Pen America’s World Voices Festival Update

Karrah Keck is a Public Relations Major at Millersville University who went on the trip to Pen America’s World Voices Festival in NYC with Dr. Jakubiak’s New Dimensions to World Literature Class last semester.

On Thursday, April 19th, 2018 my English class taught by Dr. Jakubiak traveled to New York City to hear a panelist of authors from all over the world speak at a convention called Cry, the Beloved Country. The festival was for Pen America’s World Voices Festival which is centered around bringing together world literature and ideas.

The group of authors we listened to each read a piece of their writings in their own native language to authenticate and appreciate its origins. Every single piece that was read dealt with a conflict that each author’s country experienced and had to endure. For Cry. the Beloved Country there were a total of six authors:

  • Ryszard Krynicki: Poland
  • Serhiy Zhadan: Ukraine
  • Marcos Aguinis: Argentina
  • Ngugi wa Thiang’o: Kenya
  • Hwang Sok-yong: Korea
  • Negar Djavadi: Iran/France

After each had finished, the audience was able to meet the authors and have them sign any works they had written. This was a great time for me and my class. Some of us brought along our book The River Between written by Mr. Ngugi wa Thiang’o that we had read in class and got to not only have him sign our novels but to ask him questions about the book we had discussed so heavily. All of the questions we had about the book he was able to answer. To actually meet an author who had written one of my favorite books we had read all semester was such an amazing experience.

Some of us didn’t have any pieces of literature written by the authors, but that did not stop us from talking to them about their inspirations and experiences. I had four out of the six authors sign my program that I was given so I didn’t go away completely empty handed. Every author I spoke to was so insightful and had such grace to their craft that I could not help but feel inspired when they spoke to me. Discussing literature in a classroom is beneficial but hands down, nothing beats talking to the author that actually wrote it.

Taking this trip was one of my favorite things of my freshman year here at Millersville. I cannot even begin to express how fortunate I feel to have been given the opportunity to go and hear this group of authors speak. It is something I truly will never forget. It opened my knowledge of the world and had me think, truly think about the impact that conflict has on literature and the impact literature has on us as humans. It was a privilege and an honor to be a part of something greater than myself. It’s not only eye opening, it is life impacting. I will forever be grateful that I took advantage of this opportunity and went on this trip of a lifetime.

-Karrah Keck