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PEN America Blog

September 15, 2014

There wasn’t a minute to lose. All about them people were beginning to whisper. The whispers became murmurs, the murmurs a hubbub, the hubbub an outcry, and the outcry the roar and riot of a thousand feet.

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September 11, 2014

The first cop told him to go to the checkpoint one block east of here and he did this and there were military police and troops in Humvees and a convoy of dump trucks and sanitation sweepers moving south through the parted sawhorse barriers.

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September 10, 2014

Blood moon whoever / calls you this lived stupidly / forgets god yearning

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September 9, 2014

My mother is the goddess of the seas. My fetus still floats in her womb. Perhaps I am a goddess, too. My mother guides the waves and the whirlpools. She guides the ships to shore … the fogs to the sky.

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September 9, 2014

After hearing from readers who told me how the book touched and influenced them, I realized that what I say does have an impact. Of course, I need to write as truthfully and deeply as I know how, but there are moments when a book can give hope to someone in despair, and I am aware of that possibility.

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September 8, 2014

NEW YORK—PEN American Center announced today that author Louise Erdrich will receive the 2014 PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. Established in memory of Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow, the $25,000 award is presented biannually to a living American author whose scale of achievement in fiction, over a sustained career, places him or her in the highest rank of American literature. 

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September 5, 2014

In Afghanistan, where four-fifths of the population is illiterate, poetry has always had a strong position—especially among women. The Afghan writer and journalist Nushin Arbabzadah writes here a letter to the poet and Princess Rabia Balkhi, who lived in the 900's and faced a tragic fate: she fell in love with a slave and was imprisoned by her own brother because of it. She wrote her most famous poem in prison right before she died. She wrote it on the wall with her own blood.

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September 3, 2014

Norman Mailer’s New York City is long gone, the artists are fleeing to New Jersey, and PEN American Center—whose work had been championed by Grace Paley, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin and Arthur Miller, to name a few—just turned 93. Who are the heirs of PEN’s literary greats?

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September 3, 2014

I don’t mean that vocabulary is arbitrary, but rather that artistic intent can manifest itself—can thrive, even—in the absence of an infinitude of possibilities, in the absence of total control.

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September 2, 2014

My obsession is to get it right, plot, characters, atmosphere, logic. I never go to sleep without figuring out what I will write tomorrow.

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