For World Poetry Day – dissident poets from PEN International

As we celebrate the art, the international organisation defending writers’ freedom offers a selection of voices that have been silenced by repression.

Unfree speech … a plain-clothes policeman tries to stop photos being taken outside the house of Liu Xia. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images
Unfree speech … a plain-clothes policeman tries to stop photos being taken outside the house of Liu Xia. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Continue reading “For World Poetry Day – dissident poets from PEN International”

My Throat Will Die

My throat, unable to speak, will die
For the sounds of my homeland.
My ancestors’ patter will vanish
Like water into sand.
I am a storyteller of immortality
In Semitic and Etruscan tongues;
I am the dust of Turkic dialects
Writing in Russian.
Many lives’ twisted fates
Are lost inside me, mourning,
And I myself am a naked tangle of nerves
Pulsating with verses

(Translated by Alfia Nakipbekova and Niall McDevitt)
Dissident poets from PEN International

Greetings from Czech PEN-Centre

Dear Mr. Atabek!

I am a member of the Czech Center of International PEN. I hope you will accept this New Year’s greetings from my home town. I and other people are interested in getting you released as soon as possible. Please, take some hope from that.
Very sincerely,
Jiri Hajicek, B.Smetany 35
37001 C.Budejovice, Czech Rebuplic

Greetings from Czech PEN-Centre
Czech PEN-Center wishes Aron Atabek to get released.

Continue reading “Greetings from Czech PEN-Centre”

Zhanaozen remembered – Bach performance and poetry – London, December 17

Campaign Kazakhstan and Article 19 hosted an evening of film, discussion, poetry and music to commemorate the second anniversary of the police violence in Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan.
This film features a performance of J S Bachs for solo cello by Alfia Nakipbekova, and a selection of imprisoned Kazakh poet Aron Atabeks poems, by Niall McDevitt and Alfia Nakipbekova.

The Dissidents: Aron Atabek

The Kazakh poet Aron Atabek has been in prison since 2007. He has been placed in solitary confinement for two years as punishment for writing a book that criticises President Nursultan Nazarbayev, and is due for return to the general prison population at the end of 2014. He has previously spent two years in solitary confinement for refusing to wear a prison uniform: one third of his incarceration so far has been spent in isolation. Both the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Committee against Torture have concluded that prolonged solitary confinement is tantamount to torture. Atabek describes his confinement as ‘a prison within a prison.’

Atabek has been involved in publishing, writing and political activism since the mid-1980s. He is the founder of two newspapers and author of nine books. For more than two decades his writing and activism have focused on political and social issues, and on the corruption that he believes has kept President Nazarbayev in power for the last 23 years. He is a blunt and very vocal critic of the president.

Any of our readers who wish to know more about this imprisoned writer please consult the web link of Ambit magazine underneath the poem ‘My throat will die’.

International PEN Writers in Prison Committee is running a campaign for Aron Atabek. Those interested in helping could consult the weblinks to Cathal Sheerin’s campaign through the links at the end of the poetry citations.
Continue reading “The Dissidents: Aron Atabek”