Sharlene Lazin, Why I Support PEN

PEN Canada’s end-of-year campaign launched Tuesday November 28, and runs until December 31.
To understand PEN Canada’s impact, we’re sharing testimonials from the PEN community. They are writers in exile, writers in peril, and emerging writers. They are teachers, novelists, journalists, activists, bloggers and poets. Sharlene Lazin writes: 

*        *        *

For years when I taught high school, the most important lesson I could share with students was to understand the power of words — those they read, and the ones they said or wrote.

PEN Canada recognizes Canada’s “New Voices.” I’m fortunate to be a finalist for that award (even as a slightly older person). But the young ones are struggling so much harder, against forces that ban the books they read or write, threaten them with cyber or real-world violence, tell them who or what is sanctioned to write about, steal their creations via AI, or question the need,  in the career-oriented education system, to master the art of communication. And, as we all do, these young voices fight constantly to find truth in all the dark clouds of doublespeak.

They need advocates and the strength of PEN voices coming together to keep expression safe, free and integral to our existence. 

This giving season, please support PEN Canada, not just for the work they do now, but for the words of every young journalist, every poet and novelist and documentarian, still to come, and all of us blessed to read or hear them.

Sharlene Lazin
Finalist, 2023 RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award, and teacher, poet, novelist

*        *        *

Help us write a brighter future for writers in peril. Donate today