Writers for Peace

The Writers for Peace Committee explores the connection between writing and conflict and what the written word can do to build peace around the world.

Wherever there is conflict, upheaval and division, there is writing. Writers, whether they are novelists, poets, playwrights or journalists, help make sense of the world by holding up a mirror to it, allowing us to examine our actions as we do those of others. In a world mired in complexity and seemingly unending conflict, it is the clear, precise and poignant words of writers that help us navigate, form bonds with others and share  ideas with the world.

Chair: David Manderson

What we do

The Scottish PEN Writers for Peace Committee was reconstituted in 2018 to encourage debates on the role of writing to build peace and oppose conflict, at home and in other countries and to promote new writing on that topic. Over the last year, the committee has taken ‘Place and Peace’ as its banner, to explore the relationship between place, peace, identity and conflict in Scotland, the UK and Ireland, as well as the connection or tension between culture and borders in and beyond the UK.

During the many changes to the internal politics of the UK in 2020 and into the Corona-19 crisis, this has taken on added significance. To build conversation on these topics, the committee has run readings across Scotland and built partnerships with organisations including the Scottish Writers Centre, the Tron Theatre and the Wigtown Book Festival. Writers for Peace has run sold out performances and readings at the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, the Tron Theatre and the Wigtown Book Festival. Other readings have been held at locations including the Lighthouse Bookshop in Edinburgh.

Readers at these events to date include Rebecca Sharp, Jenni Calder, Colin Donati and Robin Mason, Ruth Aylett, Emma Doherty, David Manderson, Donal McLaughlin, Bernard MacLaverty, Ciara MacLaverty, Tracy Patrick, Graham Fulton and Nalini Paul.

If you are a Scottish PEN member and would like to join the committee or have an idea for an event or topic for the committee, please email info@scottishpen.org

Poetic Offensive event at Paisley Book Festival

On Tuesday 23rd February 2021, The Writers for Peace Committee hosted an event at Paisley Book Festival, featuring readings from Dave Manderson, Mario Relich, Ruth Aylett, Harry Josephine Giles and Leela Soma.

Watch the event here.

Read an event review here.

The Writers for Peace Committee supports the campaign to free the poet Ilhan Çomak

Scottish PEN Writers for Peace Committee has been invited to participate in the campaign for the release of imprisoned Kurdish writer Ilhan Sami Comak (pr. Chomak). lhan is Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner, having served 26 years of a life sentence. Ilhan was arrested in 1994 whilst studying geography at Istanbul University. After 19 days of continuous torture, Ilhan signed a statement saying that he had lit forest fires near Istanbul in the name of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Ilhan has always maintained his innocence. The statement signed under duress is the sole piece of evidence in his case.

This campaign, led by PEN Norway and Wales PEN Cymru, aims to draw attention to the injustice suffered by Ilhan and to put pressure on Turkish and UK politicians and officials for his release.

Scottish PEN members are urged to write to Ilhan, to protest to the Turkish ambassador to the UK and the Turkish minister for justice, and to urge British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to intervene in Ilhan’s case.

David Manderson, Chair, Writers for Peace Committee.

Take action: Resources

Campaign Booklet

Poetry as solidarity of the soul: Notes on the campaign of PEN Norway to free the poet Ilhan Çomak

Get involved instructions: Letter from PEN Norway – ‘Free the poet Ilhan Çomak’

Call and response poetry example: Caroline Stockford and Ilhan Çomak