PEN International is a worldwide association of writers, founded in London in 1921. The organisation promotes and defends freedom of expression and human rights for writers, journalists, screenwriters, bloggers, and more who are persecuted because of their work.

The association also fosters friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere and has autonomous PEN centers in over 100 countries around the world.

Working on a global platform means there is always a need for multilingual translations, whether for speeches, preplanned reviews, reports, newsletters, minutes, or Rapid Action Network (RAN) alerts, press releases, and even prose and poetry.

This is where we come in. Since February 2019, Surrey Translation Bureau (STB) has been working with PEN, providing translation to help to unite voices that defend freedom of expression.

PEN international book case

“Surrey Translation Bureau are instrumental in allowing us to communicate our message of promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression, both to our global membership and the wider public. Their important translation work enables us to be as inclusive as possible when raising awareness of our cause, advocating for writers at risk, and fostering collaboration across different geographies. The team are responsive, professional, and a pleasure to work with.”

Since the collaboration began, STB has been providing translation services to PEN, mainly in Spanish and French, but also in other languages such as Arabic and Russian. The type of projects has ranged from interviews with writers across the globe to reports highlighting the need for freedom of expression.

Voicing the need for freedom of expression through translation

One such project was the translation of the ‘Day of the Imprisoned Writer’ newsletter, which featured compelling stories of writers, activists and poets that have been imprisoned because of their work. The newsletter appealed to readers to take action in support of these writers, providing a detailed background of the climate for freedom of expression on a global scale. It was also the theme of the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award Night for 2020, which was held at the Writers Unlimited festival in the Hague.

STB has also recently translated member profiles, speeches, poems and information about writers in prison or persecuted for their writing for the 87th PEN International Congress. Most of the documents were translated from English to French and Spanish to ensure that the content created for the event was accessible to all attendees.

We have also translated the four resolutions adopted by PEN from English into French and Spanish, with the hope of giving a global voice to the critical situations in Belarus, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Myanmar, and Nicaragua. Furthermore, we are expanding the services we offer to PEN International to include subtitling and transcription to support the diversity of their activities.

Here at STB, we are proud of the contribution we are making to this global cause and hope to continue our association with PEN International for many years to come.

Surrey Translation Bureau

As an award winning ISO certified translation agency, we offer language services to corporates, professional organisations, public bodies, individuals and other translation agencies. We have experience translating across almost all world languages and work with specialists in a wide range of fields including medical, legal, technical, marketing, financial, science, the EU and environment.

STB’s mission today is to provide high-quality and customised language solutions for any client – whatever their size – who wants to thrive in the dynamic global market or who simply wants to communicate more effectively with their customers and suppliers overseas.