Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov

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 expression for the country’s incarcerated population. Manuscripts come to the Prison Writing Program in a variety of forms: Some are handwritten, some are typed, some are written in the margins of legal documents. Prizes of $250, $150, $100, and $25 are awarded for first, second, third place, and honorable mention, respectively, in each of the following categories:


First Place

Susan Rosenberg, “Prison Transfer—War

Second Place

Stephen Wayne Anderson, “Friday Crabs”

Third Place

Michael E. Saucier, “Cut Partner”


Honorable Mentions

James L. Able, “Nothing Under the Sun”

Judith Clark, “womb/tomb”

Stephan Erway, “In My Eyes”

James Jennings, “Post-1984”

H.B. Johnson, Jr., “Charlie Ford”

John D. Ketzner, “Caerimonia August”

Joseph Liuzzao, “Long Look”

Bill Miller, “Upon Release”

Glen M. Rhinehart, “Home”

Paul Thompson, “Jackie Lee”



First Place

Judee Norton, “J. Norton #59900”

Second Place

David Wood, “The Theory Of Flight”

Third Place (tie)

Kimberly Anderson, “Crimson Offering”

Bernice Price, “Memories of My Youth”


Honorable Mentions

Stephen E. Fraley, “Showdown”

Kevin D. Hicks, “Dark Angel or the Confession of an Angry Nigger”

Richard Earl Young, “Something Happened at the Water Fountain”



First Place

Victor Hassine, “An Interview With George”

Second Place

Born Allah, “Sanctioned by Statute”

Third Place (tie)

Charles Norman, “Booty Ban: How to Avoid Prison Rape”

Pedro Laureano, “Dear Mario Cuomo”

Adam Starchild, “Rape as Punishment”


Honorable Mentions

Charles Doss, “Come Fly With Me”

Robert Dozier, “Inmate Savings in Corrections”

Joseph Fasciani, “What Do We Do When We Write Poetry”

Mujahid Farid, “Life Skills (AIDS Education)”

Lance Fleming, “Until I Go Blind”

Stephan Fraley, “Life of a Prison Gang”

Gregory Miller, “One and Twenty Wake-Up”

Robert J. Moriarty, “Déjà Vu”

Gary A. Parker, “Untitled”

Paul St. John, “Mythology of Modern Man”

Armando Simon, “Wither Nobel?”

Billy Sinclair, “The Death Penalty: A Legacy of Violence and Racism”

Paul Thompson, “War of Innocence”

W.E. Waters, “The Clemency Conundrum”


Special Honorable Mentions

Michael Conroy, “A Shau Ambush”

Gerald Duperry, “God’s Hidden Beauty”

Michael Lasko, “The Moment of Change”

Eddie Risda, “The Uncredited Heroes”

David Wood, “Ezra Means Sunrise”



First Place

Carol E. Goldblatt, “Shootin’ from Half-Court”

Second Place

W.E. Waters, “Phonetalk”

Third Place (tie)

Stephan Fraley, “Visiting Day”

Billy Sinclair, “Death At Midnight”


Honorable Mentions

Jeffrey Betsch, “Your Choice”

Victor Hassine, “Circles of Nod”

H.B. Johnson, Jr., “The Print Shop”

Deborah Juntti, “A Bottle”

Michael Kershaw & Scott Smith, “Shadows of a Man”

Michael Saucier, “Thinking Twice”

Eugene Varnado, “Save the Last Dance For Me”

David Wood, “Cowhall Blues”