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REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS

· Chinese Authorities Razing Ai Weiwei’s Studio Part of Larger Attack on Artistic Expression · The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam · Voronezh Notebooks by Osip Mandelstam · Journey to Armenia by Osip Mandelstam · Call on Iran to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe · Free Liu Xia, China, poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre · 49e poetry international festival rotterdam – 29/05 – 03/06 2018 · A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun. The Life & Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks by Angela Jackson · Expositie Charlotte Salomon in Joods Historisch Museum Amsterdam · Robert Desnos: Faire part · Turkey: release imprisoned journalists and other media workers · Earthly Signs. Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922 by Marina Tsvetaeva

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Chinese Authorities Razing Ai Weiwei’s Studio Part of Larger Attack on Artistic Expression

_____________________________________________________________________________

August 7, 2018
NEW YORK – The unannounced demolition of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing is symptomatic of a larger attack on human rights and artistic expression in China, said PEN America today.

On August 6, Artist and activist Ai Weiwei announced on social media that authorities had demolished his Beijing artist studio. Ai stated that he had received no advance notice prior to the demolition. Although several of his works were damaged in the studio’s demolition, the artist explained that he is more preoccupied with the effects of China’s “urban development” projects on artists and migrant populations, saying: “Since last year, a policy was enacted to clear out migrant workers from Beijing . . . Those who do not belong to the establishment, including artists, are always the first to be discriminated against and sacrificed.”

Within the past few years, artist colonies including Songzhuang and Caochangdi—the latter an arts district that Ai helped develop—have been targeted for eviction and demolition. Artists have cited both runaway economic development and political disfavor as rationales for authorities’ hostile attitudes. More broadly, an urban development policy conceived last year to push migrant workers out of Beijing has empowered local authorities to take unannounced action to demolish property, a policy that has led to thousands of migrant workers losing their homes.

“Regardless of the government’s motives, the unannounced demolition of an artist’s studio is a demonstration of a lack of appreciation or even acknowledgment for the role of the artist in society,” said Julie Trébault, Director of PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection. “Around the world, artist studios and communes are spaces to be cherished, not discarded.”

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and strengthening the network of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. They champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Their mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
www.pen.org

the freedom to write
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The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam is a central figure not only in modern Russian but in world poetry, the author of some of the most haunting and memorable poems of the twentieth century.

A contemporary of Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetayeva, and Boris Pasternak, a touchstone for later masters such as Paul Celan and Robert Lowell, Mandelstam was a crucial instigator of the “revolution of the word” that took place in St. Petersburg, only to be crushed by the Bolshevik Revolution. Mandelstam’s last poems, written in the interval between his exile to the provinces by Stalin and his death in the Gulag, are an extraordinary testament to the endurance of art in the presence of terror.

This book represents a collaboration between the scholar Clarence Brown and W. S. Merwin, one of contemporary America’s finest poets and translators. It also includes Mandelstam’s “Conversation on Dante,” an uncategorizable work of genius containing the poet’s deepest reflections on the nature of the poetic process.

Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) was born and raised in St. Petersburg, where he attended the prestigious Tenishev School, before studying at the universities of St. Petersburg and Heidelberg and at the Sorbonne. Mandelstam first published his poems in Apollyon, an avant-garde magazine, in 1910, then banded together with Anna Akhmatova and Nicholas Gumilev to form the Acmeist group, which advocated an aesthetic of exact description and chiseled form, as suggested by the title of Mandelstam’s first book, Stone (1913).

During the Russian Revolution, Mandelstam left Leningrad for the Crimea and Georgia, and he settled in Moscow in 1922, where his second collection of poems, Tristia, appeared. Unpopular with the Soviet authorities, Mandelstam found it increasingly difficult to publish his poetry, though an edition of collected poems did come out in 1928. In 1934, after reading an epigram denouncing Stalin to friends, Mandelstam was arrested and sent into exile. He wrote furiously during these years, and his wife, Nadezhda, memorized his work in case his notebooks were destroyed or lost. (Nadezhda Mandelstam’s extraordinary memoirs of life with her husband, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned, published in the 1970s, later helped to bring Mandelstam a worldwide audience.)

Clarence Brown is the author of a prize-winning biography of Mandelstam and is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton.

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in Union City, New Jersey, and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Portugal, and Majorca. He has since lived in many parts of the world, most recently on Maui in the Hawaiian Islands. He is the author of many books of poems, prose, and translations and has received both the Pulitzer and the Bollingen Prizes for poetry, among numerous other awards.

The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam
by Osip Mandelstam, translated from the Russian by Clarence Brown and by W.S. Merwin
Paperback
Series: New York Review Books Classics
Pages: 192
Publ. Date: August 31, 2004
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590170911
ISBN-13: 978-1590170915

Books That Everyone Should Read
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Voronezh Notebooks by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam is one of the greatest of twentieth-century poets and Voronezh Notebooks, a sequence of poems composed between 1935 and 1937 when he was living in internal exile in the Soviet city of Voronezh, is his last and most exploratory work.

Meditating on death and survival, on power and poetry, on marriage, madness, friendship, and memory, challenging Stalin between lines that are full of the sights and sounds of the steppes, blue sky and black earth, the roads, winter breath, spring with its birds and flowers and bees, the notebooks are a continual improvisation and an unapologetic affirmation of poetry as life.

Russia’s greatest poet in this century. — Joseph Brodsky

Mandelstam was a tragic figure. Even while in exile in Voronej, he wrote works of untold beauty and power. And he had no poetic forerunners… In all of world poetry, I know of no other such case. We know the sources of Pushkin and Blok, but who will tell us from where that new, divine harmony, Mandelstam’s poetry, came from? — Anna Akhmatova

Voronezh Notebooks by Osip Mandelstam,
translated from the Russian and with an introduction by Andrew Davis
ISBN: 9781590179109
Pages: 128
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Series: NYRB Poets
The New York Review of Books
Paperback

Books That Everyone Should Read
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Journey to Armenia by Osip Mandelstam

Osip Mandelstam visited Armenia in 1930, and during the eight months of his stay, he rediscovered his poetic voice and was inspired to write an experimental meditation on the country and its ancient culture.

This edition also includes the companion piece, “Conversation About Dante,” which Seamus Heaney called “Osip Mandelstam’s astonishing fantasia on poetic creation.” An incomparable apologia for poetic freedom and a challenge to the Bolshevik establishment, the essay was dictated by the poet to his wife, Nadezhda Mandelstam, in 1934 and 1935, during the last phase of his itinerant life. It has close ties to the Journey to Armenia.

Osip Mandelstam (1891–1938) was born and raised in St. Petersburg, where he attended the prestigious Tenishev School, before studying at the universities of St. Petersburg and Heidelberg and at the Sorbonne.

Mandelstam first published his poems in Apollyon, an avant-garde magazine, in 1910, then banded together with Anna Akhmatova and Nicholas Gumilev to form the Acmeist group, which advocated an aesthetic of exact description and chiseled form, as suggested by the title of Mandelstam’s first book, Stone (1913). During the Russian Revolution, Mandelstam left Leningrad for the Crimea and Georgia, and he settled in Moscow in 1922, where his second collection of poems, Tristia, appeared.

Unpopular with the Soviet authorities, Mandelstam found it increasingly difficult to publish his poetry, though an edition of collected poems did come out in 1928. In 1934, after reading an epigram denouncing Stalin to friends, Mandelstam was arrested and sent into exile. He wrote furiously during these years, and his wife, Nadezhda, memorized his work in case his notebooks were destroyed or lost. (Nadezhda Mandelstam’s extraordinary memoirs of life with her husband, Hope Against Hope and Hope Abandoned, published in the 1970s, later helped to bring Mandelstam a worldwide audience.

Journey to Armenia by Osip Mandelstam,
introduction by Henry Gifford,
translated from the Russian by Sydney Monas, Clarence Brown, and Robert Hughes
Series: Notting Hill Editions
ISBN: 9781907903472
Pages: 192
Publication Date in Hardcover:
September 25, 2018

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Call on Iran to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been imprisoned in Iran for nearly two years on bogus charges. She hasn’t committed any crime.

Nazanin has been told that she could be charged again and face another trial imminently, which may result in an even longer prison sentence.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a 39-year-old British-Iranian woman, who ordinarily lives with her husband and young daughter in London.  She works for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a UK-based media charity. This has been used against her as evidence of ‘membership of an illegal group’, the charge that Nazanin was found guilty of at an unfair trial which saw her sentenced to five years in prison

She was arrested on 3 April 2016 at a Tehran airport, when she was about to board a plane home to the UK with her then one-year-old daughter, Gabriella. They had been on holiday in Iran visiting Nazanin’s parents – a trip Nazanin had made many times before, without incident.

At the airport, they were stopped by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Nazanin was taken into custody, without being told why, and Gabriella was given to her grandparents, who had accompanied them to the airport. Gabriella’s UK passport was confiscated at the airport (she does not have an Iranian passport), though it has since been returned.

When Nazanin was first detained, she wasn’t told why. She was put in solitary confinement. She was held in solitary for 45 days, and could not speak to her family or a lawyer. Her family were not told the reasons for her imprisonment.

Nazanin did not have a fair trial. She was only allowed access to a lawyer three days before her trial. In September 2016, Nazanin was sentenced to five years in prison for ‘membership of an illegal group’.

Nazanin’s physical and mental health is suffering. She suffers from severe arm, neck and back pain as a result of her prison conditions, and her hair is falling out. Nazanin’s husband has most recently said that she is worried about lumps on her breast.

Her family say that Nazanin has been extremely distressed and depressed during her imprisonment and separation from Gabriella. Last November, Nazanin wrote a suicidal letter to her family. A year has passed and her mental health has continued to decline.

The Iranian authorities have a track record of not allowing prisoners the healthcare they need – especially for people imprisoned on political charges – and this is sadly the case for Nazanin too.

◊ Amnesty International UK asks to take action. We (FDM mag.) support their work.

◊ Help get Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home.

◊ Call on Iran to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

# More information on website Amnesty International UK

free prisoner of conscience: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
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Free Liu Xia, China, poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre

Liu Xia, China, is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre. Xia has been held under unofficial house arrest in her Beijing apartment since her late husband, the poet Liu Xiaobo, was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2010.

For seven years, Liu Xia (1961) was held in her apartment without access to phones, internet, doctors of her choice, or visitors. Following the death of her husband in July 2017 and the expression of concern for her wellbeing, Xia appeared in a video in which she asked to be left alone to mourn – it is thought that she may have done this at the behest of the authorities.

The Independent PEN Centre (ICPC) report that the restrictions applied against Liu Xia have relaxed somewhat; she has access to a telephone and is allowed to leave her home, but is under constant surveillance. Colleagues at ICPC report that Liu Xia has been removed from Beijing for the duration of the National People’s Congress; it is expected that she will be returned to her Beijing home after this date.

There are reports that Liu Xia’s mental and physical health continue to suffer due to her detention.

PEN International believes that the ongoing, extra-judicial house arrest of Liu Xia is a form of punishment for the human rights work carried out by her husband, Liu Xiaobo, and is extremely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity.

 

Please take action for Liu Xia.

# More information and how to act, see website PEN UK

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49e poetry international festival rotterdam – 29/05 – 03/06 2018

49e Poetry International Festival Rotterdam
Het jaarlijkse feest van de internationale poëzie

Op dinsdag 29 mei opent het 49e Poetry International Festival in Theater Rotterdam. Tot en met zondag 3 juni hoor je voor de 49e keer de mooiste gedichten uit alle windstreken en in vele talen, eerst in de Schouwburg, aansluitend in en om Locatie Witte de With.

Naast poëzievoordrachten brengt het festival films, muziek, interviews, lezingen, themabijeenkomsten en masterclasses. Een kermis van verlangen, kritiek, avontuur en troost, met de kunst van het woord als brandstof. Iedereen is uitgenodigd op het jaarlijkse feest van de poëzie.

Kom alvast in de stemming en vertaal zelf de poëzie van de festivaldichters tijdens het vertaalproject Met Andere Woorden. Vanaf 1 maart staan de eerste gedichten online. Kies je favoriete taal en dichter en ga aan de slag (zie verder de website van p.i.).

Opening POETRY+ART Gallerytour
zondag 27 mei in de Kunsthal
Opening 49e Poetry International Festival
dinsdag 29 mei in Theater Rotterdam Schouwburg
Festival tot en met 3 juni in Theater Rotterdam Witte de With

49e poetry international festival rotterdam
29/05 – 03/06 2018

# meer informatie op website poetry international

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A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun. The Life & Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks by Angela Jackson

A look back at the cultural and political force of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, in celebration of her hundredth birthday

Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the great American literary icons of the twentieth century, a protégé of Langston Hughes and mentor to a generation of poets, including Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Her poetry took inspiration from the complex portraits of black American life she observed growing up on Chicago’s Southside—a world of kitchenette apartments and vibrant streets. From the desk in her bedroom, as a child she filled countless notebooks with poetry, encouraged by the likes of Hughes and affirmed by Richard Wright, who called her work “raw and real.”

Over the next sixty years, Brooks’s poetry served as witness to the stark realities of urban life: the evils of lynching, the murders of Emmett Till and Malcolm X, the revolutionary effects of the civil rights movement, and the burgeoning power of the Black Arts Movement. Critical acclaim and the distinction in 1950 as the first black person ever awarded a Pulitzer Prize helped solidify Brooks as a unique and powerful voice.

Now, in A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun, fellow Chicagoan and award-winning writer Angela Jackson delves deep into the rich fabric of Brooks’s work and world. Granted unprecedented access to Brooks’s family, personal papers, and writing community, Jackson traces the literary arc of this artist’s long career and gives context for the world in which Brooks wrote and published her work. It is a powerfully intimate look at a once-in-a-lifetime talent up close, using forty-three of Brooks’s most soul-stirring poems as a guide.

From trying to fit in at school (“Forgive and Forget”), to loving her physical self (“To Those of My Sisters Who Kept Their Naturals”), to marriage and motherhood (“Maud Martha”), to young men on her block (“We Real Cool”), to breaking history (“Medgar Evers”), to newfound acceptance from her community and her elevation to a “surprising queenhood” (“The Wall”), Brooks lived life through her work.

Jackson deftly unpacks it all for both longtime admirers of Brooks and newcomers curious about her interior life. A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun is a commemoration of a writer who negotiated black womanhood and incomparable brilliance with a changing, restless world—an artistic maverick way ahead of her time.

What shall I give my children? who are poor,
Who are adjudged the leastwise of the land,
Who are my sweetest lepers, who demand
No velvet and no velvety velour;
But who have begged me for a brisk contour,
Crying that they are quasi, contraband
Because unfinished, graven by a hand
Less than angelic, admirable or sure.

from ‘The Children of the Poor’

Angela Jackson is an award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including the National Book Award–nominated And All These Roads Be Luminous: Poems Selected and New. Her novel Where I Must Go won the American Book Award in 2009. Its sequel, Roads, Where There Are No Roads, was published in 2017. Additionally, Jackson was longlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and a longlist finalist for the PEN Open Book Award for her 2015 poetry collection, It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time. Other honors include a Pushcart Prize, Academy of American Poets Prize, TriQuarterly’s Daniel Curley Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. Jackson lives in Chicago.

A Surprised Queenhood in the New Black Sun
The Life & Legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks
By Angela Jackson
Paperback – $18.00
ISBN 9780807059128
Published by Beacon Press
208 Pages
May 29, 2018

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Expositie Charlotte Salomon in Joods Historisch Museum Amsterdam

Het Joods Historisch Museum markeert het honderdste geboortejaar van kunstenares Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943) met een bijzondere tentoonstelling gewijd aan haar artistieke nalatenschap: het kunstwerk Leven? of Theater?

 

Charlotte Salomon was 22 jaar toen ze in december 1938 vanuit Berlijn als vluchteling bij haar grootouders in Zuid-Frankrijk aankwam. Toen bij het uitbreken van de Tweede Wereldoorlog haar grootmoeder zelfmoord pleegde, begon Charlotte aan een ‘totaal waanzinnig project’ om mentaal te overleven. In vele honderden gouaches herschiep ze haar leven als een geschilderd theaterstuk. Charlotte Salomon werd in 1943 in Auschwitz vermoord.

Na de Tweede Wereldoorlog vonden haar vader en zijn vrouw Leven? of Theater? in Zuid-Frankrijk. Zij schonken het in 1971 aan het Joods Historisch Museum. De afgelopen decennia reisden delen van het werk langs musea wereldwijd. Salomons levenswerk heeft altijd intense reacties opgeroepen bij het publiek en inspireerde kunstenaars, filmers, schrijvers en choreografen tot eigen creaties. Het Joods Historisch Museum toont nu voor het eerst het werk in zijn totaal – ruim 800 gouaches.

 

Charlotte Salomon;
Leven? of theater?
Nog t/m 25 maart 2018

Joods Historisch Museum en JHM Kindermuseum
Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1
1011 PL Amsterdam

# meer info op website joods historisch museum

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Robert Desnos: Faire part

 

Faire part

Sur le pont du navire la couturière fait le point
couturière taille-moi un grand paon de mercure
je fais ce soir ma dernière communion
La dernière hirondelle fait l’automne
D’entre les becs de gaz blêmes
Se lève une figure sans signification.
Statues de verre flacon simulacre de l’amour
Vient la fameuse dame
Facteur de soustraction
avec une lettre pour moi
Mon cher Desnos Mon cher Desnos
Je vous donne rendez-vous
dans quelques jours
On vous préviendra
Vous mettrez votre habit d’outre monde
Et tout le monde sera bien content.

Robert Desnos
(1900 – 1945)
Faire part

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Turkey: release imprisoned journalists and other media workers

Turkey now jails more journalists than any other country. One third of all imprisoned journalists in the world are being held in Turkish prisons, the vast majority waiting to be brought to trial.

  

Journalists and media workers from all strands of opposition media have been targeted in an unprecedented crackdown since the violent coup attempt in July 2016.

Coupled with the closure of more than 160 media outlets, the message is clear and disturbing: the space for dissent is ever-shrinking and speaking out comes at an immeasurable cost.

This crackdown must end. Act now to demand media freedom in Turkey.

Journalists and other media workers must be freed from pre-trial detention. A free media is an essential component of any functioning, pluralist society.

They must be allowed to do their job, because journalism is not a crime.

 # Take  action  and  send  email  via  amnesty  international

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Earthly Signs. Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922 by Marina Tsvetaeva

A moving collection of autobiographical essays from a Russian poet and refugee of the Bolshevik Revolution.

Marina Tsvetaeva ranks with Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, and Boris Pasternak as one of Russia’s greatest twentieth-century poets. Her suicide at the age of forty-eight was the tragic culmination of a life buffeted by political upheaval.

The essays collected in this volume are based on diaries she kept during the turbulent years of the Revolution and Civil War.

In them she records conversations of women in the markets, soldiers and peasants on the train traveling from the Crimea to Moscow in October 1917, fighting in the streets of Moscow, a frantic scramble with co-workers to dig frozen potatoes out of a cellar, and poetry readings organized by a newly minted Soviet bohemia.

Alone in Moscow with two small children, no income, and a missing husband, Tsvetaeva struggled to feed her daughters (one of whom died of malnutrition in an orphanage), find employment in the Soviet bureaucracy, and keep writing poetry. Her keen and ruthless eye observes with compassion and humor—bringing the social, economic, and cultural chaos of the period to life. These autobiographical writings not only give a vivid eyewitness account of Russian history but provide vital insights into the workings of Tsvetaeva’s unique poetics.

Includes black and white photographs.

Earthly Signs
Moscow Diaries, 1917-1922
By Marina Tsvetaeva
Translated by Jamey Gambrell
Poetry
Paperback
Dec 05, 2017
288 Pages
Paperback
$17.95
Published by NYRB Classics
ISBN 9781681371627

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