#PENFest12

Now that it’s been over a month, I thought it might be time to revisit this space and start writing again. But first, I thought I would explain what’s kept me busy this past month starting with the PEN World Voices Festival

So each year, PEN selects a number of online correspondents to provide “live” coverage of the festival events and for some reason, they chose me. If you’d like, you can check out one of my pieces here, and if you browse the tumblr long enough you can find another. Despite the fact that I’m not sure how I ended up making the cut, I’m glad I did.

As you’ve noticed by now, a lot of what I write about has to do with the relationship between art/politics. I’m not an artist though; I’m a researcher, that’s what guides my approach and my understanding of these issues. Being at the World Voices Festival was a chance to shake that off a little bit and get out of the need to find the work to support how I was feeling about a particular topic and instead just listen and react. Actually, somebody asked Tony Kushner about research (“how do you know when you’ve done enough research and are ready to start writing?”) to which he responded, “I use research… it’s a really good way of maintaining your dignity while avoiding work.”

To an extent that’s true. You can say that you’re research isn’t quite complete yet, that there’s more to learn, because there is always more that you don’t know. But this will always be the case, so at a certain point you have to pull yourself out of the rabbit hole, make sense of what you’ve got, and actually produce something.

That said, back to my researcher-self for a moment… I’ve also been keeping busy with the 50th Anniversary Blog for the World Policy Institute The celebration “Around the Table” was on May 3rd, and most of the posts leading up were to promote the 5 themes of the night and retrace the Institute’s history. For the last few posts though, we’re going to go back and get at the things we didn’t have time for… specifically more of the art/policy nexus, which leads me to my final point…

Somehow, through some turn of events I’ve met Emmanuel Jal and one of the producers of The Shadow Effect: Congo, in the past two weeks. Needless to say, it’s been a busy month and these things have taken some time to process, so more on this next week.

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