Every 15 November throughout the world, PEN – the international writers’ organisation that champions freedom of expression – marks the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer.
NZSA, which incorporates PEN, honours this event as Courage Day. It is named jointly after James Courage, a novelist and poet whose novel ‘A Way of Love’ was banned because he dared to express homosexuality in his writing, and his grandmother Sarah Courage, whose book describing colonial life in New Zealand was burned by neighbours who resented comments they thought she made about them.
Courage Day recognises writers who defend the right of free speech, and those who suffer oppression and are killed or imprisoned for their work. The day is being observed in Nelson by an event on Sunday 15 November at Refinery ArtSpace, 114 Hardy Street, Nelson, at 5.30 pm. (As the Refinery is normally closed on Sunday, please use the back entrance – go down the alleyway at the side of the building and turn left.)
Dana Wensley, the former PEN (NZ) Representative for Freedom of Speech, will be talking about the writers whom PEN is focussing on this year, and local poets will read from works by imprisoned writers. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.