Well, folks, the first meeting about a Mongolian PEN Center took place on Wednesday.
To recap, I have been in contact with PEN about the possibility of creating a PEN center in Mongolia since learning in March that I would be a Luce Scholar for the 2007-2008 year. I chose to work with the Mongolian Writer's Union as their International Relations Advisor, and this past week we had the first meeting about the possibility of creating a Mongolian PEN center, a meeting that I have been insisting on since I got here.
The meeting was incredibly successful. I brought copies of the PEN Charter, which needs to be signed by 20 starting members of a PEN Center-to-be as part of the PEN Center application process.
Over 20 writers signed the PEN Charter. Watching that piece of paper go around the table, being signed, was the most exciting thing.
Mr. Ayurzana headed a former "PEN Club" that was never an official branch of International PEN and that was also made up of only a small group of people. He voiced a preference for a more inclusive PEN for Mongolia that would be much more active and inclusive (another thing I had insisted on to him and was unsure of his feelings about until that moment); to that end, the Mongolians decided to post advertisements in the paper and a website application so that any Mongolian writer could apply. They looked over the PEN Center formation documents I handed out and came up with a list of questions, which I'm asking on their behalf to International PEN in London.
All went well, no one brawled, and I am pretty damn excited about what looks like a strong possibility for a Mongolian PEN Center in the near future. Not bad for my first three months in Asia, and not bad for a hundredth post. I get my confidence kicks where I can find them, since mostly things happen like the other night when I slipped and fell hard on my ass on some frozen marble steps.