• PEN Turkey declaration on coup attempt

    News and Commentary


    We strongly condemn those who attempted a coup d’etat on July 15th. They staged an armed and bloody attack against the Parliament of our Republic of Turkey established thanks to the leadership of Atatürk.

    We once again emphasize that the principle of secularism, respecting the Constitution and laws as well as the separation of powers are vital for a true democracy and peace. We think that using mosques for political gain is a dangerous mistake. We demand that the provocative announcements that might divide the nation into enemy camps be stopped immediately; they might lead to clashes between siblings, the police, army and civilians. Continue Reading »

  • Lulu Torbet

    News and Commentary


    Lulu’s given name was Laura. Her family called her Lolly. But we here in San Miguel all knew her as Lulu.

    She was extraordinary in almost every way. She was an unusually gifted and brilliant writer and had a long career writing both her own books and ghostwriting books for others. She wrote the books for the widely read psychologist and couples therapist, Harville Hendrix and for the well-known author of The Intimate Enemy: Dr George Bach. Those books were on the best seller lists for months and months, and Lulu wrote those books! Over her long career, she wrote thirty-six books. Continue Reading »

  • A poem for Bill Pearlman

    News and Commentary

    bill_pearlmanPEN International activist Bill Pearlman died near the end  of March 2016. Here is a poem written in his memory.














    “Playing Catch”
    by Christopher Cook
    for Bill Pearlman

    I threw a baseball today and it rolled away, stopped in the grass, forlorn,
    Because Bill-Wild Bill, my baseball buddy-was not there to catch it.
    And now who’ll sit across the table at Martin’s Café
    And volley back my comment on this, or that?
    And who will send me a poem, over the transom, just because?
    And who will tell me that old story about Kesey’s clownwork?
    Or invite me to the theater for Saturday’s matinee?
    Who will now break this sudden silence?
    Who will mend this sudden break?
    I stride downfield to the ball, pick
    it up, nest it in my palm,
    Then take one step and heave it skyward, far over the treetops,
    The clouds, past the sun.
    I close my eyes against the glaring light.
    I wait for him catch it.

    (April 6, 2016)

  • The Child Soldier: From the Congo to Chicago

    News and Commentary

    by Nick Patricca with Katherine Kaufka Walts

    The forced use of a child in armed conflicts profoundly injures the person coerced and gravely insults the idea of the dignity of a human being—an essential value of our civilization and of our self-understanding.

    UNICEF estimates that more than 300,000 boys and girls under the age of 18 have been forced in over 30 conflicts worldwide to use violence against others. In these armed conflicts, children are used as soldiers, messengers, smugglers of drugs and arms, and sex slaves. Some children are forcibly recruited; others are driven to join by poverty or debt. Some are ‘recruited’ with drugs, made compliant by addiction.

    In the complex interaction of violence and social systems, some children join armed groups to seek revenge for violence enacted against them or their families. ISIS has been recruiting boys as young as 10 to be suicide bombers. Nigeria’s Boko Haram has been abducting scores of young women and selling them as sex slaves as well as using boys as combatants. Continue Reading »

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