Freedom of expression is the fundament of a democratic society: it is central in terms of information, debate, investigative media, and literature. The importance of the freedom of expression and an insight that it can by no means be taken for granted was what I wanted my creative writing class to gain from our cooperation with PEN/Opp. Also, I wanted to convey the importance of expressing oneself, even in the face of prohibition and danger, and the need to read and to really listen to and try to understand other people’s texts about difficult experiences and situations.
“Skrivande 20” (“Creative Writing Class 20”) is a small group of students in year two on the upper secondary school writing programme at Film & Musikgymnasiet (The Film and Music Gymnasium) in Norrköping. I teach the creative writing course, but I have also published fiction and for many years I have been a member of Swedish PEN.
In collaboration with Kholod Saghir the students have read texts from PEN/Opp, discussed them, and then written their own texts inspired by the content and styles that have felt special to them in some way. The process has been short and intensive—one lesson before the Christmas break, and two after. The course resulted in six very different texts on the themes of “Hate speech” and “A room of one’s own,” two themes that can be found at penopp.org. "LGBTQ is not a question of politics" that is published today is one of the texts reflecting on "Hate speech".