Metamorphosis

At the time of writing these words, the year is drawing to an end. It is a season to reflect on what has occured. It is a season to think about change and transformation, a season to think about metamorphosis. So that’s what we asked our writers to do. You may think of Kafka; you may think of Ovid; you may think of Transformers, of cars turning into terrifying robots. They thought about language, motherhood, multiple selves, and – of course – politics.

Alia Trabucco Zerán explores recent changes in language: can the transformation of Castillian Spanish kickstart a wider change in society? Are new words what we need right now, when the power of words is in the spotlight every day – as Alia puts it, ‘new words to imagine a new reality’?

Yan Ge tackles metamorphosis from a more personal perspective: they are the changes that take place when writing and working in a second language, and the freedom of being a writer, able to ‘cultivate multiple selves, to live a life of polyphony’.

Pınar Öğünç left her home in Turkey for eleven months. When she opened the door to her flat again, she was a different person than the one that had left. The country had changed as well, profoundly – as it had been for years. In her essay for Transmissions, Pınar reflects on the political and personal metamorphosis that she has witnessed during that time.

During her time away from Turkey, Pınar was a writer in residence with English PEN’s Writer’s at Risk programme in London. (You can read more about how she explored the city via its libraries here.) Pınar’s essay is a reminder that writers in Turkey and around the world are at risk for speaking their mind, and that it is a luxury to think that writing isn’t political. Let’s keep this in mind as we shake of the skins of our old selves at the end of another year.

– Theodora Danek, Writers in Translation Manager, English PEN