regional PEN conferences
In 2006, the Serbian PEN Center decided to establish a bi-annual Regional PEN Conference in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.
This proposal immediately won full support of the International PEN headquarters in London; every second year since, a Regional PEN Conference has been held in Belgrade.
It is always organized and produced by the Serbian PEN Center, with help and support from our friends and colleagues from the Serbian cultural sphere.
The first ever Regional PEN Conference was held in September 2006, with an intriguing title: "The Challenge of Mediterranean Culture Today".
The main topic was the spirit of the Mediterranean region, reflected in its literature, but also an important issue which this part of Europe and the world is facing: the cultural exchange. The cultural exchange enables much better understanding among different nations, cultures and languages in the region.
These were the topics discussed in Belgrade over those few days. The discussions about Mediterranean culture were simultaneously translated into two official International PEN languages (English and French), and there was also an interesting Round Table panel.
The conference was attended not only by the representatives of the Mediterranean countries; there were also people from the Central and Eastern Europe, from the neighbouring states, as well as guests from the International PEN headquarters (as Serbian PEN celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2006).
Over the course of three days (October 5th-October 8th, 2006) we organized, among other things, a day trip to Novi Sad and Sremski Karlovci for all participants.
Our guests were PEN members from Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Italy, Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Galicia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Catalonia, Canada and Serbia.
There was also a special ceremony in Belgrade City Hall for Serbian PEN's 80th "birthday", during which we presented a special book about Serbian PEN Center to the public - Predrag Palavestra's "Serbian PEN: 1926-2006"
The conclusion of the conference was that the Mediterranean culture - despite the huge differences that exist between the nations living in the region - can be seen as one unique cultural heritage.
The aim was to bring all relevant subjects together in order to discuss the shape of future regional cooperation.
Between October 30th and November 3rd, 2008, the second Regional PEN Conference was held in Belgrade under the slogan "City as a Novel - Novel as a City".
The participants prepared several written reports on the main topic. There was also a Round Table discussion; all content was simultaneously translated into official PEN languages (English and French).
PEN representatives from several countries were accompanied by five "special guests" - all of them well-known, world famous writers: Orhan Pamuk (Turkey), Predrag Matvejević (Italy), Đerđ Konrad (Hungary), Ronald Harwood (United Kingdom) and Alek Popov (Bulgaria).
Several International literary evenings were held in Subotica, the Cultural Center of Belgrade and Haos gallery, all with major success.
One day was reserved for an excursion trip outside Belgrade. This Regional Conference was financially supported by the Serbian Ministry of Culture and the Cultural Department of Belgrade City Hall.
The Regional PEN Conference in October 2010 was titled "Memoirs - faction or fiction?"
As memoir literature has discreetly been gaining pace over the past couple of years, we at Serbian PEN thought a topic of this kind would attract a large number of writers and participants.
The introductiory speech was given by Mihajlo Pantić and Vladislav Bajac, vice-presidents of the Serbian PEN Center, and Gojko Božović, our board member.
As usual, there were numerous reports, discussions, panels and conversations on the main topic; with simultaneous interpretation of all content into official PEN languages, there was also a very lively discussion at the Round Table.
Besides around 20 PEN delegates from the region, we invited several representatives of International PEN from London to attend. They took the time to visit the buildings and conference halls in which the 77th International PEN Congress will be held in September 2011.
Alongside the "traditional" day trip outside the Serbian capital, an International Literary Evening was organized in Subotica, in the northern province of Vojvodina.
The Regional PEN Conference participants were also greeted by the Culture Secretary of Vojvodina and deputy mayor of Novi Sad (Vojvodina's capital city).