Located on Whadjuk land in Perth, Western Australia, PEN Perth is one chapter of PEN International. PEN International is a non-profit organisation that works at the intersection of writing and politics. In particular, we campaign for the release of wrongfully imprisoned writers and advocate for the responsible freedom of expression. PEN International was started in London in 1921 and now has one hundred and fifty centres around the world including three in Australia and many more in our region.
PEN Perth is active on local and international issues. This includes questions of Indigenous incarceration, refugee detention, and a free press. We are a broad-minded group with active members from across the political spectrum who work together for a better society. Our activities include letter writing campaigns; talks, conversations and lectures; fundraising events including dinners, bake sales and movie screenings; and attendance of meetings here and overseas. PEN Perth aims to raise the consciousness of the public and encourage a world where writers are free to express themselves, responsibly and respectfully.
Patron and Honorary Member: Peter Greste
Sydney-born PETER GRESTE is an internationally recognised journalist concerned with questions of politics, media freedom and war. He has worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. For his work on media freedom and human rights, he has won awards from the Walkley Foundation, the RSL’s ANZAC Peace Prize, and the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Medal. He is the author of The First Casualtypublished by Penguin. PEN International helped work for Peter’s release from an Egyptian prison where he was incarcerated in 2013 for reporting that was ‘damaging to national security’. In 2018, he commenced his position as UNESCO Chair in Journalism and Communications at the University of Queensland.
Robert Wood (Chair)
Robert Wood is interested in media freedom, regional politics, and incarceration. He is the author of History & The Poet, has been an Endeavour Research Fellow at Columbia University, and was a Faculty Member of The School of Life. He has edited for Overland, Peril and Cordite, was a Copyright Agency Emerging Critic with the Sydney Review of Books, and has worked for The Small Press Network, Australian Poetry and The Centre for Stories. Visit Robert's website...
Karen Escobar (Events Coordinator)
Karen Escobar migrated to Australia when she was nine, and has live in Indonesia and Chile since, becoming an Australian citizen in 2012. Having finished high school in 2015 and currently doing a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts (Major Journalism) in the University of Notre Dame Fremantle, she aspires to practice law upon graduation, with a public service focus. As part of her journalism degree she has profiled politicians during the 2016 races, written stories on up-and-coming artists in the Fremantle area and become involved with the Centre for Stories in Northbridge.
Kelly Fliedner (Communications)
Kelly Fliedner is a writer, curator and designer who makes podcasts, and writes fiction, art history and art criticism. Her current research is, in a broad sense, interested in the discourses of postcolonialism and decolonisation as they manifest in, and are related to, contemporary art of India. Visit Kelly's website...
Dennis Haskell (Secretary)
Emeritus Professor Dennis Haskell is a poet and literary essayist; he is the author or editor of 24 books, and a member of the Order of Australia for services to literature, education and intercultural understanding. Dennis was President of Perth PEN in its previous incarnation; his other past committee roles include Chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council and Chair of writingWA.
Marcella Polain (Writers in Prison Coordinator)
Marcella Polain arrived in Australia at the age of two with her Irish father and Armenian mother. She writes poetry, narrative fiction and lyric essays. Her work has won awards and been published internationally and in translation. Her first novel, The Edge of the World, is based on her family's survival of the Armenian Genocide and was short-listed for a Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her forthcoming novel is Driving into the Sun (2019, Fremantle Press). She is Senior Lecturer in Writing at Edith Cowan University.
Rosemary Sayer is a writer and former journalist. She has written three non-fiction books and is currently completing a PhD at Curtin University which explores her dual interests in writing and human rights. Rosemary also works as a sessional lecturer and tutor at Curtin and as a research assistant at the University’s Centre for Human Rights Education. She serves on the board of the Edmund Rice Centre, a not for profit organisation that helps people from refugee and other migrant backgrounds as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. She has served as a director on many boards in Australia and overseas including the Hong Kong International Literary Festival and writingWA.
Caroline Wood (Deputy Chair)
Caroline Wood is Co-Founder and Director of the Centre for Stories and Margaret River Press. She has held senior management positions in the private sector and universities. She served on Board of the Small Publishers Network and Amnesty International (Australia), was President of the WA Branch of Amnesty International and convened Amnesty’s first Stop Violence Against Women’s International Conference. She is also the Co-Founder of the Australian Short Story Festival.