Maureen Duffy: Postcards from the International Authors Forum


Header image: from of Another way of seeing, a project by Oum Jeongsoon, who works with blind people to co-create art.

On 10th October 2017, King's College London hosted 'Postcards from the International Authors Forum', as part of the annual Arts and Humanities Festival on the theme of 'World Service'.

The event considered the services authors perform all over the world, through the network of the International Authors Forum (IAF), an initiative Maureen Duffy has been instrumental in building since 2011. Through films, presentations and exhibitions, this event included the work of creators in Iraq, Israel, Italy, Korea, Solomon Islands, South Africa and Sudan.

The contributions draw attention to the conditions in which writers work around the world, and the importance of preserving cultural and linguistic diversity in thinking about ways we can give voice to and recognise the positive contributions authors everywhere make to humanity.

IAF is a global network of unions of writers and artists which supports authors’ professional rights and interests, including copyright and fair contracts.

Maureen Duffy connects with writers and writing all over the world, not limited by distance, language, borders and time.

Her work advocating for authors and cultural diversity, takes form in her writing and numerous practical initiatives  to support authors and ensure they are paid. Without writers working collectively and collaboratively, these initiatives would not exist. Finding a gap where authors had not come together from different countries to represent their rights internationally, Maureen has encouraged and helped to build the International Authors Forum (IAF), a network of unions of artists and writers all over the world.

She is still called upon as a voice with authority and reason - and unmistakably as a writer - at the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva, where the international copyright framework is regulated by nearly 200 of the world’s governments. IAF is an effort to maintain cultural diversity against an increasingly globalised and homogenised world by encouraging countries to nurture their local cultures, by supporting the work of authors, enriching us all: ‘treasuring our culture but not turning it into a whipping post for people that we think do not conform’, as Maureen puts it. The event marking Maureen’s ‘world service’ was a forum for authors’ organisations and efforts in different countries to present themselves and explain why their work is necessary in their own local environments:

  • Solomon Islands - Christina Kuper presented the work of Solomon Islands Creative Writers Association (SICWA).
  • South Korea - The work of Oum Jeong Soon, from Seoul, South Korea, was exhibited. Oum creates art with blind people through her project ‘Another way of seeing’.
  • Italy - Ida Baucia presented the work of the Writers’ Union of Italy (FUIS).
  • South Africa - ANFASA, the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors of South Africa, made a film for the event.
  • Sudan - The Sudanese Writers Union created a ‘postcard’ to the International Authors Forum in the form of a film.
  • Israel - Vered Cohen Barzilay, from Israel, gave a presentation, ‘Literature as a Bridge Between Cultures and the Power of Diversity’, about the importance of literature to build bridges of understanding and work against the most negative forces influencing the world.
  • Iraq - Mouayad Sary’s photographs of Iraq were exhibited, an expression of his belief that we all need a place to live, somewhere to make our home, and something to believe in. He shines a light on the historic, religious and cultural riches of a country too often associated only with war.

Katie Webb, Editor

Gallery: Postcards from the International Authors Forum, 2017

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