Bahá'í poet and teacher Mahvash Sabet was named this year's recipient of the PEN International Writer of Courage award by PEN's Pinter Prize winner by Michael Longley. The award is shared with a writer who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs, selected by the winner in consultation with English PEN's Writers at Risk committee.
Sabet, who was released in September after being imprisoned for almost 10 years in Iran, began writing poetry while incarcerated. Prison Poems, a collection of her work, adapted from Persian by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, was published in the U.K. in April 2013 by George Ronald Publisher.
Longley said he is "humbled to share the PEN Pinter Prize with Mahvash Sabet, an Iranian poet condemned in 2010 to 20 years in prison simply because of her Bahá'í faith and her work on behalf of the Bahá'í community: a songbird trapped in a cage. Mahvash is at heart a lyrical poet who sings the beauty of the world. Her imagination is rhapsodic. Her poems want to soar. I rejoice that she has been released from prison. Her incarceration by the Iranian authorities was a sin against the light. The power of dictators to silence and imprison writers continues to 'put all heaven in a rage.' "
In her acceptance speech--delivered by comedian Omid Djalili, a member of the Bahá'í faith--Sabet said, "Ten years of my life have just passed behind bars, and as I re-enter the world I find myself given this incredible award. It is a wonder to me and a mystery.
"Coming back into the light after these ten long years in darkness has not been easy. The changes I see all round me are truly astonishing. The pace of life is overwhelming. But the hardest thing for me is to know that even though I am walking free, many other friends and colleagues still remain behind bars.
"So in the midst of my wonder, I am filled with anguish. I am torn between joy and sorrow at this moment. And in thanking you for this great honor, I would like to speak on behalf of all whose rights and freedoms have been deprived.... This is what PEN did for me, by championing my cause."
Shortlists have been released for the Chartered Management Institute's 2018 Management Book of the Year. Five category winners and an overall winner will be announced at an awards event at the British Library on February 6, 2018. The winning author receives £5,000 (about $6,605). You can see the complete shortlists here.