(NEW YORK)– The literary and free expression organization PEN America has published the fifth volume of DREAMing Out Loud: An Anthology of Migrant Writing, a collection of original writing celebrating and uplifting stories by migrant authors in New York City.

This year’s anthology includes bold new plays, short stories, poems, essays, and, for the first time, children’s book writing complete with illustrations, by writers from around the globe—Mexico to Nigeria, Kazakhstan to Honduras, Brazil to Jamaica, South Africa to Bangladesh, and beyond.

The book gathers writings from PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud program, a tuition-free writing workshop for migrant writers, primarily those who are undocumented, DACA recipients, and/or DREAMers who came to the United States when they were children. Returning to an in person format for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the 2023 program was funded by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Additional support comes from the CUNY Mexican Studies Institute, New York Theatre Workshop, National Queer Theatre, and Drama Book Shop. 

Learn more about the book and the program here. You can purchase the book here.

“These are voices that deserve to be recognized, championed, and taken into our hearts,” said Jared Jackson, director of Literary Programs and Emerging Voices. “Their stories are unique and deeply felt, conveying the vitality of New York, their own dreams, and the complexity of settling into the city while their past still turns in their thoughts. These are writers that capture the spirit of New York, which for hundreds of years has inevitably started with inhabitants from elsewhere.”

“We are proud of our work with PEN America to empower DREAMers in the development of their own unique artistic craft and to amplify NYC’s diverse voices,” said Commissioner Pat Swinney Kaufman of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “Thank you to the writers of this latest anthology, who are providing an intimate glimpse into their personal experiences and contributing to the rich cultural history of New York City through the written word.”

The new anthology introduces readers to often overlooked narratives in the lives of New York City migrants through writing that is a testament to hope, bravery, and sheer will.

  • Jeanny Hernandez Tellez from Mexicoreflects on liberation in the poem “The Real Freedom,” writing: “Freedom is something that cannot be seen/ but felt in the soul/ when it comes it is keen / your body and mind become whole.”
  • Djbrilla Issa Hamani from Niger reflects on what attracted her to New York City in her essay “When Everything Started,” remembering: “When I decided to relocate to America, I knew that I wanted to live in New York City. The city’s distinctive mix, towering skyscrapers, and contagious vitality drew me in.”
  • Anahi K. Benitez Hilagado from Mexico addresses her younger self in the illustrated story “Dear Little Fear Girl,” instructing: Dear little fear girl: Start enjoying life, don’t think of the past or what you left behind.”

The fifth volume in the anthology series includes an introduction by Ecuadorian-American writer Stephan Sebastian Herrera, who for the past two years has taught and assisted DREAMing Out Loud workshops alongside award winning-writer and program founder Álvaro Enrigue. He writes: “Flip through the pages of the anthology and you will find that it reflects the world back to us, magnifying the larger and smaller worlds held within it: memories, dreams, nightmares, and futures. The contributors to this anthology have already lived many lives, and will live many more….Flip through the anthology again. Do you feel it? That small gust of wind? There is a new age coming, and the voices springing at you from the page–these renegades, these proud writers of the people–have foretold it.”

Additional workshops were led by writer Charlie Vázquez, writer and playwright Cherry Lou Sy, writer and illustrator Claudia Rueda, and playwright Victor I. Cazares.

In its seventh year, Dreaming Out Loud continues to empower migrant writers to develop their own artistic voice to ensure that any future literary canon includes their stories, perspectives, and lived experiences. Along with the annual anthology, participants receive access to resources tailored to migrant artists, including at least one author-led talkback about writing and publishing each year, a public reading in the PEN World Voices Festival, and a modest stipend of $200.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org