PEN World Voices Festival: Photos from 1,000 Words: The Power of Visual Storytelling

By Bud Parr

Photos by Mary Reagan, text from the PEN Website.

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“What can pictures provide that words cannot? Our panelists have all used pictures to tell challenging and compelling stories: Shaun Tan, from Australia, has imagined the experience of immigration in his wordless book The Arrival; Jonathan Ames, from the United States, has depicted the life of a failing writer in The Alcoholic; David Polonsky, from Israel, illustrated the horrors of the Israeli-Lebanon war in Waltz with Bashir; and Emmanuel Guibert, from France, has documented war in Afghanistan and in Europe in his graphic novels.”


jonathan ames


“Jonathan Ames was born in New York City in 1964. He is the author of the graphic novel The Alcoholic, and the novels I Pass Like Night, The Extra Man, and Wake Up, Sir!, and the essay collections What’s Not to Love?, My Less Than Secret Life, and I Love You More Than You Know. He is also the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs. Ames is the winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a former columnist for New York Press. His next book, a collection of fiction and non-fiction, The Double Life is Twice As Good, will be published by Scribner in July 2009. Wake Up, Sir! and The Extra Man are in development as films, with Ames writing the screenplays. He also adapted What’s Not to Love? as a TV special for the Showtime network and he played himself. He performs frequently as a storyteller and comedian and has been a recurring guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. He was a participant in the 2005 World Voices Festival. Jonathan Ames currently lives and works in New York City.”


emmanuel guibert


“Emmanuel Guibert was born in Paris. He has created many works for children and adults, including the graphic novels Alan’s War: The Memoirs of G.I. Alan Cope, and, with Joann Sfar, the Sardine in Outer Space series and The Professor’s Daughter. Guibert’s most recent book is The Photographer, which has been translated around the world and will be published in the U.S. in paperback this May. It recounts the story of a Doctors Without Borders mission in Afghanistan through the eyes of a great photo-journalist, the late Didier Lefèvre.”


david polonsky


“David Polonsky was born in Kiev in 1973, and his family immigrated to Israel in 1981. Polonsky graduated with honors from the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. His illustrations appear in all the leading Israeli newspapers and magazines, and his works in children’s book illustration have won many awards. Polonsky was also the art director and lead artist for the acclaimed animated film Waltz with Bashir, which won the Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category this year. He teaches illustration and animation in Bezalel Academy and in Shenkar School of Design. ”


shaun tan


“Shaun Tan was born in Fremantle, Western Australia in 1974. He is the internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of The Lost Thing, The Red Tree, and the award-winning New York Times bestseller The Arrival. His most recent work Tales from Outer Suburbia, is an anthology of 15 short illustrated stories. In 2001, Tan won the Best Artist category at the World Fantasy Awards, and he is also the winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award for The Rabbits with John Marsden. He also has worked with Blue Sky Studios and Pixar, providing concept artwork for films. He lives in Australia. ”


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