The first discussions for the establishment of PEN GREECE started in March 2019, on the occasion of an important conference on “The present and the future of Greek literature abroad”, organized by the literary magazine Literature.gr in collaboration with the Organization of UNESCO World Book Capital of the Municipality of Athens. The conclusions of the conference, which was attended by 25 translators and Hellenists from 22 countries, were presented at a special event hosted by the 16th Thessaloniki International Book Fair.
Greece was one of the few countries where there was no official PEN International branch. This fact, in combination with the other problems identified in terms of the effective promotion of Greek literature – and Greek book in general – abroad, led to the creation of a team that took the initiative to establish PEN Greece and consists of: Christos Oikonomou, Erifili Maroniti, Dimitris Sotakis, Dina Sarakinou, TessyBaila, Panina Karydi and Lina Pantaleon, members of the interim administration today. The next step was the formation of the PEN GREECE Founding Team, which includes novelists, poets, publishers and people of the book.
It’s has been a hundred years after PEN International was founded in London and now it’s time for Greece to be a part of the global network of writers, publishers, readers, literary critics, translators, editors, creators of literature in general, that has been formed in order to celebrate literature worldwide. Greece is now one of the very few European countries where PEN is not operational. Therefore it is now a demand for establishing PEN GREECE. (Christos Ikonomou)
A demand that meets our need for the creation of a flexible organization, actually an active and effective one that will try to encourage and protect literature in Greece. An organization that in line with the principles of the PEN International would fight for preserving the values and the History of the Greek literature in the global linguistic diversity, emphasizing on the role of literature in the development of the world culture. (Erifili Maroniti)
As the Greek creators will join this great network of culture people all over the world, will have the chance to meet and estimate its quality. The Greek pen will be able to promote Greek Literature and find ways to inform its members about translation programs, literary festivals, awards and collective projects. The spread of Greek literature to the world will be a great goal. (Dina Sarakinou)
A goal that not only show to foreign writers, publishers and readers the possibilities and horizons of Greek literature, but will also enrich the way of thinking of Greek writers themselves. PEN Greece will be a perfect means of being part in a universal literary communication and a great chance to achieve something altogether. (Dimitris Sotakis)
As without freedom there can be no meaningful and instrumental literature, opening the horizons means that literary creators of Greece, for the first time, will have the power to defend the freedom of expression and the pluralism of speech without any possible distinction. Writers whose voice remains silenced or be at risk will have an essential supporter in their struggle as PEN Greece opposes any attempts to restrict or abolish this fundamental right. (Panina Karydi)
So, it’s time for Greece to set up its own PEN according to the fundamental values of PEN International. It is time for the active connection of them with the majority of the creators nationwide. This connection will lead to the evaluation of the Greek linguistic diversity and consequently to the preservation of it driving people to discover the beauty that surrounds this global union and the revolutionary power of it. (Lina Pantaleon)
Because literature has always been an essential form of revolution. And this revolution can only be achieved through a unique celebration of literary education. Unification, supportiveness and solidarity will stimulate the connection of the Greek writers with the writers across borders and lead to a new literary challenge for Greece. In other words the time has finally come for the new era in the Greek literature. It is time for PEN Greece. (Tessy Baila)
After coordinated efforts that lasted a year and a half, during which the interim administration of PEN GREECE was in constant contact with PEN International, the creation of PEN Greece was approved at the International Conference of PEN International 2020 and now PEN Greece is established. Its establishment was officially announced in the context of the 17th Thessaloniki International Book Fair.