Tsunami Caryh-Averlyn was awarded an Honorable Mention in Nonfiction Memoir in the 2022 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population.


Well for September, it was a beautiful late summer day as I strolled across campus in a casual summer dress, sandals, my hair pulled into a ponytail and the rugged sound of my Samsonite pull-away luggage on the concrete, filling my ear. I made my way to A-Dorm, on the west side of campus. As I arrived at the building, I took my last deep breath to quell the butterflies in my stomach and proceeded inside.

The dorm building was actually a group of mini dorms. Four girls to each dorm, four dorms on each floor, five floors total. I checked my little piece of paper, “A-2.”I waltzed into the elevator and hit the second floor button. I was running late. A whole day late, actually. Yesterday I experienced my last cold feet. I had never had a problem passing, but I had never lived in such close proximity to nidals before. Or at least not nidals who would not know my deepest held secret. Dare I tell? Dare I share? There could be consequences, both long term and short term. Not the least of which is that I could be kicked off campus.

To finish reading this, as well as the works of all other contributors, purchase Variations on an Undisclosed Location: 2022 Prison Writing Awards Anthology here.