Prison Writing Award Winners: 2011-2012

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned writers 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… More

Probe

Ah ... the cost and rewards of imperialism. I get a better return on a two-dollar trout fly. More

My Father’s Violin

...lying in the back of another old Chevy—a ‘50 model—I watched passing headlights pinwheel over the torn headliner, and thought of my father home in Pennsylvania, dreaming unimaginable dreams… More

Bleak Housing & Black Americans

The United States seems not merely to tolerate but actually to revel in inflicting barbaric human degradation upon prisoners—not just for months or years, but for decades and lifetimes... More

Siddharta’s Loop

I been goin’ to the Jersey shore since I was a kid and ain’t never seen a condom or syringe wash upon the sand. More

Jail Play

Here you go Frankie. Back again none too soon. Couldn’t resist coming back could you? Is it my smile? Or my size that keeps you coming back to jail?… More

How I Became My Father

“Where are you going?” my father asked, stepping out of his black GTO as I approached the Mission, a halfway house my mother forced me into after bailing me… More

After Prison

I have 10 minutes until a call-out to see the mental health case manager I call Mr. Forgiveness. I don’t want to see him, not because he is always… More

My Father’s Violin

My father played his violin every evening, standing by the upright piano in our dining room. Hearing him play was my first memory, and I can no longer recall… More