Writers-in-Exile

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Franziska Sperr
Foto: Brigitte Corell

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.

Franziska Sperr

Vice President and Writers-in-Exile Commissioner
PEN Center Germany

 

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11.10.2018, 14 Uhr – (German) „Der aufblasbare Engel“ Lesung und Gespräch mit Zaza Burchuladze und Ilija Trojanow auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse

Zaza Burchuladze Foto: Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

(German) Der georgische Autor und ehemalige Writers in Exile-Stipendiat Zaza Burchuladze stellt unter Moderation von Ilija Trojanow sein 2018 beim Aufbau Verlag erschienenes Buch „Der aufblasbare Engel“ vor. Continue reading

11.10.2018, 11 Uhr – (German) „Tagebuch eines afrikanischen Illegalen“ Lesung und Gespräch mit Enoh Meyomesse und Franziska Sperr auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse

Enoh Meyomesse, mit bürgerlichem Namen Dieudonné Enoh, ist Lyriker, Romanautor, Dramatiker, Historiker und politischer Aktivist. Er wurde 1954 in Kamerun geboren. Portraits der Writers-in-Exile-Stipendiaten am 28.4.2018 im Hotelzimmer 250 des Romantikhotel Gebhards im Rahmen der PEN-Jahrestagung 2018 vom 26. bis 29.4.2018 in Göttingen. Foto: Stefanie Silber Enoh Meyomesse Foto: Stefanie Silber

(German) Der kamerunische Autor Enoh Meyomesse wird in Lesung und Gespräch von Franziska Sperr, Vizepräsidentin und Beauftragte für Writers in Exile des deutschen PEN-Zentrums, vorgestellt. Continue reading

12.10.2018, 13:30 Uhr – (German) “Exil – Hoffnungen und Hindernisse” – Podiumsdiskussion auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse

Auf dem Bild von links nach rechts: PEN-Generalsekretär Carlos Collado Seidel, Aslı Erdoğan, Regula Venske und Claudia Hülsken Foto: © PEN-Zentrum Deutschland Aslı Erdoğan Foto: © PEN-Zentrum Deutschland

(German) Schreiben, Lesen, Übersetzen – wie geht das im Exil? Darüber diskutieren unter Moderation von PEN-Präsidentin Regula Venske Lyrikerin und Übersetzerin Pegah Ahmadi, Writers-in-Exile Stipendiatin Şehbal Şenyurt Arınlı und die Autorin Aslı Erdoğan. Continue reading

29.08.2018, 19 Uhr – (German) „Mensch, Du hast Recht(e)!“ – Vernissage und Lesung mit Maria Knissel und Enoh Meyomesse in Darmstadt

Enoh Meyomesse, mit bürgerlichem Namen Dieudonné Enoh, ist Lyriker, Romanautor, Dramatiker, Historiker und politischer Aktivist. Er wurde 1954 in Kamerun geboren. Portraits der Writers-in-Exile-Stipendiaten am 28.4.2018 im Hotelzimmer 250 des Romantikhotel Gebhards im Rahmen der PEN-Jahrestagung 2018 vom 26. bis 29.4.2018 in Göttingen. Foto: Stefanie Silber Enoh Meyomesse Foto: Stefanie Silber

(German) Unter dem Titel „Mensch, Du hast Recht(e)!“ lädt Amnesty International im Rahmen einer Ausstellungseröffnung zu einer Lesung ins Offene Haus u. a. mit dem Elsbeth-Wolffheim-Stipendiaten der Stadt Darmstadt Enoh Meyomesse ein. Continue reading

20.07.2018, 20 Uhr – (German) “Sara – mein ganzes Leben war ein Kampf” – Filmvorführung und Diskussion mit Şehbal Şenyurt Arınlı in Nürnberg

(German) Mit “Sara – mein ganzes Leben war ein Kampf” wird im Desi Stadtteilzentrum e.V. ein Film der türkischen Writers-in-Exile Stipendiatin Şehbal Şenyurt Arınlı zu sehen sein. Bekannt wurde sie als Dokumentarfilmerin bekannt: als erste Frau hinter der Kamera in ihrem Land drehte sie Nachrichtenbeiträge für internationale Fernsehsender, und als lokale Berichterstatterin für CNN, BBC und REUTERS. Continue reading