Break Out: A 2019 PEN America Prison Writing Awards Celebration

Wednesday, September 18, 2019
7:30pm - 9:30pm
St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery
131 East 10th Street, New York, NY


Event of Note:

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 JeffersonShaun LeonardoT Kira MaddenCortney Lamar CharlestonCecilia GentiliRachel Eliza Griffiths, and actors from Rehabilitation Through the Arts’ alumni theater group, including Edwin Santana, Tamika Graham, Brigitte Harris, and Milton Jones.

Additionally, announcing the new PEN America L’Engle-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 P.M. Dunne, Edward Ji, Sean Thomas Dunne, Vaughn 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 two 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.