PEN America Los Angeles
Who We Are
In 1922, a group of American writers, including (but not limited to) Arthur Bullard, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, John Galsworthy, and Mary Heaton Vorse established the PEN American Center in New York City. In 1981, PEN Center USA West was founded in Los Angeles, with a parallel commitment to the defense of free expression and commitment to nurturing the vital literary community on the West Coast, with special programs designed to serve students and early career writers underrepresented in publishing. In 2018, as the literary community faced new challenges to free speech, press freedom, and the right to dissent, the two organizations joined forces in order to consolidate resources and respond to the moment with greater strength, together.
Since the unification, PEN America has continued to grow into a prominent and frequently cited literary organization in the United States, with a strong history of literary programming and support for writers of all backgrounds. Today, the PEN America Los Angeles office is dedicated to implementing the full array of PEN America programs, including those that celebrate literary excellence, engage the creative community, highlight the power of the written word to transform culture, and advocate for the policies and conditions that enable artistic expression.
What We Do
PEN America’s Los Angeles office brings the full portfolio of PEN’s work and programs to Los Angeles, including:
PEN America Los Angeles celebrates the power of the written word by bringing together writers and readers for conversations, readings, workshops, and celebrations.
- PEN Out Loud: Convening vital public conversations with authors, poets, journalists, artists, and activists.
- Emerging Voices Workshops: Offering intensive writing workshops and professional development sessions for early-career writers from communities underrepresented in publishing.
- You Are A Writer: Presenting editors, agents, and authors for candid conversations about the writer’s life and the business of books.
- SoCal Literary Coalition: Bringing together non-profit literary arts organizations in SoCal for mutual support, resource sharing, and mutual advocacy.
- World Voices Festival: Uniting writers and readers to celebrate the freedom to write for all and to facilitate dialogue among international writers, artists, and activists.
A vital part of our Los Angeles community, we curate activities and events which specifically engages our members and their work.
- New Year, New Books: An event to ring in the new year and celebrate the new works by our PEN America members.
- Member Happy Hours: Quarterly mixers where members can gather with fellow writers to meet, reconnect, cheer each other on, and discuss current projects and challenges.
- Learning Engagements: Opportunities to engage with our local community in bilateral educational and professional development events.
Free Expression Advocacy
Our office acts as a beacon and a vessel for free expression advocacy in the Greater Los Angeles area, engaging in student advocacy, research projects, and educational events.
- Next Gen PEN: Student advocacy workshops and summits around the greater SoCal region
- Banned Books: Continuing the fight against educational censorship and book bans in California, as well as supporting the work nationwide.
- Community Engagement: Grant programs from PEN to alleviate acute financial stress of writers across a variety of context-specific or general need issues.
- Regional Advocacy: Partnering with other advocacy organizations in California and nationwide, our office works to further the mission of free expression for our communities.
Our office works on development and fundraising efforts through a variety of foundational and governmental avenues.
- Author’s Evenings
- Fundraising Events
- Institutional Fundraising
Our team works to connect the unique needs of the community of Los Angeles and greater California to PEN’s mission, serving with a freedom of expression focus that reflects and refracts the contexts and cultures of our home. We believe in the expansion of the literary world to include different geographies, backgrounds, and stories as this livens our democracy, championing free expression for all.