by Pandora Longstreth
To mark this year’s Day of the Imprisoned Writer, English PEN has launched the e-book anthology ‘Time to Read’ – a collection of pieces written by writers at risk.
As well as supporting Day of the Imprisoned Writer, ‘Time to Read’ aims to raise awareness and address the issues surrounding the Books for Prisoners campaign. Former prisoners Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot member), Iryna Khalip (Belarusian journalist) and David Cecil (British theatre producer) are some of many contributors to the anthology. They write about the importance of reading in prisons in light of restrictions on sending books to prisoners introduced by the Ministry of Justice last year.
“The central message of the Books for Prisoners campaign is that books should not be seen as a privilege but as a necessity. For prisoners, books can be a calming influence in an otherwise chaotic environment. They can provide companionship at a very lonely time. A book can turn incarceration into a constructive and even creative experience.”
The e-book is available to download after subscribing to English PEN’s bulletin mailing list here. Alongside downloading the ‘Time to Read’ e-book, English PEN is` encouraging everyone to consider pledging to send a book to a writer at risk and to upload a photo of the chosen book to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #ImprisonedWriter and #DOIW and the handle @englishpen.