The Royal Holloway English PEN society hosted a poetry and speaking event on the 2nd of December that aimed to highlight the differences and similarities between the Eastern and Western worlds. According to the English PEN society, the event was about “breaking down the East/West divide, through poetry and spoken word”. The event saw several students, one staff member and two outsider poets speaking about dual nationality and their positions in both the Western and Eastern worlds. Victoria Bulley and Antosh Wojcik, the two outsider poets, as well as Jazz Kaur, Modupe Reis, Prudence Chamberlain and Dr. Eley Williams all dazzled the audience with their insightful observations regarding the “East/West divide” and their own experiences of it, emphasising the notion of free speech that is enshrined by the English PEN. It was interesting to see the diverse interests and inclusionary atmosphere of those in attendance at the event, particularly with the description of the event suggesting that the event and society as a whole was needed due to our increasing failure “at being an inclusionary society”.
Royal Holloway English PEN is a relatively new society and just a branch of the organisation PEN International. PEN International promotes and protects free speech around the world. English PEN in particular is only one of 145 PEN centres in over 100 countries, campaigning to defend the “human right to freedom of expression” for “writers and readers in the UK” and working to release international prisoners persecuted for free speech. The Royal Holloway branch of English PEN and PEN International seeks to give a voice to students at the university that feel like they are unable to express their ideas and opinions elsewhere.
The ‘We of the Western World’ event charged £3 entry to those that wanted to attend and all proceeds went to the English PEN organisation, adding this successful event to their roster of outstanding charitable outreach fundraisers. Should people wish to donate to the English PEN, a worthy cause celebrating free speech and the right to freedom of expression, the website enables people to donate to and volunteer for the cause: https://www.englishpen.org/donate/.