PEN America Prison Writing Program

PEN America Prison Writing Program

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The Prison Writing Program is an initiative by the PEN American Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization operating in New York, Washington D.C. and California. It supports the writing of thousands of imprisoned writers by providing free resources, skilled mentors, and audiences for their writing. The PEN Prison Writing Program believes in the restorative, rehabilitative and transformative possibilities of writing. The program supports free expression and encourages the use of the written word as a legitimate form of power. We strive towards an increasingly integrative approach, aiming to amplify the voices and writing of imprisoned people to expand beyond the silo of prison, and the identity of incarcerated people. They offer a handbook for writers in Prison that teaches elements of writing fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. It also provides resources for writers in prison. The handbook is free for any incarcerated person when requested by a letter. PEN also awards cash prizes in five categories of writing from incarcerated people (fiction, essay, memoir, poetry, and drama/screenplay). The PEN Prison Writing Mentorship Program pairs established writers with incarcerated men and women.

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