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 Wednesday 15 November at Volume bookshop, 15 Church Street, 5.30 – 6.30 pm.
The programme will include a talk by Dana Wensley, PEN (NZ) Representative for Freedom of Speech, and readings by local poets of the work of poets who are or have been killed or imprisoned for their work – Amanuel Asrat (Eritrea), Aron Atabek (Kazakhstan), Enoh Meyomesse (Cameroon), and Yu Zhang, reflecting on Liu Xua (China). Juliet Ayre will perform a solo violin piece, ‘Malinconia’ by Eugene Ysaye. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.