A note on : English PEN Modern Literature Fest in Kingston

The 4th annual one night fest celebrating writers-at-risk supported by English PEN took place at the Bishop in Kingston, as part of Writers’ Centre Kingston. It saw 9 writers share new pieces of literature speaking for those writers around the world currently oppressed for their political actions or stances. It was a really generous and engaging night, with some grand readings by Sam Jordison, Ellen Wiles, Gareth Evans and more. All the videos are online https://www.writerscentrekingston.com/pen2019/

My own performance was for Oleg Sentsov, the filmmaker currently imprisoned in a penal colony for 20 years on trumped up charges by Russia. What struck me about him, which I wanted to represent, was his unearthly stubbornness, and insistence, and heart, and courage, and resilience. He clearly has an iron mind and is utterly principled, beyond any possible expectation in fact. I read his letter at the end of the performance but wanted to use the somewhat pathetic metaphor of eating nailed fruit as a way to represent the intensity of his refusal, when in court in Russia, to offer any submission.