Slovene PEN Centre

Slovene PEN was founded in 1926; its first Chairman was Oton Župančič. The founding members included Izidor Cankar, Josip Vidmar, France Stele, Janko Lavrin, Fran Saleski Finžgar, France Bevk, Prežihov Voranc and France Koblar. During World War II the Centre was inactive. Its activities were re-launched in 1962, and the Centre established its role of the meeting point of the East and the West by organising the PEN World Congress at Bled in 1965. Since 1962 the Presidents of the Slovene PEN have been Matej Bor, Mira Mihelič (later also Vice-President of International PEN), Filip Kumbatovič-Kalan, Milos Mikeln, Drago Jančar, Boris A. Novak (since 2002 Vice-President of International PEN), Marko Kravos, Veno Taufer, Tone Peršak, Marjan Strojan, Evald Flisar. The actual President is Ifigeija Simonović.

Before World War II Slovene PEN was successfully defending the persecuted writers from Primorska, and was among the initiators of the first international accusation of fascism and nazism at the Dubrovnik Congress in 1933. In the post-war period one of the important events was the 33rd World Congress held at Bled in 1965: writers from the former Soviet Union attended for the first time in the role of observers. Let us also mention the traditional Bled Meetings, which - in the forty years of existence - became one of the most prominent literary gatherings in the world. Since its foundation the Slovene PEN has stood in defence of those whose freedom of expression was violated, supported the persecuted authors in former Yugoslavia, and paid special attention to Slovenian minorities in the neighbouring countries. In the period when Slovenia was gaining independence Slovenian PEN was keeping the world informed via the network of International PEN, and during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was gathering and forwarding international aid for writers in that region. International reputation of the Slovenian Centre is further strengthened by the fact that the chair of the Writers for Peace Committee - founded in 1984 on the initiative of the then President of the centre Milos Mikeln, who was also the first Chairman of the Committee - is situated in Ljubljana. During the wars in the territory of former Yugoslavia the Committee was chaired by Boris A. Novak. He was followed by Veno Taufer and Edvard Kovač. From 2013 to 2016 it was Chaired by Tone Peršak and since 2016 by Marjan Strojan.