My Web-site Makeover and Melbourne Pen
We collaborated on the practical aspects but the aesthetics are all his. And as orange is one of my favourite colours, he couldn't have got it more right. I can't stop admiring the way he has presented my writings, so the web-site now doubles as a state-of-the-art artist's folio. Thank you, Luke.
I couldn't help but contrast the ease of this project and how I just take it for granted that I'm entitled to speak my mind with another writing experience I had recently.
Last year I joined Melbourne Pen. This local branch is part of International Pen, an association of writers, with 145 centres in 104 countries, dedicated to promoting literature and defending freedom of expression.
One of Melbourne Pen's regular activities is an annual meeting where members gather to send messages of greeting and support to imprisoned writers.
Just before Christmas, twenty or so of us met at Cafe Italia in Carlton. That evening the focus was on Cuba, the Ivory Coast, China and the Basque region. Sitting there chatting and scribbling in comfort amidst the debris of a pleasant meal, it was shocking to think how different life is for the recipients of our cards. Many have been in prison for years for speaking out, and in some cases that has merely been for expressing their opinions on their blogs.
It did feel a bit like flinging messages in bottles into the sea - especially as a circuitous route is usually necessary and there are plenty of rocks en route - so that some messages never reach their destinations. But we know that people do sometimes receive our cards and are heartened to know that fellow writers on the other side of the world feel for them.
If you'd like to join, Melbourne Pen always welcomes new members.