About »


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.  Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

PEN America is the largest of more than 100 centers of PEN International. For more than 90 years, we have been working together with our colleagues in the international PEN community to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. In doing so, we are building on a tradition begun in the years following World War I and carried forward by thousands of American writers.

Our strength is our membership—a nationwide community of novelists, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other professionals, and an even larger network of devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America's mission. 

Read The PEN Charter to learn more about our history. 

Membership »

Join PEN and get directly involved with an international community of writers, editors, translators, and readers who are working to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Benefits include individual authors pages on PEN.org, discounted tickets to the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, invitations to Members Only events, as well as discounted subscriptions to PEN's Grants & Awards Database.

Become a Member

PEN American Center »

PEN American Center, Inc. is a 501(c ) 3 corporation registered in New York. We hold tax-exempt status. For more information, view our annual reports and financials:


For financial information, please contact Director of Finance and Adminstration Jessica Paz at 212-334-1660 ext. 1995 or jpaz [at] pen.org

Programs »


Free Expression 
The Free Expression Programs defend writers and protect free expression in the United States and around the world.

World Voices Festival
Each spring, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature showcases the work of writers from around the world in a cross-cultural celebration of the written word. The Festival has featured such luminaries as Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Umberto Eco, Ian McEwan, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Literary Awards
PEN confers over $150,000 to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.

Translation Committee
The Translation Committee advocates for literary translators, working to foster a wider understanding of their art and offering professional resources and support for translators, publishers, critics, and others with an interest in international literature.


Prison Writing
The Prison Writing Program sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free handbook for prisoners, and provides one-on-one mentoring to inmates.

Children's/Young Adult Book Authors Committee
The Children’s/YA Book Authors Committee meets monthly to discuss topics such as censorship and diversity. The committee supports authors whose books have been challenged, sponsors school visits in New Orleans and NYC, plans public programs, and administers PEN’s children’s and YA awards.


PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers

PEN’s literary journal publishes fiction, poetry, memoir, and conversations. It champions international authors and invites them to contribute to provocative forums.


The Writers' Fund
The PEN Writers’ Fund provides financial assistance to professionally published writers and editors facing acute financial crisis.

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