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The transformative power of words


  • Listen: Translation in play and practice


    Asymptote, the international journal of literary translation, host a lively discussion about the art of translation. Read more

  • Xiaolu Guo announced as Weather Stations Writer in Residence

    Xiaolu Guo

    Free Word, on Tuesday evening, announced that Xiaolu Guo would be their Writer in Residence for Weather Stations. Read more

  • Why do we deny visas to so many artists visiting the UK?

    Passport photo

    Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new premium fast-track visa service for business leaders this week, aimed at attracting the "brightest and best" to the UK. But it comes at a time when visas are frequently denied to artists trying to visit our country, damaging our ability to forge cross-cultural connections. Read more

  • Free Word announces ‘Weather Stations’

    In space

    Free Word are delighted to announce Weather Stations, a brand new global project placing literature and storytelling at the heart of conversations about climate change. Launching in the new year, the project harnesses the transformative power of words to imagine, in the context of our threatened environment, how we might live our lives differently.  Weather Stations brings together five…Read more

  • Reframing Palestine: An Introduction

    Raeda Saddeh's Vermeer piece

    In the first of a series of weekly essays exploring our current exhibition, 'Reframing Palestine', curator and publisher Rose Issa gives an overview of the work of the show's creator, Palestinian artist Raeda Saadeh. Read more

  • Surrealist Poetry from Ronnie McGrath

    Ronnie McGrath

    Ronnie McGrath joins us on May 9th for the Caribbean Literary Salon, in conversation with Kerry Young and Kevin LeGendre about his time in Jamaica and how it has influenced his writing. In the next few days we'll be publishing an interview we did with Ronnie, but in the meantime, here he is reading a short piece of his…Read more

  • Writers’ Room: Kerry Young

    Kerry Young

    This week we speak to novelist Kerry Young about capturing the colour and history of Jamaica in her two novels 'Pao' and 'Gloria'. We find out why she wrote both novels entirely in longhand, and hear why feedback - even from people you don't like - is always important. Read more

  • Kerry Young Reads from her New Book, ‘Gloria’

    Kerry Young

    Kerry Young comes to Free Word on the 9th of May for the Caribbean Literary Salon, to talk about Jamaican writing with Kevin LeGendre and Ronnie McGrath. Young was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Chinese father and mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage.  Here she reads from her new novel, "Gloria", set in Jamaica in 1938, when a violent…Read more

  • Monday Reads: “Ali & Ramazan”

    Ali and Ramazan cover

    Ali & Ramazan tells the true story of two boys who meet in an Istanbul orphanage who become close friends, and then lovers. Though they care deeply for each other, they suffer terrible hardship at both the hands of the orphanage's headmaster and the country's mandatory military service laws. It was written by Turkish author and journalist…Read more

  • Writers’ Room: Neel Mukherjee

    Neel Mukherjee

    Comic books, fountain pens, and the importance of a good editor. Novelist Neel Mukherjee talks to us about his craft. Read more

  • Free Thinking from the Irrawaddy Literature Festival

    Monks buy books at a festival stall

    At the beginning of February, the Irrawaddy Literature Festival drew readers and writers from around the world to the city of Yangon in Myanmar. In a country which has lived under the rule of a repressive military junta for more than half a century, it was a cultural and political landmark that allowed writers to gather, speak and exchange ideas freely for the first time in recent history. Cila Warnke visited the festival to see how a country crippled by censorship is starting to find its voice. Read more

  • A New Chapter for Burma’s Literary Life

    Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the launch of the Irrawaddy Iterary Festival.

    In a country no stranger to censorship and incarcerating writers, the Irrawaddy Literary Festival comes at a crucial moment in Myanmar's cultural history. Writer and journalist Cila Warncke investigates what a celebration of writers and writing means for a country in transition. Read more

  • Words in the Mirror

    The Quechua word for ‘hearth’ can also mean ‘mother'.

    Ollie Brock, one of Free Word's new Translators in Residence, explains why he's chosen to start his residency with a discussion of 'untranslatable' words. Read more

  • Notes from International Translation Day 2012

    The panel discuss the state of translation in the UK at the opening session.

    With seminars and talks on getting started in translation, live events, funding, education, digital media and more, International Translation Day 2012 was a hive of discussion for the group of writers, translators, publishers, bloggers and booksellers who attended. If you weren't able to make it, or if you missed a seminar you'd like more information about, you can now download notes and summaries of all of the day's events, made by scribbling volunteers at the back of the audience. Read more

  • Samar Yazbek Awarded International PEN Pinter Prize

    Samar Yazbek and Carol Ann Duffy

    The PEN Pinter Prize was established in 2009 in memory of the Nobel-winning playwright Harold Pinter. The Prize is awarded annually to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world, and shows a ‘fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies’. The prize is shared with an international writer of courage selected by English PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee in association with the winner. This half of the prize is awarded to someone who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs. Robert Sharp from English PEN tells us about this year's winner, Samar Yazbek, who was awarded the prize last night. Read more

  • Recommended Reads: Writers in Translation

    Image from the cover of Purgatory

    With only 3% of titles read in the UK translated from another language, we're always keen to share brilliant books that come from the wealth of literature beyond our shores. English PEN’s Writers in Translation programme does just this, promoting and supporting all kinds of literature in translation with a new selection of titles each year. But where to start? We asked a handful of English PEN staff to recommend their favourite reads from the list. Here's what they had to say. Read more

  • Tunisia’s Graphic Revolution

    Sidi Bouzid sign

    The graphic novel Sidi Bouzid Kids attempts to articulate the realities and concerns of the Tunisian youth who mobilised in last year’s revolution. But while the graphic novel is warmly received in Tunisia, the real town of Sidi Bouzid is tense with post-revolutionary skirmishes. Tunisia’s recent history is continually re-drawing itself in art – from graphic novels to rap – but the lines of free speech are also being re-drawn, and not always in artists’ favour. Read more

  • Burning Books: Sarajevo’s Library Twenty Years on and the Fragility of Cultural Heritage

    Sarajevo library

    Heather McRobie revisits the attack on the Sarajevo library twenty years ago, and considers what cultural and social impact the loss of millions of books has had. Read more

  • Moments from Paralympic History

    Paralympic Archers

    The International Stoke Mandeville Games, the forerunner to the Paralympics, were first organised in 1948 as an activity for World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries recovering at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. In 1992, 45 minutes of television programming covered the entire Paralympic Games. Today, Channel 4 are dedicating 150 hours to it. The Paralympics have often lived in the shadow of their Olympic brother, but their history has been just as turbulent, compelling and politically charged - if not more so. To celebrate the arrival of the Paralympic torch in East London, our sports historian Martin Polley will be bringing you a collection of moments from the Games' history for each day the flame shines over Stratford. Read more

  • Writers Condemn Arizona’s Censorship Law


    Writers at the Edinburgh World Writers Conference earlier this week united in condemnation of the US state of Arizona’s House Bill 2281, which forbids the use of literature “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group”. Targeted at the state’s Latino community,  alongside other controversial anti-migrant powers, this legislation has been used to…Read more