Aminatta Forna is One of Nearly 100 Authors Gathering at the PEN America Emergency World Voices Congress of Writers
On May 10, 2022, PEN America published a press release convening the Emergency Congress of Writers in Response to the War in Ukraine and Other Global Crises, which announced the gathering of nearly 100 authors, including Aminatta Forna, at the United Nations to Weigh Free Expression and the Role of Writers Amid Upheaval, on May 13.
The Emergency World Voices Congress of Writers is a modern iteration of a historic PEN America-led conference, held at the 1939 World’s Fair and convened by legendary journalist and PEN America President Dorothy Thompson. At that meeting, international PEN president Jules Romains stated that writers are “an army without banners,” and suggested it was time for “the pen to fight the sword”— demanding writers take a stance against the atrocities unfolding in Europe.
The event was organized around two consequential questions: Amid all of the cascading crises we face right now, including the epidemic of distraction and diffusion of effort, what are the threats that most warrant our concentrated focus? What is the role of the writer in responding to the current crises, how well are we doing collectively to rise to the occasion and what more should writers do?
The event was live drawn by Liza Donnelly, writer, author, speaker, New Yorker cartoonist, and member of PEN America, who gave us permission to share her work: