PEN International has set up an annual New Voices Award to encourage new writing in the countries in which they operate – now comprising 146 Centres spanning more than 100 countries – the award will actively encourage entries from diverse linguistic regions and communities.
Before PEN International was established in 1921, its founder, Catharine Amy Dawson Scott, set up the Tomorrow Club as a space for aspiring writers to network with more established writers. In 1928, Herman Ould, International Secretary, felt strongly that it was important for PEN to maintain focus on helping emerging writers, and so established a ‘Young PEN’ chapter.
The PEN International/New Voices Award builds on these ideas, simultaneously reconnecting with our past and moving into the future.
Open to unpublished writers aged 18-30, young writers had to be nominated by their local PEN Centre, and each entry had to be translated into both Spanish and French for submission.
Irish PEN are thrilled that the Irish entry, from 29 year old Elizabeth Reapy from Mayo, has been longlisted with five other stories for this prestigious prize. The winner will be announced at the PEN International Congress and the the winning writer will receive an award of $1,000 USD; the longlist of six writers will receive feedback on their entries from distinguished experts, and a shortlist of three writers will be invited to Congress to read their work, with expenses covered.
Elizabeth said of her entry: “I’m very honoured to be the Irish PEN representative for this award and must also thank Armel Dagorn and Soraya Sobrevia for their excellent translations of the piece into French and Spanish for the competition. ‘Between Dublins’ is a raw, non-fictional account of my life in between living in Dublin. I left Ireland two years ago, heartbroken and struggling with great loss – a loss of love, but also a complete loss of self. This account is broken into flash sections and each section represents a colour or mood. It’s inspired by my travels away, the people I met and significant experiences I had, good and bad, like working nights in an orange factory in the Australian outback or getting mugged at gunpoint in Buenos Aires. Mostly, it’s a story of finding self-acceptance and focus again through travelling solo and I hope it has a positive message.”
PEN International/New Voices Award 2013 longlist:
‘Between Dublins’ by Elizabeth Reapy (Irish PEN)
‘Carnet de Voyages/Travels Notebook’ by Emmanuel Lickel-Skiba (PEN Haïti)
‘Space’ by Masande Ntshanga (South African PEN)
‘Temporada de halcones/Falcon Season’ by José Pablo Salas (PEN Mexico)
‘The Collective Name for Ninjas’ by Claire Battershill (PEN Canada)
‘Turmstraße, o, Un amor sens còs/Turmstraße, or, A Love With No Body’ by Maëlle Dupon (PEN de Langue d’Oc [Occitan PEN])
Elizabeth has an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University, is a Pushcart Prize nominee and edits wordlegs.com. She is director of Shore Writers’ Festival in Enniscrone. In 2012, she was the Irish Exchange Writer to Varuna Writers’ House, Australia. She scored a no.1 Irish and Global Literature podcast in the iTunes chart with her short story ‘Getting Better,’ in May 2012. In 2013 she was awarded an Arts Council Literature Bursary for her debut collection. Her work has been published and performed nationally and internationally.
The six judges are a truly distinguished and international panel, reflecting the entries: Luisa Valenzuela, the author of over 20 books and a former journalist, was born and currently resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Sjón is an author who has published seven novels and numerous other poetry collections, and written plays, librettos and picture books for children and who curently lives in Reykjavík; Alain Mabanckou is a novelist, journalist, poet, and academic, a French citizen born in the Republic of the Congo, he is currently a Professor of Literature in the United States; Carole Blake founded her own literary agency, Blake Friedmann, in 1977 and lives in London; Bibi Bakare-Yusuf set up Cassava Republic Press in 2007 with the aim of stimulating a literary and reading culture in Nigeria and Hephzibah Anderson is a book columnist for Bloomberg Muse, a former fiction editor of the Daily Mail, she has reviewed widely for publications including the Observer and the New Statesman, and on BBC Radio.
Irish PEN and writing.ie wish Elizabeth the best of luck!