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 mentions, respectively, in each of the following categories:


First Place

Michael Saucier, “Black Flag to the Rescue”

Second Place

Judith Clark, “To Vladimir Mayakovsky”

Third Place (tie)

James Dresden, “Flies”

Lance E. Fleming, “Ordinary Pain”


Honorable Mentions

James C. Plumpton, “On the Way to Phu Bai”

Tom Manning, “East Boston”

James Jennings, “Still Life Scenery”

Stephen Wayne Anderson, “Beyond All Seasons Passing”



First Place

J.C. Amberchele, “Mel”

Second Place

Susan Rosenberg, “Lee’s Time”

Third Prize (tie)

Daniel Rosenbloom, “The Night the Owl Interrupted”

Steven Broderson, “Incident at Billfish”


Honorable Mentions

John L. Orr, “Running Springs”

Charlie W. Pyle, “The Martyr’s Legend”

Roy Dupur, “A Hero Returns From Southern Italy”

Jon M. Taylor, “Funeral in the Land Where the Sky is Never Blue”



Award Winner

John L. Orr, “Cattin Around at TI”



First Place

Jon Robert Williams, “Battle on the Border: Killing Field in the Drug Corridor”

Second Place

John P. Springs III, “Hopmeless: The Illusion of Reality”

Third Place

O’Neil Stough, “Cruel and Quite Unusual”


Honorable Mentions

John Rich, “R.D.C.”

Victor Hassine, “The Man Who Didn’t Do It”

Leslie Rodgers, “The Paradox of Individualism and the Meaning of Life: A Rhetoric of Self”

Charles P. Norman, “Too Painful to Change”



First Place

Stephen Mazzeo and Scott K. Smith, “Victims?”

Second Plae

William Eric Waters, “We Never Talk About the Past”

Third Place

Lance E. Fleming, “The Tao of Darkness”