lawrence Hill, J.L. Granatstein, Charlotte
Gray and Kenneth Oppel as well as great writers and leading authorities from
around the world, such as Tim Flannery, Barbara Kingsolver and Alan Weisman.
    HarperCollinsCanada also distributes America's Test Kitchen, TokyoPop,
Zondervan,and HarperCollins, Collins, Perennial and Harper Paperbacks from the
US and the UK. HarperCollins is also the first publisher to digitize its
content and create a global digital warehouse to protect the rights of its
authors, meet consumer demand and generate additional business opportunities.
Visit the HarperCollinsCanada website at

For further information:

For further information: Edward Karek, Communications Officer, Toronto
Public Library, (416) 397-5925, or (647) 406-9671, Email:; Rob Firing, Director, Publicity and
Communications at HarperCollinsCanada Ltd., (416) 975-9334, ext 141, Email

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