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DREAMing Out Loud is a paid, tuition-free creative writing workshop series for young immigrant writers, primarily those who are undocumented, DACA recipients, and/or DREAMers who came to the United States when they were children. By providing community and professional support to the next generation of immigrant writers, the program seeks to counter anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and to amplify the voices of many living in this country who are marginalized because of their immigration status.

In workshops led by established writers from immigrant backgrounds, 40 participants are provided a modest stipend ($200) to develop original fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and plays to perform at public readings and to publish in various print and digital formats, including our annual anthology. The program also helps build a pipeline to publishing and theatre industries in New York City, empowering DREAMers to develop their own unique artistic voice and craft to ensure that any future literary canon will include their stories, perspectives, and lived experiences. Participants receive access to resources tailored for immigrant artists, including at least one author-led talkback about writing and publishing each year.

To learn more about the program, including how to enroll or make a donation, email the program director, Jared Jackson ([email protected]).

DREAMing Out Loud is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).


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Read the Stories of Student DREAMers

Book cover for Dreaming Out Loud, featuring a line drawing of a woman's face with flowers and butterfliesWhat do you miss the most about the community you left behind? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? How does your experience compare to your expectations? These are just a handful of the questions explored in DREAMing Out Loud: An Anthology of Migrant Writing. The fourth volume of this anthology series includes 23 new daring short stories, plays, personal essays, and poems by writers from Venezuela, Nigeria, Japan, Mexico, Guyana, Colombia, and beyond. This annual offering features original writing from DREAMing Out Loud, PEN America’s tuition-free writing workshop series for young undocumented and immigrant authors in New York City. Writing without reservation, they shine a light on immigrant lives, at once revealing to readers the universality of their shared encounters, while also highlighting the particularity of each individual. Empowered to develop and share their own unique artistic voice and craft, this collection ensures that the American contemporary literary canon will include their stories, perspectives, and lived experiences.  

The fourth volume in this anthology series includes an introduction by the playwright and writer Cherry Lou Sy, who taught DREAMing Out Loud workshops alongside writer and program founder Álvaro Enrigue, writer Charlie Vázquez, writer Hannah Kingsley-Ma, and playwright Victor I. Cazares. 

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

Teaching Artists

Álvaro Enrigue, Photo Credit: Daniel Mordzinski

Álvaro Enrigue

Álvaro Enrigue is the director and founder of PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud Program since 2016. He was a Cullman Center Fellow at The New York Public Library and a member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte in Mexico. His work has appeared in The New York Times, El País, The Believer, Letras Libres, The New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books, among others. He is the author of five novels, two books of short stories, and one book of literary criticism, published by Anagrama in Spanish and Dalkey Archive Press and Riverhead Books in English. His novel Sudden Death, first published in Spain as Muerte súbita in 2013, was awarded the prestigious Premio Herralde award in Spain, the Elena Poniatowska International Novel Award in Mexico, and the Barcelona Prize for Fiction. He currently serves on the faculty of the MFA in Creative Writing for Writers of Spanish program at Hofstra University. Enrigue was born in Mexico and lives in New York City. Photo Credit: Daniel Mordzinski

Cherry Lou Sy

Cherry Lou Sy

Cherry Lou Sy has been a teaching artist for DREAMing Out Loud since 2020. She is a Chinese Filipino writer, playwright, and performer originally from the Philippines. Her work has been developed/presented in La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Rising Circle Theater Collective, Letter of Marque Theater Co., Brooklyn College, the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts, Wild Project, The Brick, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Tank, and The Public Theater. She was a finalist/semifinalist for the The Public Theater’s 2020 Emerging Writers Group, 2020 Thomas Barbour Playwrights Award, 2020 Pipeline Theater’s PlaySpace program, 2020 Ars Nova Fellowship, the 2018 SPACE on Ryder Farm’s Working Farm residency, and the 2017 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and nominated for the 2018 Cherry Lane Theatre’s Mentor Project. She performed and devised in Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements series and received her MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, where she is also a lecturer in the English and American Studies Departments. She is co-artistic director of the International Minor Feelings Trading Company (aka Trade Co).

Charlie Vázquez

Charlie Vázquez

Charlie Vázquez has been a DREAMing Out Loud teaching artist since 2018. He is the author of the novels Buzz and Israel (2005, Fireking Press) and Contraband (2010, Rebel Satori Press) as well as Fantasmas: Puerto Rican Tales of the Dead (Carlos Vazquez, 2020), a short story collection inspired by family folklore. His writing also appears in the graphic novel collection Ricanstruction (Somos Arte, 2018), which donates proceeds to hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. Vázquez’s work was also included in Crashing Cathedrals (ITNA, 2019), an anthology featuring essays written by authors on their favorite Edmund White books. He’s the former New York City coordinator for Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra and was awarded a Commendation from the City of New York in 2014 for his contributions to Latino literary heritage. Currently, he’s developing a portfolio of feature-length screenplays, treatments, and short films adapted from his fiction. He lives in the Bronx.

Victor I. Cazares

Victor I. Cazares

Victor I. Cazares is the newest teaching artist for DREAMing Out Loud as of 2021. They are a non-binary Poz Queer Indigenous Mexican Artist (Enby PQIMA for short) who has had stints at Yale University, Brown University, and other less prestigious centers of rehabilitation. Like any border child, they were born twice: once in El Paso, TX and another in San Lorenzo, Chihuahua. Cazares lives, forages, and produces their own social media telenovelas in Portland, OR. Their virtual plays, Pinching Pennies with Penny Marshall and Holiday Follies, premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop earlier this season where they are the Tow Playwright-in-Residence. Other plays include: American (Tele)Visions, Ramses contra los monstruos, We Were Eight Years in Powder, and When We Write With Ashes.

Claudia Rueda

Claudia Rueda

Claudia Rueda is a Colombian author and a New York Times bestselling illustrator of over thirty picture books for children. Rueda's books have been published in the United States, Mexico, and Spain and have been translated into fifteen different languages for Asia and Europe. She’s a 2016 Hans Christian Andersen and Astrid Lindgren Awards nominee. Claudia went to Law and Art school and worked as a political cartoonist in Colombia. She also studied Children’s Book Illustration at UC Berkeley and she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University at Cambridge, MA. Claudia frequently presents at international Children’s Books conferences and she’s been invited to teach her Picture Book Narrative workshop by several universities and other institutions in the US, Europe, and Latin America.

Past Events

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PEN America X Vice Media Present: DREAM To Tell

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 »

2020 DREAMing Out Loud Virtual Reading & Book Release

Watch student DREAMers perform their work »

DREAMing Out Loud at the 2018 World Voices Festival

Watch student DREAMers perform their work at the 2018 World Voices Festival »