Sessions are conducted by the literary organisation PEN at Prithvi House, where people interested in the written word can gather to read/share/discuss texts from all genres, in an atmosphere of informed and engaging conviviality.
The PEN All-India Centre and Prithvi Theatre began a joint initiative - Pen@Prithvi - on April 15th, 2006. A monthly session, it is conducted by the Indian members of the PEN (an international association of writers). The idea is to provide a space where people can gather to read/share/discuss the written word, in all its varied avatars, across languages, across genres. Here is a literary platform that follows an in-depth and interactive approach, and explores a new synergy of writers, readers and listeners.
With a view to promoting the PEN ideals of freedom of expression and literature as common currency among nations, the sessions are thematically structured. Chosen topics and texts are those that provoke intellectual discussion, resist and/or court controversy/censorship, break new ground in theory or practice, celebrate the spirit of inquiry, are seminal to our understanding of other cultures, are inventive and innovative in the pursuit of language and so on. In the last twelve sessions, topics have ranged from 'Degrees of Freedom' to 'Deciphering the City', from 'Everyday History' to 'Myths are Public Dreams'. The formats have varied from the reading to the panel discussion, from the formal presentation of papers to the heated debate. Speakers and presenters have included Naresh Fernandes (editor, writer), Nishtha Jain (filmmaker), Altaf Tyrewala (novelist), Tenzin Tsundue (poet, activist), Anand Thakore (Hindustani musician, poet), Abhigyan Jha (filmmaker), Naved Aslam (actor, writer), Amrita Shah (journalist, biographer), Anju Makhija (poet, playwright, translator), Chandrahas Choudhury (writer, blogger), Daryl D'Monte (journalist, activist) to name just a few.
The sessions are a celebration of the need to share the written word in a performative way, a function that fits seamlessly into the traditions of Prithvi Theatre, the venue at which the sessions are held. The hope is that over time, and though various forms, PEN@PRITHVI will become a place where the ethos of community meets the ethics of writing in an increasingly beleaguered world.
Key organizers: Sampurna Chattarji, Ranjit Hoskote