The Named and the Nameless: 2018 Prison Writing Awards Anthology

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. For the first time, the 2018 Prison Writing Awards Anthology brings the year’s winning works together in a beautiful print collection to share with the world.

This Anthology features illustrations from Yolande Brener, Max Clotfelter, Molly Crabapple, Rachel Masilamani, Caits Meissner, and Robert Pollock which are also featured in Illustrated PEN.

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Also available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback


Praise for The Named and the Nameless

“In a culture of violence, where even language has been used to demean, abuse, and manipulate, this collection shows how language can be used to transform, change, and liberate, too. The writings and experiences found in this book are not merely windows into the lives of those behind bars, they are mirrors glaring back at each of us. They are invaluable in the fight to save the soul of this country. Still, their relevance can only be measured by our willingness to do something about it.”
Poet and Author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter

“’Write what you know’ is the oldest and wisest piece of advice for authors. And the contributors to this extraordinary anthology know the world of our prison archipelago, which they describe with passion and wisdom. But they know, and tell us, so much more. Reading it is an education in so many ways.”
Author of American Heiress: The Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst

“These writers are unforgettable. They illuminate life in captivity and while they’re at it, they expand our literature’s very margins. They craft from cells, not endowed chairs. They don’t publish for tenure, they write to stay alive in the midst of isolation and regret and in search (and deliverance) of grace and flight and, of course, of love. The result, through word and deed, is work that sears with urgency, that aches with heart, that challenges our understanding of literature and justice, and human resilience.”
Founder and Artistic Director of Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop

The Named and the Nameless is the finest example I’ve read in years that radical soulful writing must be done from the inside out. The pieces in this book brilliantly circle carcerality and freedom without ever being bogged down in convenient cliche or sentimentality. In the book’s beginning, I asked myself if these United States of America have the moral authority to incarcerate anyone. By book’s end, these breathtaking writers answer that question one verse, one sentence and one paragraph at a time. The beginnings of liberation look and feel like this book.”
Author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

“The stories told in this PEN America collection of diverse and dazzling voices reach from behind prison walls, compelling and indelible. In their plays, poems, essays, stories and memoirs these incarcerated writers share important truths and show how much talent the U.S. locks away. The men and women who write in prison depict confinement and claim freedom—theirs and ours—one word at a time.”
Author of Orange is the New Black