World Poetry Day
March 21st was World Poetry Day. To mark the occasion PEN highlights poets who have paid a high price for their work and are currently in prison. This year PEN is campaigning on behalf of:
Amanual Asrat: Award-winning Eritrean poet and editor-in-chief of the Zemen, The Times. Arrested on 23rd September 2001, PEN has limited information on Asrat’s whereabouts, but it is assumed he is held without trial or charge in a maximum security prison, Eiraeiro, north of Asmara.
Aron Atabek: poet, journalist, and author of prose inspired by Tengriist spirituality, he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment in 2007 following a protest at a ‘shanty town’ called Shanyrak. He has written a poem from prison for PEN (NZ) which can be viewed here.
Liu Xia: a Chinese poet and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre, Liu Xia is held in her Beijing apartment without access to phone, internet, or visitors since her husband (imprisoned poet Liu Xiaobo) was named Nobel Peace Laureate in October 2010.
Ashraf Fayadh: Arrested in August 2013 and accused of ‘misguided and misguiding thoughts’, then rearrested in January 2014 for ‘insulting the divine’ and having long hair, he has been imprisoned in the city of Abha for the last two years. Fayadh is a Saudi Arabia-born Palestinian poet and artist.