Afghan PEN centre has now 511 registered members from all over Afghanistan most of whom have received official Afghan PEN ID cards.
Registration of PEN
Afghan PEN was registered with the justice ministry. Based on the new law, organizations that are registered with the justice ministry do not have the right to receive funding from international sources, which means we also have to get ourselves registered with the information & culture ministry.
The following four books have been published:
– Gul-e-Doody, Nadia Anjuman’s poetry collection
– Aimwarg, a collection of poetry in Pashayi language
– Zangal au zala bezu, a short story for children in Pashtu, by Ajmal Torman
– Nilu, a collection of short stories by Belqis Makiz
200 copies of each of the published books have been distributed to the public libraries and university. 18 copies of Gul-e-Doody 21 copies of Aimwarg have been sold during the events at the house. Two other Collections of Persian and Pashtu short stories are being published.
The PEN magazine’s Pashtu and Persian versions have been submitted for publication but have not yet been published for technical reasons. A brochure on Afghan PEN and freedom of expression have been published in 1000 copies.
a. Based on the conference held in May, over 200 writers from the provinces joined the Afghan PEN.
b. The Afghan PEN held recitals for 8 writers from Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kandahar, Khost and Herat.
c. The Youth Writers’ Home was officially opened. It has 5 rooms, and is located near the university. Civil Society & Human Rights Network (CSHRN) will pay the monthly rent cost of $270 for one year. The Youth Writers’ have has 118 members so far. Youth writers hold their own regular book reading, poetry recital, short story reading and critique. Literary workshops are held two days a week.
d. Goroh-e-Talaya-ha (pioneers’ group) was established. After several meetings with women’s rights activists, woman writers and journalists, a group of 37 women was formed and named “Talaya-ha”. This group will work with the Afghan PEN to promote women’s literature and discover literary talents among Afghan women. Talaya-ha group is formed of university students, University lecturers, literary programme runners, and women’s rights activists.
Literary Workshops and Conferences
Poetry techniques and short story techniques workshop was held for one month with participation of 27 youths.
Satire techniques workshop is still going on.
Literary criticism workshop was held for one day for 108 students of literature faculty.
Conference on the development of women’s literature held for one day in Setara Restaurant for 311 participants including 121 women. 15 articles were read in this conference and at the end there was a round table discussion on women’s literature in Afghanistan.
Literature against violence conference was held for one day, with participation of 211 writers and journalists at the Keshmeshak restaurant. The participants discussed about the role of literature in conflict resolution and it was agreed that in the near future a group of 100 writers and singers will go to the provinces and hold literary functions to speak against the culture of violence.
“Ghuchi mega chi mega” was a programme held for children. Poets read their poems for children.
“Let’s write for children!” was a one-hour round table on Afghan national TV with seven writers.
Mirror Day (Roz-e-Ayina)
Najib Roshan (General director of Afghan Radio TV) was summoned to the court of PEN and answered the questions and criticism by the participants. Mr Roshan accepted several suggestions of the Afghan PEN to bring improvement in the programmes of the national TV.
Appreciation Day (Roz-e-Sepaas)
The Afghan PEN held a grand function to express appreciation to the veteran poet Haidari Wojoodi who has worked in the field of poetry for 46 years.
An other grand function was held for appreciation to the Pashtu ghazals king Pir mohamad Karwan. Karwan is the most effective poet of Pashtu language.
Afghan PEN TV programme
Afghan PEN makes a literary TV programme for the national TV. 2 programme has already been aired. Afghan PEN will also make two programmes a month (Pahtu and Persian) about the members of the Afghan PEN and their literary work.
Literary events in the hourse:
In June and July to date, the Afghan PEN has held 41 events (poetry recitals, short story reading, literary criticism, satire, and music programmes). There is a small event in the house almost every day.
The Afghan PEN has announced the following prizes:
Translation prize, a prize of $1000 has been announced for a book on literary theories. The amount will be given by Negisa foundation.
The amount $9000 has been announced for three books by women. This will be paid by Negisa.
The amount $1000 has been announced for two poetry books for children. This will also be paid by Negisa foundation.
Defence of freedom of expression
Balkh TV journalists had problem of censorship imposed by government officials. Samay Hamed, Shafiq Payam, and Najib Roshan went to the province and had a meeting with the governor. The problem has been solved now.
Essa Behsham (a poet living in Baghlan province) had written something on religious issues that had outraged the mullahs there. Samay Hamed had a meeting with Baghlan governor and he expressed his commitment to help the writer who has now gone back to his city after escaping away for sometime.
Some writers came to the Afghan PEN complaining about censorship in that city. Representative of the Afghan PEN met with the writers and the government officials there. They all promised to protect freedom of expression.