Pittsburgh already has a remarkable 10-year history as city of refuge, as City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (CoA/P) opened its doors on Sampsonia Way in 2004. Sampsonia Way is located in Pittsburgh’s Northside neighborhood, an area harboring a vast span of cultures and languages.
“It was a moving moment to sign the ICORN agreement with CoA/P co-founder and President Henry Reese within the frames of our network meeting”, says Helge Lunde, ICORN Executive Director. “City of Asylum Pittsburgh is a unique and amazingly inventive undertaking”, he continues, “and we believe they through sharing their creative ideas and rich experience can make a big difference for the future development of ICORN, in the US and even globally.”
A City of Asylum™ Exiled Writer Residency through CoA/P provides a stipend and health care for two years and housing for up to four years for literary writers who are in exile from their home countries and under threat of persecution because of their writing. CoA/P also offers a broad range of literary programs in different community settings, encouraging cross-cultural exchange. So far, CoA/P has hosted five exiled writers: Huang Xiang (China, 2004-06), Horacio Castellanos Moya (El Salvador, 2006-09), Khet Mar (Burma, 2009-12), Israel Centeno (Venezuela, 2010 – present) and Yaghoub Yadali (Iran, 2013 – present).
CoA/P also hosts a parallel international residency program, and very notably, it has its own online magazine, Sampsonia Way, which aims to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and create a community in which persecuted writers may thrive and literary culture is celebrated as a valued part of life. The magazine’s key staff includes exiled writers living on Sampsonia Way, and the idea behind the magazine was conceived based on the advice and experience of these exiled writers.