PEN emerged during a moment of postwar optimism regarding the potential of human fellowship to overcome the contingencies of geopolitical power.
Authors Margaret Atwood, Eugene Benson and Graeme Gibson brought PEN Canada to Toronto in 1984.
Kenneth J. Harvey’s thoughtful piece on the realities of his work as a minder, originally published in PEN Canada’s December 1994 newsletter.
On December 6th, 1990, PEN hosted its annual benefit. The show-stopper that night was the following duet, performed by Canadian icons Robertson Davies and Margaret Atwood, accompanied intrepidly by Tomson Highway on piano.
In July 1990, a land dispute broke out between a Mohawk community and the small town of Oka, Quebec. Tensions mounted when the Mohawk community protested, creating road blockades. Then president of PEN Canada, John Ralston Saul, addressed the crisis in PEN’s September 1990 newsletter.
A chair sat empty June 2, 2015 at PEN Canada’s annual general meeting and Ideas in Dialogue event to recognize the absence of Honourary Member, Eskinder Nega. Nega, an Ethiopian …
In October 1993, PEN Canada’s Writer in Prison chair, Marian Botsford Fraser, attended and reported on the trial of Eli Langer, an artist whose works were seized on the basis of a newly amended definition of child pornography that was extended to include any visual representation of a person under the age of 18 engaged in “explicit sexual activity”.
Martha Kumsa came to Canada in 1991. As a journalist from Ethiopia, she had been held in prison under atrocius conditions for nine years and eight months before being released in 1989 with the help of PEN Canada. The following is a reflection on fractured identity, from being Oromo, to Ethiopian, to a Black writer in Canada.
In September, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published editorial cartoons that satirized the prophet Mohammed. PEN Canada recommended restraint in order to create a space for critical debate, while defending the right to publish the cartoons.
As PEN launches a student centre at Ryerson University, we look back on the student chapter that started it all at the University of Toronto in 1990.