Writers-in-Exile

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The Writers-in-Exile Programme of the German PEN Center provides grants for writers who face persecution in their home countries. The German government finances this special program. The unique aspect of the program lies in the fact that we PEN members share the bond of our common profession. This bond is strong no matter what country the scholar had to leave behind. To our writers who are persecuted, mistreated, jailed or even tortured in their home countries we want to offer refuge in Germany. On their way into a new life away from their homes, we reach out to them in companionship.

We provide our scholars with a furnished apartment, a monthly stipend and health insurance for one or two but no longer than three years. During this time, we protect and advise our refugee colleagues. While we give them a short breather to recover from some of the trauma in their countries, we encourage them to continue their work as writers as soon as possible.

Writers do not write to bury their works in drawers, but for an audience. Therefore, we organize readings, arrange for translations, mediate contacts with editors and publishers and publicize their writings in anthologies. Thereby, the anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (Refuge in Germany. Texts of persecuted authors) will be published by S. Fischer in spring 2017 and feature works of many authors.

We try to never miss an opportunity to introduce the scholars to their German colleagues for professional exchanges. The writers in exile receive invitations to literature festivals and we recite their writings in the German language so that their work can become known in Germany.

Dependent on their countries of origin, the authors may speak a little English or French. However, many only speak their native tongue. So we encourage them to start learning the German language as quickly as possible, and regularly attend the German courses sponsored by the Goethe Institute. At the end of three years, the writers in exile should be able to find their way around in this country still foreign to them. Many of the scholars wrestle hard with the question whether they should apply for asylum. Most of them want to return home just as soon as the conditions have settled down in their home countries.

Eight scholars – in these times of hundred thousands of refugees! This sounds like a drop in the ocean. Still, these are eight lives. Every one of these eight lived through horror and left behind everything dear and familiar. Many are under tremendous psychological stress. They need professional help to rein back the agonizing images in their minds and keep these images from taking over their entire outlook on life. Thanks to the large network of volunteers, psychologists, trauma therapists, specialized lawyers and tutors who help with things like the first shopping excursions, we come closer to our goal of healing outer and inner wounds. Nothing makes us happier than seeing a person who came here bitter, tight-lipped, distrustful and full of rejection suddenly show the spark of his or her buried personality. We love to see the spirit coming alive in a person’s eyes again and see the joy of life returning to gray faces. Every time this happens – and it does happen quite often – we feel fulfilled.

So we often find new friends from all over the world who we dine with, who make us laugh and criticize us. Every now and then, our new friends aggravate us because they are stubborn and insist on their own ways. They bring the world into our homes and allow us to share in what might have seemed strange and inexplicable to us before. Therefore, we’re thankful because it broadens our mind.

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28.11.2019, 19 Uhr – (German) Zwei Autorinnen im Transit – Lesung eines literarischen Briefwechsels in Berlin

Gestaltung: Marc Berger

(German) Zwei Schriftstellerinnen korrespondieren über Wochen und stehen sich jetzt zum ersten Mal gegenüber: Terézia Mora, Büchner-Preisträgerin, und Şehbal Şenyurt Arınlı, Schriftstellerin, Dokumentarfilmerin und Stipendiatin des PEN-Exilprogramms. In der Akademie der Künste lesen sie aus ihren Briefen und lassen sich vom ehemaligen PEN-Präsidenten, dem Schriftsteller Gert Heidenreich, zu ihren Texten befragen. Continue reading

(German) Zwei Autorinnen im Transit – Lesung eines literarischen Briefwechsels zwischen Terézia Mora und PEN-Stipendiatin Şehbal Şenyurt Arınlı

Gestaltung: Marc Berger

(German) Pressemitteilung, Darmstadt, 5. November 2019. Im Rahmen der literarischen Reihe des Writers in Exile-Programms des deutschen PEN-Zentrums ist ein Briefwechsel der besonderen Art entstanden. Die zwei Schriftstellerinnen korrespondierten über Wochen und stehen sich zum ersten Mal kurz vor der Abschlusslesung ihrer Briefe gegenüber. Continue reading

(German) Lynch-Kampagne gegen Aslı Erdoğan: Deutscher PEN in großer Sorge um seine Writers in Exile-Stipendiatin

Die türkische Journalistin und Schriftstellerin Aslı Erdoğan. Foto: Bernd Hartung Aslı Erdoğan Foto: Bernd Hartung

(German) Pressemitteilung, Darmstadt, 30. Oktober 2019. Mit großer Sorge sehen wir auf die Lynch-Kampagne gegen die Exilschriftstellerin Aslı Erdoğan, die seit letztem Samstag von Teilen der türkischen Medien entfacht worden ist. Aslı Erdoğan ist derzeit Gast im Writers in Exile-Programm des deutschen PEN. Continue reading

(German) Das PEN-Zentrum Deutschland auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2019 – Impressionen

Foto: © PEN-Zentrum Deutschland

(German) Ist die Meinungsfreiheit in Spanien in Gefahr? Wie steht es um Eritrea? Was bedeutet das Exil für Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller weltweit und wie können wir bedrohte Kolleginnen und Kollegen wirkungsvoll unterstützen? Diesen und vielen weiteren Fragen stellten sich unsere Gäste, Mitglieder und Writers in Exile (WiE)-Stipendiatinnen und -Stipendiaten auf der diesjährigen Frankfurter Buchmesse (16.-20.10.). Continue reading