Elizabeth Hawes 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.


I am reading Simone Beauvior’s The Woman Destroyed. All the protagonists are angry. My friend, Jen, sent it to me along with some other books for my birthday. She told me that she hadn’t read it but liked the cover. It did have a cool cover–a bright fuchsia and green backdrop with a woman’s red lipsticked pout in the corner. I’m having a hard time focusing on the story. I heard sad news today.

I was in Medical because a cap popped off my tooth a week ago. I saved it in hopes that the prison dentist could glue it back on.

The dentist was off the week after New Year’s so I had to wait nine days to be seen. She is from India and pulls a lot of teeth. I try to avoid her for this reason. Her assistant looks like she is from another country too but sounds Midwestern. They are both pleasant. The assistant gives me X-rays with no protective safety vest. They glue my cap back on, and it looks great. When they are done, it’s count time, which means I have to stay in the medical lobby until count clears. We are counted throughout the day.

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.