11. ročník literárního festivalu Think Tank Town Leskovac

Jedenáctý ročníku literárního festivalu Think Tank Town v srbském Leskovaci zahájil 6. října 2017 jeho ředitel Saša Stojanović, člen Českého PEN klubu. Válku strávil v Kosovu u 175. pěchotní brigády a skončila pro něj s diagnózou posttraumatická stresová porucha. Napsal tři knihy: Krvoslednici (Barváři), Manchester City Blues a VAR (SVÁR). Poslední z nich byl vydán v češtině v roce 2011 (přeložil Jan Doležal, vydalo nakladatelství Dauphin).

Po dva dny účastníci kulatých stolů diskutovali na téma svoboda slova, cenzura a autocenzura, součástí programu byla autorská čtení v Murphy´s pubu a škola kreativního psaní. Zástupci Slovinska, Makedonie, Polska, Srbska a Českého PEN klubu navštívili muzeum v Leskovci a pozůstatky byzantského města Justiniana Prima (Caričin grad), které bylo vybudováno za vlády Justiniána I. ve snaze osídlit místo svého narození.


Ladies and gentleman, dear friends of written word, friends of literature and friends of freedom,

First I wish to express our most sincere thanks from the bottom of our hearts – I am to speak for all

of us - for your invitation and the most effective and kind acceptance.

Especially when we are most impolite visitors: We came - without any warning! - earlier than we were expected. And we are a group of four except the two originally invited. How can we apologize for our

ill-mannered behavior? We are from Prague and we proudly represent the Czech Centre of International PEN, keeping the uninterrupted 90 years old tradition through the history full of breaks, gusts and painful challenges.

We try to keep our position in the “good society” of international intellectuals. Actually, we realize that we are living in the period of quick, swift, oft incomprehensible changes.

Today, we cannot predict what our world will look like in two or three years. We realize the growing danger of escalation of pushing of national interests, of escalation of - public or hidden – power ambitions .

The organisation of PEN International was born in the tragic ruins of the WW 1. The intellectuals of all Europe have wanted to create a platform to meet each other, to learn and understand each other. We try to do our best – which does not mean too much, I am afraid – in this effort.

Having gotten Saša Stojanovic invitation, who is both the member of the Serbian and the Czech center, we felt honored and ashamed simultanously.

Why ashamed? Because of our ignorance. Leskovac? Where is it situated? A Serbian city? Look at the map…. Beograd, south of it… Nis, yes, this way… closer to the frontier… That is the rather unpleasant situation, is it not? And that’s how we came here.

We have had the embarrassing experience of the life in socialism. That means we have had the experience of EMPTY WORDS, of ritual conferences, of formal greetings without any sense at all.

Us – I am sure I may say it for all of us – we hate the type of “meeting”, of “friendship”,

of “brotherhood”. The time was over, thank God, we are living in a democratic society.

We prefer to take small steps, but, particularly, genuine steps to understand each other, to know more and realize more about the everyday situation, opinions, joys and troubles of our colleagues.

We are happy for your help, for your yesterday introduction in the history of your region, this cradle

of emperors. Thank you from all my /our hearts. As for us, I am honored to invite you to come to Prague to celebrate the 90 th anniversary of our PEN Center.

This is a history of our PEN, published at this occasion. Please, don´t hesitate to take it for your use. Sorry, it is written in Czech. Nevertheless, there is a lot of photographs there – and an English conclusion. And – last but not least – the Czech and Serbian languages are very close to one another.

I wish…. You probably guessed, and have an idea what I mean. And I mean it. The subject of our discusion is: freedom of words. Let´s be free no to use empty words.

Thank you.

Olga Walló


Our world is always changing.

Today, the problems of censorship most definitely differ from those of. former times.

In my experience there were two types of censorship: the preliminary censorship and the consecutive censorship. The latter was more moral, or virtuous because it didn´t pretend not to exist. Everyone could see the results the blank spaces in newspapers, the blank spaces in published and officially censured text.

The preliminary censorship is indecent, as it creates the impression and the illusion od freedom of speech. But actually, and it is somewhat strange, this type of censorship is not total. Why? Well it incorporates a hidden creative impulse. The author is forced to express his idea some other way, while looking for a different access. The original idea must not be totally suppressed the spirit, the hidden ghost just must get out of the bottle!

Paradoxically, the preliminary censorship has an influence on the creativity of a writer, his symbols, his choices of synonyms, the art of allusions - it spreads and opens, somewhat a hermeneutics horizon – simply said, the censorship influences the language and literary skilfulness on the whole. The other reason for the preliminary censorship could not be total: this is simply the phenomenon of time.

The censorship could take place, only until the text left for the typesetting. And very often – the second, corrected text was ever more controversial than the text originally prohibited. There was the struggle against time, the play of a cat and mouse.

One of them is the privatisation of Media which does not take a way of an individual opinion, but - the media and the printed matter particularly – express the opinions of their owners or particular power structures.

But the reality is even more complicated. The image of reality in these medias is substantially tendentious. To be credible – the trustworthiness means using a mixture of truth half-truth and a lie. If the fragment of truth is not included, the play is not transparent and becomes ineffective.

We live in a actual Dostojevskij situation: All is allowed. The other essentials point is the simple existence of social net. They differs from the usual - for me at least - current sharing of opinions. The public opinion used to be created by qualified minority.

While today – any social net is a result of a loud speaking community of highly motivated anonymous, mostly by hate, or envy or even exhibition. There isn’t any generally shared public exhibition. The generally shared value criterions are not there.

What does censorship mean today? Its functions regularly have faded away, the auto-censorship is the only one left. I hope. This self censorship could be understood negatively – in that case it means some type of subordination to power. Or else positively - in this case it means the loyalty to moral principles - of our lonely selves.

Vladimír Karfík


Ladies and gentlemen, dear Sasha,

I will try to read to you a short text about the activity of the Czech PEN club about persecuted writers the world around. The cause of the PEN club, has always been to care about the freedom of word and the liberty of publishing it.

There was a long period of forty years, when that activity was limited to the minimum. There were two levels of our literature - on the one side the "official" authors - and the prohibited ones on the other. The works of many "not-unimportant” authors were published abroad. After the “velvet revolution”,

that is after 1989, when the activity of PEN was revived (let me remind then our first president of PEN was Karel Čapek and actually Václav Havel replaced him in this function) the activity of PEN is linked to support banned or imprisoned authors all over the world.

There is a new project of PEN Club library titled, PEN&PIN BOOK SERIES under which, in cooperation with non profit organization People in Need, PEN has published works of authors banned and / or imprisoned by totalitarian regimes. These books are distributed abroad and smuggled into the writers´ home countries. During its 10 years of existence of the project more than 20 books were published this way. For illustration, we have published the poetry collection of the Kurdish poet Ahmet Arif, the Spanish poet Jorge Olivera, the contemporary poetry from Belarus, poems from Tsaring Woeser from Tibet, or the Chinese book by the poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liou Siao-Po about Chinese dissent, the Syrian poet Hosam Melhem and other authors from many countries. I could say, we have been paying our debt.

I wish to all members of our conference: let´s no writer, no journalist, no creative man of any oevre, ever need this help.

Dana Mojžíšová

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