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.
Michelle Michau-Crawford (Committee Member)
Michelle Michau-Crawford’s research and writing is informed by broad-ranging questions around memory, identity, and community and social connectedness. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has been published online and in print in Australia and internationally. She has won and been shortlisted in various writing prizes, most recently winning the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize in 2013 for her story Leaving Elvis. Her debut book of fiction Leaving Elvis and Other Stories was published in 2016. She is currently developing her second book of fiction. For further bio information visit website: michellemichaucrawford.com
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.
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.
Christopher Lin (Committee Member)
Christopher Lin migrated to Australia at the age of seven from Myanmar, and is of Karen ethnic heritage. He completed his PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia, writing on the aesthetics of moving bodies in contemporary screen and print narratives. He has worked in numerous roles across the university in teaching, academic program coordination, and curriculum management. He has interviewed writers at local literary events and recently curated the ‘Spotlight on Burma’ for PEN Perth as part of the 2019 Perth Writers Festival.
Dan Midalia (Treasurer)
Dan Midalia has been a Commonwealth and State public servant for over thirty five years, working mostly in the archives, records management and statistics sectors. He is the author of Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records (2000). For several years, he worked as an independent researcher and assisted with the collation of data for the Bibliography of Australian Literature and the AustLit database. He has a long-held interest in social activism.