PEN World Voices Festival

This annual gathering, which was founded in 2005, brings together writers and artists from around the globe. The theme this year is bravery. The festival starts on April 29, with readings by A. Igoni Barrett, Joy Harjo, Jamaica Kincaid, Ursula Krechel, Earl Lovelace, Pierre Michon, and others, at Cooper Union’s Great Hall. Among the many events: The writer Colm Tóibín, the actress Fiona Shaw, and the director Deborah Warner will discuss their new Broadway play, “The Testament of Mary.” A seminar on aesthetic, political, and sexual bravery in poetry (featuring Mary Karr on Zbigniew Herbert, Edward Hirsch on Joseph Brodsky, Henri Cole on James Merrill, Yusef Komunyakaa on Muriel Rukeyser, Eileen Myles on Akilah Oliver, Paul Auster on George Oppen, and Hilton Als on Brenda Shaughnessy) is planned. In an East Village bar, there will be a late-night series on writers’ obsessions, including the longtime Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham discussing his smoking habit with a psychoanalyst, and Andrew Solomon talking about sleep. There are also events about endangered languages—with performances in Welsh, which has an estimated half million speakers, and Cherokee, which has only about twenty-two thousand—as well as a discussion about how to revitalize them. A panel of New York City taxi-drivers—perhaps as rich a sampling of world voices as can be found in any one place—will read pieces that they have been working on with the poet Mark Nowak. The festival closes on May 5, with an address by Sonia Sotomayor, who will then be interviewed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (For more information, visit