DREAMing Out Loud

Dreaming Out Loud banner

DREAMing Out Loud is a series of tuition-free writing workshops for young, undocumented students from the City University of New York, who came to the United States when they were children. The program seeks to counter the anti-immigrant sentiment on the rise in the United States and to amplify the voices of many living in this country who are marginalized because of their immigration status. It is also a potent and beautiful example of our dual mission to celebrate literature and defend free expression.

Under the tutelage of Álvaro Enrigue and other writers, participants develop original short stories, poetry, and/or personal essays, which are performed at public readings. The program helps to build a diverse talent pipeline for these publishing and writing industries, and empowers DREAMers to use their voices to counter misinformation about immigrants. The program was founded by Enrigue and PEN America.

Read the Stories of Student Dreamers

PEN America has hosted these writing workshops since 2016. Thanks to support from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and a Mayor’s Cultural Impact Grant from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the program was significantly expanded in the first half of 2019. The writing of participants in the most recent workshops are now collected in the new anthology, Dreaming Out Loud: Voices of Undocumented Students.

DREAMers. There are perhaps few other groups we hear so much about yet hear so little from. Dreaming Out Loud changes that. The 58 personal essays, short stories, and poems here give us insight in to the challenges, hopes, and, yes, dreams, of young people trying to make sense of the puzzle of their lives, their identity, their future. There are deeply personal reflections on the journey to a new country and poignant recollections of the loved ones, languages, and cultures they left behind. We see their fears and anxieties alongside their joys and triumphs. We see moments of sadness alongside flourishes of wit and vivacity. And throughout, we see strength and resolve, and the kind of dignity that should make every American honored to call them one of us.

This anthology includes an introduction by DREAMing Out Loud director and co-founder, award-winning novelist and essayist Álvaro Enrigue, who, along with writers Charlie Vázquez and Lisa Ko, taught and mentored the students.

All author names have been published with the consent of the authors. Some names have been changed.

PEN America X Vice Media Present: DREAM To Tell

cupped hands from the DREAM to Tell visual media project

How do our stories live in our bodies?

In this visual project, student DREAMers explore this question’s inherent possibilities, using their own creative writing as a template.

Developed as part of PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud writing workshops, DREAM to Tell seeks to elevate the voices of young aspiring writers from New York City who are undocumented and have been marginalized due to their immigration status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or for being perceived as “other.”

As a collaborative venture, DREAM to Tell takes an experimental approach to visual representation, as participants work actively with storytelling and film professionals to translate their stories onscreen.

Watch the DREAM to Tell videos here.