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Prison & Justice Writing

For more than four decades, PEN America’s Prison Writing Program has amplified the writing of thousands of imprisoned writers by providing free resources, skilled mentors, and audiences for their writing. We are proud to share our deepening commitment to confronting our era of mass incarceration with the launch of the PEN America Writing For Justice Fellowship. Read below for more information about our initiatives.

For information on writing programs in prison across the United States, check out our living document database

 

Insanity

"Purple mountains rise in the distance, / Disrupted by coils of razor wire / Freedom only time can purchase / Brought here, branded a liar." More

The Storm

"Like the clouds are killing each other: / Battleships, anvils, Jesus Christ. / Blind with awe, I cannot sleep, / Beholding worlds within worlds, afire." More

Conflagration

"I felt a line of saliva fall out of my numbing mouth while I stared at the bright red bumps of the stings on my ankles. I don't remember… More

sYmantyX

"You've created a program that mines and tracks collective consciousness. Do you realize what this could mean to group dynamics?" More

The Swallow War

"This singular edifice sits in the center of the prison; it's open air and we call it the plaza. There are a couple of trees, some sickly grass, and… More

Freedom Feather

"I don't know if inmate Sanchez turned into a bird or not. It is interesting to imagine, isn't it, spending your life soaring where the air tastes the way… More

An Ungodly Godlike Man

"Not only can I hear everything, but I can feel the vibration against the thin metal wall as they wrestle with the prisoner inside the sardine can of a… More