Larry Siems, PEN American Center
Welcome to Late Night Conversation. This week Doug talks to Larry Siems, Director of PEN American Center’s Freedom to Write. Doug and Larry discuss PEN’s mission, the current threats and political climate facing writers of conscience, literature as a means of activism, and what steps Late Night Conversation listeners can take to further PEN’s mission.
“At the heart of change in our work is that we live in a world where at the first time in human history a huge percentage of the population has at their fingertips the tools to be a writer….If we all believe that writing is a transformative thing, it can be transformative for society, transformative for individuals, here’s the moment, a moment like we’ve never had where all of us can participant and be part of this increasingly global conversation.”
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About our guest:
Larry Siems joined PEN American Center in 2001 as Director of its Freedom to Write and International Programs following five years as the Director of the Freedom to Write Program at PEN USA West in Los Angeles. At PEN American Center, he is responsible for PEN’s ongoing efforts to defend writers facing persecution for their work around the work and for PEN’s Campaign for Core Freedoms, a comprehensive initiative to turn back new threats to freedom of expression in the United States. He is the author, most recently, of The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program, a compilation of his work as the lead researcher and writer of the ACLU’s Torture Report (www.thetorturereport.org). He was instrumental in the creation of the “Reckoning With Torture” film project, a joint initiative of PEN, the ACLU, and director Doug Liman that promotes accountability by encouraging public readings from declassified documents that detail the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody since September 11, 2001.