Celebrating the release of the 2019 PEN America Prison Writing Awards Anthology, PEN America and The Poetry Project present an evening of exceptional work from currently incarcerated writers, staged by a series of dynamic authors, actors and activists including Margo Jefferson, Shaun Leonardo, T Kira Madden, Cortney Lamar Charleston, Cecilia Gentili, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, actors from RTA including Edwin Santana, Tamika Graham, Brigitte Harris, Milton Jones, and Kevin Boone, with contributions from Michael Kenneth Williams.
Additionally, announcing the new PEN America L’Engel-Rahman Prize for Mentorship, special guests Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Eric Berryman will stage a dramatic performance of letters shared between author and early PEN America Prison Writing Program mentor Madeleine L'Engle and Ahmad Rahman, an incarcerated Black Panther Party leader who later became an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Audience members will be invited to participate in flash writing exercises throughout this part-show, part-interactive evening, hosted by Caits Meissner and Robert Pollock of PEN America's Prison and Justice Writing Program, and Kyle Dacuyan, Executive Director of The Poetry Project.
Featured writers include Peter M. Dunne, Edward Ji, Sean Patrick Dunne, Vaugh Walker, Christiana Justice, David Pickett, John Benjamin, Jevon Jackson, Heather Jarvis and Douglas Weed, with quotes by Sean J. White, Spoon Jackson, B. Batchelor and Charles Norman.
This event is part of a larger effort to (re)integrate incarcerated writers into literary community. Throughout the month of September, in commemoration of the Attica riots, over 2 dozen local reading series in New York City—and across the country—will feature the work of a currently incarcerated writer. Learn more about the movement here, and join us in re-envisioning where the work of justice-involved writers "belongs."