PEN American Center

This is about the PEN center for the Eastern half of the USA. For the Western half see PEN Center USA

PEN American Center (PEN), founded in 1922 and based in New York City, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. The Center has a membership of 3,300 writers, editors, and translators. PEN American Center is the largest of the 144 centers that belong to International PEN, the worldwide association of writers that defends those who are harassed, imprisoned and killed for their views.[1] PEN American Center is one of two PEN centers located in the USA, the other is PEN Center USA in Los Angeles, it covers the USA west of the Mississippi.

Full membership in PEN generally requires the publication of two or more books of a literary character or one book that has won a major prize. Editors with a career of five years or more are also eligible, as are many publishers, agents, and other members of the literary profession. Recently, PEN created an associate tier of membership, which is open to the general public.[2]

Over the years, PEN American Center's membership has included many of the leading lights in the American literary establishment, including James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Thomas Mann, Arthur Miller, Marianne Moore, Susan Sontag, Paul Auster, Salman Rushdie and John Steinbeck.

In addition to defending persecuted writers, PEN American Center sponsors public literary programs and forums on current issues, sends prominent authors to inner-city schools to encourage reading and writing, administers literary prizes, promotes international literature that might otherwise go unread in the United States, and offers grants and loans to writers facing financial or medical emergencies.

PEN is also a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of nongovernmental organizations that monitors free expression violations worldwide and defends journalists, writers, human rights activists and Internet users who are persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.


PEN World Voices Festival

Since 2005, PEN American Center has hosted the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York City, which brings renowned writers from around the world together to share ideas, give public readings and talks, and foster debate on literature and freedom of expression.[3]

Awards program

PEN American Center has an extensive program of annual awards and fellowships that serve to recognize recent outstanding endeavours in various literary fields and to encourage different forms of literary production:

  • PEN Beyond Margins Award, for books by authors of color.
  • PEN Translation Prize, for book-length translations from any language into English.
  • PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, for book-length translations from any language into English.
  • PEN Publisher Award, for publishers in general.
  • PEN/Translation Fund Grants, available since 2004 to support the translation of book-length works of fiction or creative non-fiction that have either not previously appeared in English, or have appeared only in an egregiously flawed translation.
  • PEN Writers Fund, an emergency fund for professional writers with serious financial difficulties.[4]
  • PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction
  • PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers whose début works are deemed to show "great promise".
  • PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award
  • PEN/Nora Magid Award, for magazine publishing.
  • PEN/Malamud Award, annual award for excellence in the art of the short story.
  • PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, for literary translators who have shown "a commitment to excellence".
  • PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, for children's or young-adult fiction.
  • PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award
  • PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award
  • PEN/Nabokov Award, for writers who have made achievements "in a variety of literary genres".
  • PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, for emerging poets.
  • PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Awards for Drama: a medal for an accomplished dramatist, and a stipend for an up-and-coming playwright.
  • PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, for U.S. poets with a "notable and accomplished presence".
  • PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing, established in 2011.

PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers

PEN America is a semi-annual literary journal that publishes fiction, poetry, conversation, criticism, and memoir. It was founded in 2000, and named one of that year's "Ten Best New Magazines" by Library Journal. Work from recent issues has been selected for Best American Essays (of The Best American Series) and the Pushcart Prize. Contributors include Paul Auster, Michael Cunningham, Nikki Giovanni, Marilynne Robinson, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sontag, John Edgar Wideman, and many others. [5]

PEN Prison Writing Program

Founded in 1971, the PEN Prison Writing Program believes in the restorative and rehabilitative power of writing, by providing hundreds of inmates across the country with skilled writing teachers and audiences for their work. The program seeks to provide a place for inmates to express themselves freely with paper and pen and to encourage the use of the written word as a legitimate form of power. The program sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free handbook for prisoners, provides one-on-one mentoring to inmates whose writing shows merit or promise, conducts workshops for former inmates, and seeks to get inmates' work to the public through literary publications and readings.[6]

See also


  1. ^ PEN American Center - About
  2. ^ PEN American Center - Become a Member
  3. ^ PEN World Voices
  4. ^ PEN American Center Writers Fund
  5. ^ PEN America Journal
  6. ^ Prison Writing Program

External links

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