Events Archive

To get an idea for what kinds of events we put on, browse our events archive here and find out about past readings, panel conversations and festival events.

Archive of Events

see upcoming events here

Day of the Dead

journalist-and-human-righ-009Tuesday, 1st November
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow

Raising awareness about the severely dangerous conditions that Mexican journalists write in.


We will be featuring a series of readings from the new book Sorrows of Mexico, published by Maclehose Press in August. The book collects articles by several journalists in Mexico, including Lydia Cacho for whom we campaign. The readings will be followed by an open mic session, which you can sign up to by emailing with ‘Mexico’ as a subject line. This event is kindly organised by Ruby McCann of the Scottish Writers’ Centre.

Scottish PEN at the Wigtown Book Festival


Saturday, 24 September 2016
Festival Marquee

The ‘Snooper’s Charter’: A Price Worth Paying

The Investigatory Powers Bill promises to give the security services and police unprecedented powers to intercept private communications. Is it a price to pay for fighting terrorism or, as critics allege, “snoopers’ charter” Where does the balance between security and privacy lie? In conversation: Duncan Campbell is an award-winning investigative reporter; Dorothy-Grace Elder is a journalist and former MSP; Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a former chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. Chaired by Nik Williams of Scottish PEN.

Scottish PEN presents… The Haystack

Wed, 17 August, 6.10pm // CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD

We are hosting a screening of The Haystack, a short documentary directed by the Screens of Reason that covers the Investigatory Powers Bill. Join us to learn about the pros and cons of the Bill and how privacy is tied to freedom of expression. Afterwards we will host a Q&A session with Joanna Cherry QC MP, Olivia Cappuccini (the film’s director and producer), Professor Lilian Edwards and David Irvine

Tickets are FREE! Book yours now.

Events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Part of Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

Saudi Arabia: Ashraf Fayadh and Raif Badawi – Sat 20 August, 5.30-6.15pm

Poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death in 2015 for apostasy. International pressure ensured the sentence was commuted but like blogger Raif Badawi, Ashraf still faces flogging and prison. Saudi Arabia beheads, imprisons or lashes citizens who dissent from the strict religious laws. Event is chaired by Jane Archer of Scottish PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee.

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India: Arundhati Roy – Sun 21 August, 5.30-6.15pm

Arundhati Roy faces trial for contempt of court after criticising the arrest of Delhi University lecturer Saibaba for ‘anti-national activities’. Roy is one of many Indian intellectuals under pressure from Prime Minister Modi’s government, and over 40 authors have returned awards in protest of the climate of intolerance. Event is chaired by Carl MacDougall, Scottish PEN’s Vice President.

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Scotland Stands With Raif Badawi

On behalf of Michael Russell MSP, Scottish PEN invites you to attend a reading of Raif Badawi’s work marking the fourth anniversary of his arrest.

Raif is a human rights campaigner from Saudi Arabia who has spoken out about free speech and secularism. He was charged in 2012 for insulting Islam on his blog. In 2013 he was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, which was later increased to ten years and 1000 lashes. He has so far received 50, and carried out multiple hunger strikes.

Join us in Scottish parliament to hear notable Scottish writers read extracts from Raif’s work and to celebrate the continued bravery of this man and his family.

PEN International, Amnesty International, and many other human rights organisations are campaigning to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to secure Badawi’s release. We will not rest until he is free.

The deadline to register for this event has now been extended until next Wednesday 29th June. Those wanting to turn up on the door are also welcome, although it will take longer to get into the event.

Non-members are welcome.


Where? Committee Room 2 – The Somerville Room – Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

When? Thursday, 30 June 2016 from 17:30 to 19:30

How much? Free but with limited space. Booking is essential. Please reserve tickets on Eventbrite.


eventbrite libraries


Libraries for Privacy: Digital Security Workshop

This workshop is available to all library staff including librarians, assistants and volunteers, archivists and other information professionals who work in public, academic or specialist libraries.

Libraries are a key resource for everyone: a repository of ideas, creativity, and diverse and challenging voices. They are also vital to their community, offering training and shared spaces in which users can learn, express themselves, and explore the world.

As part of Scottish PEN’s campaign to protect free expression in the digital age, we are excited to announce a workshop that will help libraries support users in strengthening their online privacy. This workshop has been developed in partnership with the Library Freedom Project, and is supported by CILIPS.

The aims of the workshop are to:

Because of the limited number of spaces available, we would ask that each participating library send a maximum of 2 delegates to participate in the workshop. This will ensure that we are able to offer this training to as many libraries as possible.

Please bring a laptop so you can take full advantage of the hands-on training provided.

Where? Glasgow Women’s Library – 23 Landressy Street, Glasgow, G40 1BP

When? Friday, 8 July 2016 from 12:00 to 16:00

How much? Free but with limited space. Booking is essential. Please reserve tickets on Eventbrite.

International Women’s Day: Dangerous Women Symposium

A one-day symposium to mark International Women’s Day, exploring in fiction and fact women identified as dangerous, creatively, socially and politically. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


Where? Institute for Advanced Studies in the
Humanities, The University of Edinburgh, Hope Park Square, EH8 9NW

When? Friday 11 March 2016 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM

How much? Free but with limited space. Booking is essential. Please reserve tickets on Eventbrite.


StAnza 2016: Imprisoned Poets’ Reading

Short readings from the work of imprisoned poet Ashraf Fayadh who has been denied the opportunity to read his work. Presented by Brian Johnstone from Scottish PEN. Although his death sentence has recently been overturned, Fayadh still faces an 8 year prison sentence and 800 lashes. At this event Jo Shapcott and Andrew McMillan will read from Ashraf Fayadh’s poems and Drew Campbell, President of Scottish PEN, will say a few words about the campaign.

Jo Shapcott is a two-times winner of the National Poetry Competition, and winner of the Commonwealth Prize (1998). She was also awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2011. Shapcott is nationally recognised for collaborating with musicians to create cross-disciplinary pieces and for translating German poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry.

Andrew McMillan writes deeply personal and confessional poetry that he hopes will resonate with other people. He is the winner of the 2015 Guardian Book Prize (and only the second poet to reach the shortlist), and was shortlisted for the Forward Arts Foundation’s Best First Collection Prize.


Where? The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street – Studio Theatre, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9LA

When? Saturday 5 March 19:10 – 19:40 PM

How much? Free


Worldwide Reading in support of Ashraf Fayadh

Scottish PEN are joining the international literature festival Berlin (ilb)’s call on all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about justice and freedom to participate in a worldwide reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh, on 14 January 2016.

Ashraf Fayadh, a 35 year-old Palestinian poet and art curator, who lives in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death by a Saudi court on 17 November 2015 for the “crime” of apostasy. He was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial.

For more information, visit the Worldwide Reading website here or read an article on the international appeal for the poet’s release here.


Where? Clutha Bar, 167-169 Stockwell St, Glasgow G1 4SP

When? Thursday, 14 January, 7.00pm

In addition to reading Ashraf Fayadh’s work, Katie Ailes will be headlining an open mic of poems showing support for the poet.


Where? Scottish Poetry Library, 5 Crichton’s Cl, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DT

When? Thursday, 14 January, 5.30pm

Christine de Luca, Jenny Lindsay and Rachel McCrum will be reading poetry by Ashraf Fayadh. Visit the event’s Facebook page here.


Where? The Blue Lamp, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen AB25 1BU

When? Thursday, 14 January, 7.30pm (for 8.00pm)

Bring a poem and contribute to a poemathon! Please contact Ian Crockatt for details: 01261 851693

Day of the Imprisoned Writer

Thursday, 12th of November 2015, 1pm

University of Glasgow Room 101, 5 University Gardens, Glasgow G12 8QQ

AND University of Edinburgh, 50 George Square, G.03 Lecture Theatre

Edinburgh EH8 9JU – Join the Facebook event!

Each year, PEN Centres and members worldwide commemorate the Day of the Imprisoned Writer to raise awareness of the unjust imprisonment and other forms of attack against writers around the globe, to remember those who have been killed, and stand in solidarity with imprisoned and threatened colleagues.

Scottish PEN are marking this year’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer with a reading focused on free speech in Saudi Arabia, which will take place from 1-2pm on Thursday, 12th of November, at both the University of Glasgow (exact place to be confirmed) and at the University of Edinburgh, 50 George Square, Lecture Theatre G.03. We will be reading extracts of Raif Badawi and Hamza Kasgari’s writing.

Raif Badawi is a Saudi Arabian writer, activist and blogger. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine.

Hamza Kasgari is a Saudi Arabian poet and former columnist for the daily newspaper al-Bilad. He was jailed for two years without trial for posting three tweets to the prophet Mohammed.

Ali Mohammed al-Nimr is a 21 year old Saudi Arabian student who has been sentenced to death for taking part in Arab Spring protests as a teenager. The sentence is beheading followed by crucifixion.

‘November 15 is a day of action and acknowledgement,’ said Marian Botsford Fraser, former Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee. ‘It is PEN’s way of saying to all of our 900 imprisoned, harassed, murdered and disappeared writers: you are not silenced. You are not forgotten. We stand with you and fight for you.’

Naomi Mitchison Lecture 2015

Val McDermid and Professor Louise Welsh

Please join us at this year’s Naomi Mitchison Event – Val McDermid in conversation with Professor Louise Welsh.

New Scottish PEN member Val McDermid’s novels have been translated into thirty languages and have sold over ten million copies worldwide. Her work has been adapted for television and radio and her many awards include the Cartier Diamond Dagger, awarded by the Crime Writers’ Association to authors who have made an outstanding lifetime’s contribution to the genre. Val has also written non-fiction books, notably ‘Forensics €“ The Anatomy of Crime’ in association with The Wellcome Collection. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear one of the most successful writers of her generation talk about her craft and research. Each year University of Glasgow’s Creative Writing Programme and Scottish PEN invite a woman writer working at the top of their field to educate (and entertain) us for an evening. Please do come along and join in an evening of crime and conversation.

Scottish PEN, which fights for the rights of writers world-wide, sponsors this lecture in the memory of Naomi Mitchison.

Day of the Dead

Monday, 2nd of November, 5.30pm Glasgow Room, Mitchell Library

North St, Glasgow G3 7DN

‘Day of the Dead – Courage in the Name of Freedom of Expression’

Hosted by Journalist and Author: Jean Rafferty of Scottish PEN

Scottish PEN in partnership with the Scottish Writers’ Centre are collaborating in a remembrance event to honour ‘Courageous Writers’ who are no longer with us.

We’re celebrating the Day of the Dead to honour ‘Absent Friends’ and commemorate the courage of writers, poets, and journalists living and working in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for expressing the right to freedom of expression.

We will be reading from the works of Mexican writers, followed by an open mic for those who want to read their own reaction to those who are killed and imprisoned for their right to freedom of expression. The theme of your submission is ‘Mexico or Courage in speaking out.’ This is open to interpretation.

Dundee Literary Festival

Saturday, 24th of November, 6.30pmBonar Hall, University of Dundee

Dundee City DD1 1PB

‘Comics vs Freedom’ with Sepideh Jodeyri and Karrie Fransman, in conversation with Canan Marasligil

Join poet, literary critic and translator Sepideh Jodeyri and graphic novel and comic artist Karrie Fransman in a conversation about free speech, LGBTQ rights and the power of comics to transcend cultural boundaries.

Last year, Karrie Fransman’s comic
Over Under Sideways Down detailing an Iranian refugee’s story was published, a powerful example of the impact of illustrations and words. When Sepideh Jodeyri translated a graphic novel herself, Julie Maroh’s Blue is the Warmest Colour, she became the target of the conservative press of Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by 100 lashes or, at worst, death.

Canan Marasligil is a writer, translator and editor.

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 – Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series

Chaired by Scottish PEN:

Saturday, 22nd of August

In Memory of Armenia with readings by Brenton McKenna, Alison Case, Stewart O’Nan and Moira Young17:30-18:15pm – free tickets available from box office on the day

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Sunday, 23rd of August

Tunisia, Enemies of the State with readings by Emma Shevah and Michael Newton17:30-18:15pm – free tickets available from box office on the day

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Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 – Events featuring Scottish PEN members

Saturday, 15th of August: Tom Pow, Jennifer Williams, Vivian French, Julia Donaldson, James Robertson and Kirstin Innes

Tom Pow: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst & Tom Pow – Two Timeless Literary Legends 11:00-12:00 – £10/£8

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Jennifer Williams: Nothing But The Poem on Naomi Shibab Nye – Reading Workshop 11:00-12:30 – £15/£12

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Vivian French: Knight in Training with Vivian French & David Melling 14:00-15:00 – £4.50

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Julia Donaldson and James Robertson: Translating Julia 15:15-16:15 – £4.50

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James Robertson: Reading the City: Leafing Through the Streets 19:15-20:15 – SOLD OUT!

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Kirstin Innes: Kirstin Innes & Meldina Dadj: Dealing with Workers Writes 20:45-21:45 – £7/£5

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Monday, 17th of August: Vivian French and Joan Lennon

Vivian French: Are You Sitting Comfortably? 10:00-10:30 – SOLD OUT!

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Joan Lennon: Silver Skins and Wild Wolves with Joan Lennon and Katherine Rundell

14:00-15:00 – £4.50

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Tuesday, 18th of August: Alexander McCall Smith and Julia Donaldson

Alexander McCall Smith: A Love Affair with Edinburgh

18:45-19:45 – SOLD OUT!

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Julia Donaldson: Julia Donaldson & Peter May – Bestselling Books Abroad

19:00-20:00 – SOLD OUT!

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Wednesday, 19th of August: Alexander McCall Smith and David Kinloch

Alexander McCall Smith: Edward Mendelson with Alexander McCall Smith – Why W H Auden Still Matters 14:00-15:00 – £10/£8

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David Kinloch: “Adam Could Have Said ‘No Thanks’”

15:30-16:30 – SOLD OUT!

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Thursday, 20th of August: James McGonigal, Robyn Marsack, Ron Butlin, Valerie Gillies, David Kinloch, Diana Hendry, Christine de Luca, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin and Julia Donaldson

James McGonigal: John Coyle & James McGonigal – Our Letters are Like Elephants’ Memories

10:30-11:30 – £7/£5

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Robyn Marsack: Robyn Marsack on Eugene Onegin

11:00-12:30 – £15/£12

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Ron Butlin & Valerie Gillies: Seeing Scotland in Verse

12:15-13:15 – £7/£5

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Diana Hendry: Writing Pushkin

17:00-18:00 – £4.50

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Christine de Luca: Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series: North Korea: Escape from Starvation

17:30-18:15 – FREE (tickets available on the day)

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Alexander McCall Smith: Making the World Feel Better

18:45-19:45 – SOLD OUT!

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Ian Rankin: Richard Havers with Ian Rankin: Words and Music: Setting the New Jazz Standards

20:45-21:45 – £10/£8

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Julia Donaldson: Jura Unbound: Squash and a Squeeze with the Donaldsons21:00-23:00 – Free & Drop-In

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Friday, 21st of August: Jennifer Williams, Alexander McCall Smith and Leila Aboulela

Jennifer Williams: Nothing But the Poem on Poetry in Translation: Reading Workshop

11:00-12:30 – SOLD OUT!

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Alexander McCall Smith: Gloriously Heart-Warming Tales

13:30-14:30 – £10/£8

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Robyn Marsack: Libraries in the Digital Age: Spaces for Literacy

15:45-16:45 – £10/£8

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Leila Aboulela: Leila Aboulela & Alessandro Gallenzi – When History and Present Overlap

17:00-18:00 – £7/£5

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Saturday, 22nd of August

Louise Welsh: M R Carey & Louise Welsh: Thrillers that Grip You by the Throat 20:45-21:45 – £10/£8

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Sunday, 23rd of August: Lesley Riddoch, James Robertson and Ian Rankin

Lesley Riddoch: Why Scotland Will Flourish

13:30-14:30 – SOLD OUT!

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James Robertson: The World in 365 Words

17:00-18:00 – £10/£8

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Ian Rankin: Viv Albertine with Ian Rankin: Words and Music: Memoirs of a Punk Rocker 20:15-21:15 – £10/£8

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Monday, 24th of August: Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin: Rebus is Back

20:15-21:15 – SOLD OUT!

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Tuesday, 25th of August: Karen Campbell, Ian Rankin and Ricky Brown

Karen Campbell: Karen Campbell & Peter Stamm: Can We Ever Escape from Ourselves?

10:15-11:15 – £10/£8

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Ian Rankin: Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell with Ian Rankin: Words and Music: The Sheer Joy of Being Alive

15:15-16:15 – £10/£8

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Ricky Brown: Jura Unbound: Happily Never After feat. Illicit Ink 21:00-23:00 – Free & Drop-In

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Thursday, 27th of August: William McIlvanney and Elizabeth Laird

William McIlvanney: The Poetry in Everyday Scottish Lives

18:45-19:45 – £10/£8

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Elizabeth Laird: Best of the Brits: Celebrating Our Young Adult Fiction: Rich and Diverse Fiction

19:00-20:15 – £7/£5

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Friday, 28th of August: Andrew O’Hagan and Ian Rankin

Andrew O’Hagan: When a Soldier Comes Home

11:45-12:45 – £10/£8

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Ian Rankin: Stuart David with Ian Rankin: Words and Music: Strut of the Indie Peacocks

21:45-22:45 – £10/£8

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Saturday, 29th of August: Anna Crowe, Jennifer Williams, Christine de Luca and Ian Rankin

Anna Crowe & Jennifer Williams: Innu Poetry from the Canadian Tundra: From Innu-aimun to Scots

11:00-12:00 – £10/£8

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Christine de Luca: Christine de Luca & Catriona MacDonald: Finnish National Story Translated into Scots

19:30-21:0 – £12/£10

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Ian Rankin: Alan Cumming with Ian Rankin: Words and Music: From Aberfeldy to Broadway

20:15-21:15 – SOLD OUT!

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Sunday, 30th of August: Christopher Brookmyre, Jo Clifford, Andrew O’Hagan and Jenny Lindsay

Christopher Brookmyre, Jo Clifford and Andrew O’Hagan: Why I Call Myself a Feminist: a Rally, a Rant, a Story, a Song, a Protest, a Poem – The Female Gaze

20:45-21:45 – SOLD OUT!

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Jenny Lindsay: Jura Unbound: Rally & Broad: The Interpretation Edition 21:00-23:00 – Free & Drop-In

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Monday, 31st of August: Vivan French, Aonghas MacNeacail and Christopher Brookmyre

Vivian French: Comic Consequences

17:30-18:30 – £4.50

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Aonghas MacNeacail: Kevin MacNeil: Travelling to Discover Home 19:00-20:00 – £7/£5

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Christopher Brookmyre: The More You Have, The More You Have To Lose

20:15-21:15 – £10/£8

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Aye Write – Glasgow’s Book Festival

Find out more about Aye Write on
their website here.

Are we still Charlie?: 19 April 2015, 13:30-14:30 / £9

We invited award-winning writer Denise Mina, criminal defence solicitor and human rights campaigner Aamer Anwar, Commonspace editor Angela Haggerty and cartoonist, journalist and best-selling author Chris Cairns to talk about freedom of expression, censorship and self-censorship in the wake of January’s Charlie Hebdo shootings.

To find out more about the event, you can see pictures below, and watch the full
video from our previous Charlie Hebdo event in February (featuring Joyce McMillan, Alan Bissett and Greg Moodie, also chaired by Drew Campbell).

To find out more about our panelists, listen to our International Women’s Day interview with Denise Mina
here, and read the panelists’s Tweets at @DameDeniseMina, @AamerAnwar, @AngelaHaggerty and @cairnstoon.

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Centenary of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian Whispers: Reading by Louise Welsh, James Kelman and Drew Campbell – 21 April 2015, 6pm, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (McCance Building, MC319)

One hundred years after the horrific events of the Armenian Genocide, people around the world are coming together to read texts by some of the writers involved, to remember them and raise awareness of these events that still aren’t recognised by all nations around the world.

Louise Welsh, James Kelman and Drew Campbell will read from “The Book of Whispers” by Varujan Vosganian, followed by an open discussion about freedom of expression in Turkey.

This event is free. However, space in the venue is limited, so to ensure you get a seat you can
book your free ticket here!

Aye Write – Events featuring Scottish PEN members

Friday, 17th of April: Chris Dolan, Christopher Brookmyre, Louise Welsh and Alan Bissett

Ann Cleeves & Chris Dolan:
Is Crime Fiction better on the Page or the Small Screen? 18:00-19:00 / £9

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Christopher Brookmyre, Louise Welsh, Alan Bissett & Jim Carruth:
There’s Only One Aye Write 21:00-22:00 / £9

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Saturday, 18th of April: Alan Bissett

Alan Bissett:
Greatest Theatrical Hits 15:00-16:00 / £9

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Sunday, 19th of April: Drew Campbell, William McIlvanney, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, Robyn Marsack and Anne Donovan

Scottish PEN:
Are we still Charlie? 13:30-14:30 / £9

Denise Mina, Aamer Anwar, Angela Haggerty and Greg Moodie, chaired by Drew Campbell

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Fred MacAulay, Melanie Reid, William McIlvanney & Helen FitzGerald:
My Dog, My Friend 13:30-14:30 / £9

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Caro Ramsay, Quintin Jardine & Helen Fitzgerald:
Tartan Noir. Chaired by Len Wanner 15:00-16:00 / £9

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Ian Rankin:
Rebus in Gaelic 16:30-17:30 / £9

Ian Rankin and Gillebride MacMillan

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Jim Carruth:
Killochries 16:30-17:30 / £9

Chaired by Robyn Marsack, Scottish Poetry Library

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Michel Faber:
The Book of Strange New Things 18:00-19:00 / £9

Chaired by Anne Donovan

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Monday, 20th of April: Ron Ferguson and Alan Bissett

Ron Ferguson, Aidan Smith, Alan Bissett & Stuart Donald:
The State of the Scottish Football Nation 18:00-19:00 / £9

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Wednesday, 22nd of April: Chris Dolan and Magnus Linklater

Radio Drama Masterclass 10:00-11:30 / £15

Bruce Young and Chris Dolan

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Writing Television Drama 12:00-13:30 / £15

Ann Marie di Mambro and Chris Dolan

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Gordon Kerr:
A Short History of the Vietnam War 18:00-19:00 / £9

Chaired by Magnus Linklater

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Thursday, 23rd of April: Karen Campbell, Fiona Rintoul and Zoë Strachan

Karen Campbell and Fiona Rintoul:
Glasgow University MLitt – The First 20 Years 18:00-19:00 / £9

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Jackie Kay, Allan Radcliffe & Kerry Hudson:
Out There – Scottish LGBT Writing 18:00-19:00 / £9

Edited by Zoë Strachan

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Friday, 24th of April: Brian Johnstone and Alexander McCall Smith

Richard Havers & Trio Verso:
The History of Blue Note 19:30-20:30 / £9

Richard Havers, Brian Johnstone, Richard Ingham and Louise Major, chaired by Keith Bruce

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Alexander McCall Smith:
In Conversation with Stuart Kelly 19:30-20:30 / £9

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Saturday, 25th of April: Aonghas MacNeacail

Shore to Shore Cladach gu Cladach 19:30-20:30 / £9

Aonghas MacNeacail, Babs NicGriogair, Alasdair Whyte and Kevin MacNeil

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International Women’s Day “Women on the Edge” 6 March 2015

A one-day colloquium to mark International Women’s Day featuring Linda Cracknell, Jenni Fagan, Sara Maitland, Denise Mina, Elizabeth Reeder and Cynthia Rogerson. Listen to our interviews with the participating writers
here and read co-organiser Jenni Calder’s report on the event here.

Are we still Charlie? 20 February 2015

A panel discussion on censorship, self-censorship and freedom of expression in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, chaired by Scottish PEN president Drew Campbell, featuring cartoonist Greg Moodie, journalist Joyce McMillan, and author and playwright Alan Bissett.

The event was filmed by the fantastic team at
Summerhall TV. Watch the full video here.

Pictures taken by Ardie Collins; find them on
Facebook here.

Writing and the Stranger by Zoe Wicomb November 20, 2014

The Naomi Mitchison Memorial Lecture is hosted annually by Scottish PEN and the Edwin Morgan Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. This year the lecture will be presented by award-winning author Zoe Wicomb. She is a South African author living in Glasgow and will read from her latest novel October.

In ‘Writing and the Stranger’ Wicomb will consider some of the ways in which foreignness is figured in writing as well as the strangeness inherent in the aesthetic experience. She will revisit her own views on setting fictions in a foreign country. The evening will be chaired by Louise Welsh.

Banned Book Club: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow November 28, 2014

Challenged by a Florida school for questioning authority and lauding hacker culture, Cory Doctorow’s novel Little Brother is the focus of our book-group, led by Cory himself. Join us for a friendly discussion about freedom of expression at home, online and internationally. Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger. He has made the book available for free download

Banned Book Club: Edwin Morgan’s Stobhill by Claire Askew November 28, 2014

Edwin Morgan was the first Scots Makar, and previously Glasgow’s Poet Laureate. He was an important voice in the Scottish Renaissance, but despite his stature, he was no stranger to controversy. In the early ’90s a sequence of his poems dealing with rape and abortion, Stobhill, were the subject of a campaign to have them banned. Campaigners demanded the poems be removed from schools because they were “pornographic and licentious”. The book group discussion will focus on the ideas behind the poems and the attempted censorship of his work. It will be led by Claire Askew, a poet and feminist and recently the runner-up for the 2014 Edwin Morgan Poetry Prize.

A Bird is Not a Stone: Translating Palestinian Poetry

A Bird is not a Stone is an anthology of contemporary Palestinian poetry translated by Scottish poets. Join us for readings from the anthology by Edinburgh Makar Christine De Luca and Abla Oudeh, who will read the original Arabic. Discussion afterwards with co-editor Sarah Irving. Hosted in partnership with the University of Edinburgh Literature Society.

2014 Commonwealth Culture Programme

A series of free evening literature events by Scottish PEN which unites Commonwealth and Scottish writers along the route of the Queens Baton Relay across Scotland. Every event will examine a movement in Commonwealth history and allow the authors to discuss their relative works. This project is supported by the 2014 Commonwealth Games Culture funding from Creative Scotland.

Freedom of Expression and Modern Censorship April 2014

Panel discussion at the AyeWrite Festival in Glasgow with Scottish journalist Derek Bateman, President of South African PEN Margie Orford, Anne Enright of Irish PEN and Anders Heger of Norwegian PEN.