PEN in the Community
PEN in the Community (PITC) brings professional writers into underserved schools and communities in two ways: through our Writer in Residence program and through our Guest Speaker program.
The PITC Writer in Residence program is a generative writing workshop that takes place in a classroom, community center, nonprofit organization, shelter, or reservation over the course of 6 to 12 weeks. Written work collected during the residency is published by PEN America Los Angeles in PITC anthologies, which are windows into participants’ lives—their struggles, hopes, and experiences. PITC teaching artists are selected from PEN America Los Angeles’ diverse membership to best match the needs of the community where they will teach. An interested writer may also apply to become a PITC teaching artist and subsequently become a PEN America Los Angeles member. All PITC teaching artists must also be PEN America Los Angeles members.
In preparation for a PITC Writer in Residence program, PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders attend a day of training at the PEN America Los Angeles office. Then, in collaboration with the teacher or community leader, the PITC teaching artist develops a PITC CURRICULUM, with the goal of helping the participants complete a solid body of creative writing work. Throughout the semester, the PITC program coordinator makes visits to each school or community center and communicates with all PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders on a weekly basis.
The program culminates with the publication of an anthology of participant work, and a public reading for all participating schools and communities in December and May.
The PITC Guest Speaker program connects professional writers to schools and communities for a one-time visit to talk to students and community members personally about the life of a writer, answer questions, and read from their work. Visits can be in person or via Skype.
PITC teaching artists collaborate closely with partner schools and community sites to develop a tailored curriculum that meets the needs of the participants. For schools, the program begins with a professional development session focused on integrating creative writing into core curriculum.
The program consists of 1-2 workshops per week taught over 8-12 weeks by the PITC teaching artist in fall or spring.
Participant work at schools and community sites is collected by the PITC teaching artist throughout the residency and published by PEN America Los Angeles in a cumulative anthology. The anthology is presented at a final public reading for all participating schools and communities.
PITC teaching artists sit down with the host teacher or community site leader at the beginning of the residency to create a schedule that works best. Classes usually last one to two hours. Fall classes end two weeks or more before the final reading date in December; spring classes end two weeks or more before the final reading date in May.
If you are a teacher or work at a nonprofit or community center and would like to request a PITC Writer in Residence, please email the LA Programs Coordinator Natalie Green for more information at [email protected].
If you are a writer and interested in becoming a PITC teaching artist, please email the LA Programs Coordinator Natalie Green for more information at [email protected].
For schools or sites that don’t have the capacity to host an 8-12 week residency but would like to have a professional writer talk to students and community members, PITC’s volunteer Guest Speakers will arrange a one-time visit.
Though most of our participating writers live in Los Angeles, schools and community sites outside of LA can still participate via Skype. If you are a teacher or community site leader and would like to request a PITC guest speaker, please email the LA Programs Coordinator Natalie Green at [email protected].
If you are a writer and would like to volunteer to become a PITC guest speaker, please email the LA Programs Coordinator Natalie Green for more information at [email protected].
California Arts Council Activating Artists In Communities
California State Library Civil Liberties Foreign Americans
City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Rosenthal Family Foundation
Jamie and David Wolf
PEN in the Community: California State Prison, Los Angeles County, Fall 2018
In Fall of 2018, PEN in the Community writers-in-residence program hosted an eight-week-long storytelling workshop at California State Prison, LA County. More