Serbian PEN Centre is an independent, autonomous part of International PEN, the London-based international organization of writers.
International PEN is a non-political, non-governmental organization, highly ranked among UNESCO members. It was established in London in 1921. Its members are writes from 91 countries. There are 144 International PEN Centers around the world, with equal membership rights.
The name PEN was generated from the English word "pen", whose three letters also represent an acronym of Poets, Essayists and Novelists - all of whom can become PEN members. There is also an "unofficial reading" of the PEN name, which was created during the 1937 International PEN Congress in Paris. In this version, PEN means Paix entre nous (Peace among us). Among the first honorary members of International PEN - proclaimed at the 14th Congress in Buenos Aires in 1936 - was Jovan Dučić, one of the most prominent Yugoslav authors of that era.
The Serbian PEN Center was established on Februay 25th, 1926. It was the first officially established PEN center in a country which was, at the time, known by the name of Yugoslavia.
The establishment of Serbian PEN in 1926. was initiated by Ivo Andrić, Milan Bogdanović, Milan Ćurčin, Miloš Crnjanski, Jovan Dučić, Miodrag Ibrovac, Vojislav Jovanović Marambo, Milan Kašanin, Gustav Krklec, Todor Manojlović, Marko Maletin, Veljko Milićević, Sibe Miličić, Veljko Petrović, Svetislav Petrović, Rastko Petrović, Bogdan Popović, Pavle Popović, Vladeta Popović, Isidora Sekulić, Svetislav Stefanović, Miloš Trivunac, Slobodan Jovanović, Ivo Vojnović, Dragiša Vasić, Aleksandar Vidaković, Stojan Živadinović and Oton Župančič.
Serbian PEN Center ceased all its activities as soon as the 1941 “April war” started in Serbia.
After a long, 20-year break (1941-1961), the Center resumed its activities on October 5th, 1962 under the name Yugoslav PEN – Belgrade Center, which was later renamed and again became the Serbian PEN center.
The initiator of Yugoslavia's “second membership” of International PEN was Ivo Andrić, the president of the Yugoslav Association of Writers at the time. He met up with the International PEN Secretary David Carter, in Venice in 1952, and that’s where it all (re)started.
The application for Yugoslav PEN's membership renewal in October 1962 was handed in by Milan Đoković, Miloš N. Đurić, Jovan Hristić, Erih Koš, Ivan V. Lalić, Dušan Matić, Tanasije Mladenović, Predrag Palavestra, Miodrag Pavlović and Veljko Petrović.
The Serbian PEN Center of today is a dedicated promoter of the values and ideas of International PEN, as well as their establishment in the Serbian society. It consistently supports literary and cultural communication of Serbian society with European and non-European countries and cultures. The Serbian PEN Center members have an intensive international cooperation, reflected in their work on many International PEN conferences, presence at large book fairs and literature festivals, as well as numerous book symposiums.
Serbian PEN Center is particularly active in the field of international promotion of Serbian literature and culture.
In 1965, the Center established a yearly award for the best foreign translation of Serbian literature.
In 2006, the first (bi-annual) Regional PEN Conference was held; over a short period of time, it gained a high level of influence among writers and many positive reactions from the public.
Every year, Serbian PEN publishes a Yearbook of Serbian Literature in English language.
Our publishing activities focus on highly representative anthologies of modern and contemporary Serbian literature (translated into English).
During the International PEN Congress in Tokyo (2010), the Serbian PEN Center and our capital Belgrade were chosen as hosts of the next International PEN Congress, which will be held in September 2011.
Presidents of the Serbian PEN Centre
Bogdan Popović (1926-1929)
Milan Grol (1929-1932)
Svetislav Stefanović (1932-1934)
Milan Rakić (1934-1938)
Isidora Sekulić (1939 – elected only)
Grigorije Božović (1940-1941)
Erih Koš (1962-1966)
Jara Ribnikar (1966-1980)
Vojislav Čolanović (1980-1982)
Boško Petrović (1982-1985)
Predrag Palavestra (1985-1989)
Miodrag Perišić (1989-1992)
Predrag Palavestra (1992-2000)
Jovan Hristić (2000-2002)
Vida Ognjenović (2003-to date)
Board Members of the Serbian PEN Centre
dr Predrag Palavestra
dr Mihajlo Pantić
dr Zoran Paunović
Neda Nikolić Bobić