PEN Galicia




The first attempt to create a Galician section of the PEN (founded by the English writer Amy Dawson Scott, in 1921, in London) took place in the meeting held on April 14, 1977, in the Galician Language Institute, the former Philology Faculty (Mazarelos Square, Santiago) by a group of female and male writers constituted by Eduardo Blanco-Amor, Xesús Alonso Montero, Xosé María Castroviejo, Xosé Chao Rego, Alexandre Cribeiro, Álvaro Cunqueiro, Rafael Dieste, Marino Dónega, Francisco Fernández del Riego, Celso Emilio Ferreiro, Xosé F. Filgueira Valverde, Domingo García-Sabell, Bernardino Graña, Ramón Martínez López, Sebastián Martínez Risco, Xosé Luis Méndez Ferrín, Uxío Novoneira, Reimundo Patiño, Valentín Paz Andrade, Ramón Piñeiro, María Xosé Queizán, Luis Seoane, Lorenzo Varela, Antón Tovar, et al. (reaching eventually 47 writers). The project, immediately supported by the Catalonian PEN Center, was not accepted, as the International PEN admitted, at that moment, only the representative literatures of countries with State.



When the International PEN revised that wrong and restrictive criterion, at the end of the 80s, another group of 27 authors, formed by Xesús Alonso Montero, Vicente Araguas, Alberto Avendaño, Fermín Bouza Álvarez, Darío Xohán Cabana, Xoán Manuel Casado, Carlos Casares, Alfredo Conde, Xosé Fernández Ferreiro, Salvador García-Bodaño, Antonio García Teijeiro, Luís González Tosar, Carlos G.Reigosa, Úrsula Heinze, Modesto Hermida, Arcadio López-Casanova, Antón L. Dobao, Ramón Lorenzo, Marina Mayoral, María Victoria Moreno, David Otero, Xesús Rábade, Antón Risco, Xavier Rodríguez Barrio, Andrés Torres Queiruga, Xohana Torres e Helena Villar, sent to London, on April 12, 1989, the request form to create the Galician PEN Center. Then, Úrsula Heinze and Luís González Tosar were elected to assist, as nonvoting members, to the 53rd Congress that was celebrated in Maastricht (Netherlands), from May 7 to May 12, 1989. On May 10, the proposal of integration of the writers in Galician was discussed by the Assembly, and was eventually unanimously admitted.



On March 9, 1990, in Santiago de Compostela, the writers Carlos Casares, Alfredo Conde, Úrsula Heinze, Salvador García-Bodaño, Luís González Tosar, Modesto Hermida, Ramón Lorenzo, Xesús Rábade, Helena Villar, Xohana Torres, Antón L.Dobao and Alberto Avendaño agreed, in the name of the rest of the founding members, that the Galician PEN Center should base its action in the task of promoting the literature in the Galician language abroad, in the internal promotion of our letters, and in the defense of the freedom of speech and opinion. Therefore, in that date, the cultural association Galician PEN Center was formed as a nonprofit association, under agreement on the statutes that govern it; approved on December 13, 1990. The Interim Commitee selected by the former writers was composed by: Alfredo Conde (President), Luís González Tosar (Secretary), Modesto Hermida and Carlos Casares (Treasurers), and Úrsula Heinze and Helena Villar (Spokespeople).

The presidents of the Galician PEN Center have been: Alfredo Conde (1990-1991), Úrsula Heinze (1991-1996), and Carlos Casares (1996-1999). In its 22 years of path, the collective has been incorporating poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights..., and, in general, relevant creators linked to the world of the book and reading of our literary system. Currently, 98 writers belong to the Galician PEN Center, representatives of the diverse literary genres and the different generations.



60th PEN International Congress in Santiago (1993)

On May, 1992, Alfredo Conde, Úrsula Heinze and Helena Villar, assistants of the 59th Congress celebrated in Funchal (Madeira), promoted Santiago de Compostela as the headquarters of the next world encounter of writers (1993), candidacy that was accepted unanimously. The 60th PEN Congress took place, then, in Santiago de Compostela, from September 6 to September 12, 1993, with great success. More than 300 writers from all the world represented 120 PEN Centers in 102 countries.

Camilo José Cela, Salman Rushdie, José Saramago, Jorge Amado, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Nélida Piñón and João Ubaldo Ribeiro, among other major figures in literature, were invited as honorary guests. In that historical Congress, the “Declaration of Compostela”, basic text in favor of the defense of freedom of speech and opinion from the perspective of multiculturalism and multilinguism, was approved.

“Rosalía de Castro” Awards

The Galician PEN introduced, in 1996, the awards “Rosalía de Castro”, set aside for awarding the complete work of a prominent author of the neighboring literatures (in Spanish, Catalonian, Portuguese and Euskara languages).

With the “Rosalía de Castro” awards, every two years, we have acknowledged such relevant writing personalities as Jose Saramago, Gonzalo Torrente Ballester, Joan Perucho, and Bernardo Atxaga (1st edition, 1996); António Lobo Antunes, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Miquel de Palol and Juan Mari Lekuona (2nd edition, 1998); Sophia de Melo, José Angel Valente, Pere Gimferrer and Angel Lertxundi (3rd edition, 2000); Ernesto Sabato, Nélida Piñón, Ricard Salvat and Felipe Juaristi (4th  edition, 2002); Francisco Brines, Carme Riera, Ramón Saizarbitoria and Rubem Fonseca (5th edition , 2004); Isabel Allende, Josep Palau i Fabre, Arantxa Urretabizkaia and Agustina Bessa Luís (6th edition, 2006); Álvaro Mutis, Mia Couto, Jon Kortazar and Joan Margarit ( 7th edition, 2008) and Antonio Gamoneda, Lêdo Ivo, Itxaro Borda and Francesc Parcerisas (8th edition, 2010).

The Year of Renovation (2000) World Day of Poetry.

On December,1999, a phase of renovation begins that coincides with the visit of the international president, the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis, and the international secretary, the Swedish essayist Terry Carlbom, to our country. The Galician PEN organized, in Santiago de Compostela, the WORLD POETRY DAY / CELEBRACIÓN MUNDIAL DA POESÍA (from March 21 to March 24, 2001) in collaboration with the UNESCO and the International PEN. More than 100 poets, from every continent, attended this event, being among them two Nobel Prize laureates: Derek Walcott and Wole Soyinca.

“Caixanova” Poetry Award / “Arte de trobar” Collection

In 2002, with the collaboration of CAIXANOVA, the PEN Club launched the “CAIXANOVA DE POESÍA” Award and the collection “Arte de trobar”, of which 13 titles have been published. The award is on its 10th call. Also in 2002, the activity “Poesía, arte e natureza” (“Poetry, Art and Nature”) (Cecebre, A Coruña, April 4) was celebrated, and on December 26 of the same year, in Fisterra’s lighthouse, the PEN Club expressed its solidarity, in collaboration with the town council, to the victims of the catastrophe of the Prestige: “Poetas contra marea negra” (“Poets against the black tide”).

“Voz de liberdade” Award

In 2003, the “Premio PEN Galicia – Voz de liberdade” (“PEN Galicia –Voice of Liberty Award”) with which it has been recognized the task of the prominent male and female authors in defense of freedom of speech. In the first occasion the award went to Bernardino Graña, to whom they followed Úrsula Heinze (2005), Francisco Fernández del Riego and Isaac Díaz Pardo (2007) and Marcos Valcárcel (2009). In 2004, the cycle “Escritores no Camiño/ Writers on the Road” was organized through two encounters: Descordo de amor: Occitania en Galicia (Samos, Lugo), from May 29 to May 31, and Galicia e Iberoamérica: Un mundo literario (Santiago de Compostela), from July 12 to July 15.

In this same year, 2004, the PEN led the commemoration of the 25 anniversary of the death of Eduardo Blanco-Amor, organizing a “Xornada blancoamoriana” (“Blancoamoriana conference”), which we have been celebrating annually every December 1, with the participation of the students of the IES Blanco Amor of Ourense, day of passing of the author of A Esmorga; the novel of which we remember its 50 years of existence.

Literary Biennial “Compostela, de pedra e de palabra” (Compostela, of stone and word)

Santiago de Compostela – city which was declared World Heritage Site in 1985 by the UNESCO – gathers, as capital of Galicia and as target of pilgrimages and culture (“Europe was born while making a pilgrimage to Compostela”, J.W. Goethe), for its history, its monumental character and literary tradition, the optimal characteristics to be one of the world literary models, as well as Guadalajara (Mexico), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Frankfurt (Germany), Barcelona (Spain), New York (USA)... Thus, the Galician PEN Center launched the project “Compostela de pedra e de palabra” (“Compostela of stone and word”). This initiative was sponsored by the Santiago Consortium and the Culture Council of the Xunta de Galicia. Six editions have been held, respectively between 2006 and 2016.


In the chapter of publications, PEN Galicia edits the following collections: “Arte de trovar” (poetry, 23 titles), “O gato tradutor” (translation of poetry and prose, (from Galician to other languages and from other languages to Galician) 6 titles) and “Currupa literaria” (destined to different works from the point of view of readers, 2 titles).



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