Writers and worldviews at KWH

“Writers Without Borders,” an International Writers Series championed by Penn Provost Ronald J. Daniels, launches April 15 at the Kelly Writers House.

The program will bring writers from across the globe—performance artists, journalists, poets, autobiographers, dramatists—to Penn to share their insights, ideas and worldviews with the University community.

Al Filreis, faculty director at Writers House, says Daniels encouraged and even pushed the House to do more with international writers. Engaging globally, the Provost says, is essential to understanding who we are in the world.

“It is writers and other artists who can help us all understand, in vivid and tangible ways, what it means to be global citizens in the 21st century,” says Daniels. “That is why this series will bring together Penn’s vital commitment to global engagement with the activism and inspiration of some of the world’s most compelling writers.”

Filreis says the plan is to feature writers who would never have come to Penn, for logistic or political reasons, and support writers working in difficult places that may lack freedom of the press.

Chilean poet, filmmaker and political activist Cecilia Vicuña will be the first Writers Without Borders visitor on April 15, at 6 p.m. at Writers House. Exiled from her homeland since the Augusto Pinochet regime of the 1970s and early 1980s, she has authored 16 books and her poetry has been translated into multiple languages.

Also a teacher and lecturer, Vicuña has held workshops and seminars for indigenous communities and universities. For her performance art, she toured four Latin American countries. She is currently co-editing an anthology of 500 years of Latin American poetry for Oxford University Press.

“Certainly, we at the Writers House admire the global, international bent” of the President’s and Provost’s offices, says Filreis. “We totally agree and this is our chance to affirm that.”

Originally published March 6, 2008.