Publications

Read Original Literature from PEN America Publications and Programs

PEN America produces a breadth of interviews, poetry, graphic narratives, essays, translation, and book excerpts through its online series, literary awards, Prison Writing Program, World Voices Festival, and other events throughout the year. 

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PEN Poetry Series •  Prison WritingThe PEN Ten InterviewsIllustrated PEN

A Better Way

“A NATION THAT CANNOT APPLY NEW REMEDIES MUST EXPECT NEW EVILS” - Sir Francis BaconCan prisons be abolished? Not yet. There are still offenders in our prison system that… More

3:45

She says / something like this: / A torch, a line of torches, men / in plumber uniforms, in laundry jackets More

Say You’re One of Them

That night, our home began to feel like an oven. We couldn’t sleep, even though we took off all our clothes.Once we locked up, a massive heat swallowed the… More

Retired from the Game

Retired from the Game“Umm . . . excuse me, miss.” I halted the sensuous stride of the six-feet beauty of a correctional officer.“Yes?” she snapped, pausing with an attitude,… More

Buried Child

I haven’t got anything under the sofa! Now mind your own damn business! Jesus God, you come into the house outa the middle of nowhere, haven’t heard or seen… More

Marie Étienne: King of a Hundred Horsemen

Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker, who received the 2009 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Preface by Marilyn HackerMarie Étienne has always composed poetry and prose alternately or simultaneously,… More

States of Shock

CHARACTERSColonelStubbsGlory BeeWhite ManWhite WomanStubbs: MY THING HANGS LIKE DEAD MEAT!!! (Pause. White couple turns and stares at Stubbs. The Colonel ignores them. He’s busy taking several toy soldiers, tanks,… More

All the Pretty Horses

In his sleep he could hear the horses stepping among the rocks and he could hear them drink from the shallow pools in the dark where the rocks lay… More

Cities of the Plain

Well there was all these jackrabbits in the road. They’d set there and freeze in the lights. Blap. Blap. I looked over at Gene and I said: What do… More

The Road

Everything damp. Rotting. In a drawer he found a candle. No way to light it. He put it in his pocket. He walked out in the gray light and… More