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Working Day Keynote Addresses

April 28, 2011 | The Desmond Tutu Center Refectory | New York City

Keynote speakers: Anthony Appiah, Toni Morrison, Charles Norman, Dale Peck, John Ralston Saul, Vladimir Sorokin, G. M. Tamás, and Frank Westerman, with a message from Bard High School

LISTEN | Download the mp3

CLIPS: Salman Rushdie | John Lonergan | Toni Morrison | John Ralston Saul | G. M. Tamas | Dale Peck | Bard High School Part One | Bard High School Part Two

The Writer’s Imagination and the Imagination of the State:
Writers Respond to What’s Gone Wrong and How to Fix Things

In 1986, Norman Mailer, PEN American Center’s then-president, organized a legendary conference titled, The Writer’s Imagination and the Imagination of the State. In it, he asserted that not only did writers use their imaginations naturally and gracefully to speak to one another across national boundaries, but that governments, too, were capable of using their visions to improve the world’s troubles. To mark the 25th anniversary of this event, the PEN World Voices Festival held a Working Day to revisit similar questions while addressing urgent issues facing writer-intellectuals in 2011. This workshop began with a panel discussion, including keynote addresses. It was followed by five breakout sessions, each addressing topics related to how writers can respond to current predicaments and help find peaceful solutions. At the day’s end, the participants released a joint manifesto, drafted by one and signed by all—the first of its kind in the festival’s history.

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