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Jimmy Tingle, comedian
Elizabeth Searle, co-vice chair, PEN New England
Percival Everett, writer
Baron Wormser, former Maine Poet Laureate
Lise Haines, writer
Teddy Sherrill, former director of advertising, Harvard Lampoon
Richard Hoffman, writer and chair of PEN New England
PEN also presents the 2009 Vasyl Stus Freedom to Write Award to Nurmuhemmet Yasin, whose satirical story “Wild Pigeon” Chinese authorities considered critical of their presence in the Xinjiang Uighur Region. After a closed trial in 2005 at which he was denied a lawyer, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The award is named in honor of Vasyl Stus, the leading Ukrainian poet of his generation and the last poet to die in a Soviet gulag, and is awarded to Yasin in absentia.
PEN New England is one of five regional branches of PEN America Center, which in turn is part of International PEN, the only worldwide organization of writing professionals and the world’s first human rights organization. PEN’s mission is to promote literacy and a culture of literature, and to defend free expression everywhere.