We are happy to announce the fourth issue of New Writing, PENning Journeys. We have now been going for a year and are celebrating this milestone with an event at the Leith festival on 13 June in tandem with contributors to the Scottish PEN double CD Departures and Arrivals/Homecoming, details at http://www.scottishpen.org/buy/departures-and-arrivals.
The theme for this issue, Journeys, is also the theme for Refugee Week. We were encouraged that all but two of the submissions were from people who had not previously contributed, and particularly pleased to have pieces submitted by two of the writers who attended the China Inside Out event at the Confucius Institute to complement the excellent article by our featured writer, Chiew-Siah Tei, who is a Scottish PEN member and who also attended the China Inside Out event, on her Jessie Kesson residency at Moniack Mhor.
We have always said that the magazine's distinctive feature is to display the work of refugees and asylum seekers and that we give priority to their work. This does not mean, however, that we do not welcome submissions from Scottish PEN members too. Indeed, it is an advantage to refugee writers to have their work displayed alongside that of professional writers.
We have given some consideration as to how best to encourage Scottish PEN members as well as refugee writers to submit work for the magazine and have agreed that reducing the number of issues to two a year may be more productive. At present there is an imbalance between poetry and prose and we feel that our current word limit (which was revised from an even lower one) is still not helpful to writers of short stories, descriptive pieces and so on. We have therefore agreed to raise the word limit to 2000, although we would encourage the submission of shorter pieces where possible, since they are easier to read on-line.
We hope you enjoy reading our selection and will consider sending in submissions for our next issue, due out in October, especially if you have never submitted before. The theme is PENning Water and the deadline is 30 September 2010.
Anne Clarke, Linda Cracknell, Lindsey Fraser, Fiona Graham
Ak Welsapar was born in 1956 in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. After six years of membership, he was excluded from the Soviet Writers’ Association following his publication of investigative articles about major ecological problems in Turkmenistan. He left his home country in 1993 and now lives in Sweden, where he is a member of the Swedish Writers’ Association. He has also been an honorary member of the International PEN-Club since 1993. He has published 19 books and received many national and international awards. He writes in Russian, Turkmen and Swedish. His works have been published in a number of languages including Turkmen, Russian, Ukrainian, English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, Mongolian and a few languages from the former USSR. He was invited to represent Turkmenistan in the Poetry Parnassus event held at the South Bank in London this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad and the poem we reproduce is the one he read on that occasion.