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, $50, and $25 are awarded for first, second, third place, the Dawson Prize, and honorable mentions, respectively, in each of the following categories:

 

POETRY

First Place

Karol House, “This is Where”

Second Place

Dominic Murphy,I Should’ve Taken a Right Turn at Albuquerque”

Third Place

Greg Goodman,Glimpse: Year 26, 2016

Dawson Prize

Torlando McDonald, “Run Chile Run”

 

Honorable Mentions

Brian Batchelor, Prison Proposal, Prison Wedding”

Kevin Costa, “Views”

Justin Monson, “POETICS: Mid-Summer 2016 (fragments from a freestyle)”

 

FICTION

First Place

Benito Gutierrez, “La Cadena”

Second Place

Matthew Feeney,“33 Days”

Third Place

K. Robert Schaeffer,“Of Arrestable Professions”

Dawson Prize

Matthew C. Cox, “All Wrong”

 

Honorable Mentions

Arnoldo Aguilar, “Somewhere Between Red and Green”

Natalie Lynch, “The Brain”

Edward B. Lyon Jr., “New Wave Slaves in Chinese Boots”

Derek R. Trumbo Sr., “Welcome to Your New Home, Prison”

 

ESSAY

First Place

Christopher J. Sivert,“House of the Interpreter”

Second Place

William Myrl Smitherman, “The Psychiatrist’s Visiting Interns”

Third Place

Lamarr Little, “Spinning the Yard: Social Implications of Inmates in the Hamster’s Cage”

Dawson Prize

Eric Miles Webb, “Wounded for My Own Transgressions”

 

Honorable Mentions

Burl N. Corbett, “On the Bowery, No One Knows Your Name”

Mark A. Hankerson Jr., “Transforming the Message”

Dylan Jeffrey, “Prison Journal”

 

MEMOIR

First Place

Arthur Longworth,“How to Kill Someone”

Second Place

Elizabeth Hawes, “Double Secret Probation: The Two-Week Paper Blog”

Third Place

Robert Ives, “600 Days of Silence”

 

Honorable Mentions

Victor Chunga, “In My Time”

John David Cochran, “Our Black Luck”

Ashleigh Dye, “Death: A Memoir”

 

DRAMA

First Place

William Myrl Smitherman, “Foreign Lands: A Slice of Seg”

Second Place

Steven Bond, “Vader’s Redemption”

Third Place

Dylan Jeffrey, “The Moronic Inferno: Snoring Towards Bethlehem”

Dawson Prize

Everett D. Schell, “Gun Show: A Monologue”

 

Honorable Mentions

Matthew Mendoza, “Rainbow Girls Detective Agency”

Maurice L. Ward, “For My Sistahs”

Sean J. White, “The Interview”

 

The Prison Writing Contest Prizes are sponsored by the generous support of the Greenburger Center for Social & Criminal Justice.