Writers in Exile

PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Program was created to provide solidarity and support for writers, journalists, poets, editors, translators, essayists and playwrights who have been forced to leave countries in which their freedom of expression was not protected. The program works with exiled writers to develop their professional working skills in a new community of writers through several activities. These include residencies, fellowships, school visits, as well as formal and informal support.


Multi-faceted support for exiled writers

    • Members of PEN are able to help newly arrived refugee writers with their refugee claims and will accompany them to their refugee hearing. PEN Canada can also offer a letter of support when possible and requested.
    • PEN Canada connects Writers-in-Exile to several organizations and media who often broadcast their stories and examine the circumstances which led to their exile.
    • We also give our writers the chance to gather in an informal setting with other established media workers, who have previously offered to mentor them. Writers-in-Exile also gather regularly at Romero House Centre (1558 Bloor St. West) to discuss their experiences within the network.

Residencies and Fellowships

  • Through an affiliation with several universities, colleges, and libraries, PEN Canada is able to provide its Writers-in-Exile with residency opportunities within these institutions. Over the years, PEN has filled more than 35 writer-in-exile placements through this program.

School Visits

  • PEN Canada brings Writers-in-Exile into Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and other regional schools to educate students on the impact freedom of expression has on writers. These visits offer writers the opportunity to develop their ideas, present their work, and gain recognition in the community. They equally offer young people the chance to discover new writers, ask questions about the merits of defending freedom of expression (even when one disagrees with the opinions expressed), and learn more about being a writer.        
Are You a Writer in Exile Living in Canada?

You are welcome to apply to join our Writers-in-Exile network. Simply e-mail our Office Manager, Theresa Johnson, at tjohnson[at]pencanada.ca, and we will send you an application form.