Alex Tretbar was awarded 1st Place in Poetry in the 2022 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population.


The hundred

I wuz heres. You’d think

every human who walked

the earth was born in that room

the way it trembled

with scuttled memories

some of which I recognized.

And sometimes I forgot my name

was also a word:



or asylum.

To finish reading this, as well as the works of all other contributors, purchase Variations on an Undisclosed Location: 2022 Prison Writing Awards Anthology here.