Journalists, writers, and political commentators are under siege in many parts of the world. With freedoms of speech and press limited, nonexistent, or under attack from various regimes and administrations, many writers are forced from their countries in fear for their lives.
Join the University of Saint Joseph and the World Affairs Council of CT for an intimate discussion with three of the world’s most prominent writers from Syria to Bangladesh to Venezuela on the political power structures they confronted, the meaning of freedom of the press, and the world-renowned works which ultimately forced them into exile.
A partnership of the University of Saint Joseph and the World Affairs Council of CT.
Event: 6:00pm – 7:15pm
Reception and opportunity for book sale and signing to follow.
Osama Alomar (Syria) is one of the most well-respected Arabic poets writing today, and a prominent practitioner of the Arabic al-qisa al-qasira jiddan, the “very short story.” He is the author of Fullblood Arabian in English, and three collections of short stories and a volume of poetry in Arabic. Alomar’s first full-length collection of stories, The Teeth of the Comb, will be published by New Directions in April 2017. His short stories have been published by Newyorker.com, Noon, Conjunctions.com, The Coffin Factory, Electric Literature, and The Literary Review. He also performs as a musician. Osama Alomar travels with his translator, Christian Collins.
Tuhin Das (Bangladesh) is a poet, activist, political columnist, short story writer and essayist. He was born and raised in Barisal, Bangladesh. He is the author of seven poetry books in his native language (Bengali). He was involved in the Little Magazine Movement and edited a few literary magazines; he’s had contemporary poetry criticism articles, short stories and political columns published in the last fifteen years in Bangladesh. Since 2013, he has been the target of fundamentalist militant groups who have murdered secular writers and activists in Bangladesh. Instead of protecting him, the police collected and examined his writings for anti-Islamist statements to use against him. To save his own life, he had no choice but to go into hiding and find a way out of Bangladesh. He left his country in April 2016. Tuhin Das is now the current ICORN writer-in-residence of City of Asylum in Pittsburgh.
Israel Centeno (Venezuela) is a writer-in-residence at City of Asylum, having arrived in 2011. He is the author of poetry, short stories, and ten novels and is regarded as one of the most important Venezuelan literary figures of the past fifty years. He has won numerous awards, including the Federico Garcia Lorca Award in Spain and the National Council of Culture Award in Venezuela in 1991. Known as a literary innovator, his work deals with urban dystopias and controversial themes.
Silvia Duarte Associate Director, City of Asylum and Managing Editor, Sampsonia Way Magazine. Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh celebrating literary free expression and supporting persecuted writers worldwide. The magazine’s key staff includes exiled writers living on Sampsonia Way, a street in Pittsburgh that spans cultures and languages, with the mission to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of everyday life.
About City of Asylum
City of Asylum is an organization that provides sanctuary to endangered literary writers. In 1993, in response to a growing incidence of attacks on writers and specifically writer assassinations in Algeria, the International Parliament of Writers was formed. At the behest of the IPW, governments in several European cities agreed to provide one to two years of support for endangered writers in exile. These were called “Cities of Asylum,” and they aimed to protect not only freedom of speech and freedom of publication but also the physical safety of writers. There are now asylums in Las Vegas, Ithaca, and Pittsburg. Today, City of Asylum continues to provide sanctuary to endangered literary writers, so that they can continue to write and their voices are not silenced.