As I Hear the Rain: 2019 Prison Writing Awards Anthology

2019 prison writing anthology cover image

For over three decades, every year hundreds of imprisoned writers from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Awards, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. This, the 2nd annual volume of the Prison Writing Awards Anthology celebrates great writing in a beautiful print collection.

This Anthology features illustrations from Tamara Santibañez, Jeremy Wilson, Tara Layer, Andrew Romero and Lafayette Watts, and is showcased in Illustrated PEN.


Available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback

Praise for As I Hear the Rain

This essential anthology reminds us that there is a light that cannot be shuttered even in our darkest institutions. The writers of these poems, stories, essays and plays resist through their very being and in their willingness to see clearly all the harshness around them. Here are brilliant minds at work. Here is work that demands to be read right now. This is a pivotal collection created by artists we must never forget. 
—Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Author of Friday Black

The existence of this work is a triumph. The quality, astonishing. Here’s a book that will remind you of art’s purpose, voices singing and ascending beyond circumstance or serial number. Every word is an education and a miracle.
—T Kira Madden
Author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Incarcerated Americans are our most silenced demographic in the country. At best we hear their formal pleas in a courtroom, and occasionally the letters they lob over the electrified walls to loved ones. Overwise, they’re muzzled by the decades of harsh policies and practices that now make up our prison system.  The voices in this book provide a window into the pain, humor, humanity, and courage inside our prison system. If you want to understand what “justice” means in 21 century America, you have to listen to these voices. 
—Kyle Swenson
Author of Good Kids, Bad City: A Story of Race and Wrongful Conviction in America

So much respect for language and dancing math reveal in these works a minor omniscience. In a society of living remains, these writers have to chosen to cradle nurture and protect even the smallest ghosts. I would gladly commend my story to their hands. To incarcerate one person is to incarcerate the world. There is only an earth because there is a pen in their hands.
—Tongo Eisen-Martin
Author of Heaven Is All Goodbyes

Reading this anthology I’m reminded of my time in a state prison, those days where I looked to writing as a kind of succor, as a way to stay connected to the world. I’m inspired by the level of craft evident in these pages, by the depth and dynamism on display, and also by the miraculous will it must’ve taken to produce such work. Each piece is testament not only to the immense talent that lives behind the walls but to the power of art to connect one human to another. Read it—now.
—Mitchell S. Jackson
Author of Survival Math