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PEN American Center

PEN American Center

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PEN American Center founded in 1922 and based in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, works to advance literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. The Center has a membership of 3,300 writers, editors
Editors
Editors are a British indie rock band based in Birmingham, who formed in 2002. Previously known as Pilot, The Pride and Snowfield, the band consists of Tom Smith , Chris Urbanowicz , Russell Leetch and Ed Lay .Editors have so far released two platinum studio...

, and translators. PEN American Center is the largest of the 144 centers that belong to International PEN
International PEN
PEN International , the worldwide association of writers, was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere....

, the worldwide association of writers that defends those who are harassed, imprisoned and killed for their views. 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.

Over the years, PEN American Center's membership has included many of the leading lights in the American literary establishment, including James Baldwin
James Baldwin (writer)
James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

, Willa Cather
Willa Cather
Willa Seibert Cather was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours , a novel set during World War I...

, Robert Frost
Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and...

, Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance...

, Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann
Thomas Mann was a German novelist, short story writer, social critic, philanthropist, essayist, and 1929 Nobel Prize laureate, known for his series of highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual...

, Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

, Marianne Moore
Marianne Moore
Marianne Moore was an American Modernist poet and writer noted for her irony and wit.- Life :Moore was born in Kirkwood, Missouri, in the manse of the Presbyterian church where her maternal grandfather, John Riddle Warner, served as pastor. She was the daughter of mechanical engineer and inventor...

, Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag was an American author, literary theorist, feminist and political activist whose works include On Photography and Against Interpretation.-Life:...

, Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

, Salman Rushdie and John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden and the novella Of Mice and Men...

.

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
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
The International Freedom of Expression eXchange , founded in 1992, is a global network of around 90 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression....

, 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
PEN World Voices
PEN World Voices: The New York Festival of International Literature was launched in 2005. PEN World Voices is a week-long literary festival in New York City. The Festival was founded by Esther Allen and Michael Roberts under then PEN President Salman Rushdie. The Festival was composed of programs,...

 Festival of International Literature in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, 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.

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
    PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
    The PEN Award for Poetry in Translation honors a poetry translation published in the preceding year.The award is separate from the similar PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize.-Winners:-See also:*American poetry*List of poetry awards...

    , 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.
  • PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction
    PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction
    The PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction is awarded by the PEN American Center "to a distinguished living American author of fiction whose body of work in English possesses qualities of excellence, ambition, and scale of achievement over a sustained career which place him or...

  • PEN/Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers whose début works are deemed to show "great promise".
  • PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award
    PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award
    The PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award honours writers anywhere in the world who have fought courageously in the face of adversity for the right to freedom of expression....

  • PEN/Nora Magid Award, for magazine publishing.
  • PEN/Malamud Award
    PEN/Malamud Award
    The PEN/Malamud Award and Memorial Reading honors "excellence in the art of the short story", and is awarded annually by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. The selection committee is composed of PEN/Faulkner directors and representatives of Bernard Malamud's literary executors.The award was first given...

    , annual award for excellence in the art of the short story.
  • PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation
    PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation
    The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation, named in honor of U.S. translator Ralph Manheim, is a literary award given every three years by PEN American Center to a translator "whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of his or her work"...

    , 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/Newman's Own First Amendment Award
    The PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award was presented each spring to a U.S. resident who has fought courageously, despite adversity, to safeguard the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as it applies to the written word. Sponsored by PEN American Center and Newman's Own, a cash prize...

  • PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award
    PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award
    The PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award is presented each spring to a U.S. resident who has fought courageously, despite adversity, to safeguard the First Amendment right to freedom of expression as it applies to the written word. Sponsored by PEN American Center and Katherine Anne...

  • PEN/Nabokov Award
    PEN/Nabokov Award
    The PEN/Nabokov Award is awarded biannually by the PEN American Center to writers, principally novelists, "whose works evoke to some measure Nabokov's brilliant versatility and commitment to literature as a search for the deepest truth and the highest pleasure— what Nabokov called the...

    , 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
    PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry
    The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry is given biennially to an American poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable and accomplished presence in American literature.Awardees:...

    , 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
PEN America
PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers is a semi-annual literary journal that publishes fiction, poetry, conversation, criticism, and memoir. It is published by PEN American Center in New York City...

 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
Library Journal
Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians. It was founded in 1876 by Melvil Dewey . It reports news about the library world, emphasizing public libraries, and offers feature articles about aspects of professional practice...

. Work from recent issues has been selected for Best American Essays (of The Best American Series) and the Pushcart Prize
Pushcart Prize
The Pushcart Prize is an American literary prize by Pushcart Press that honors the best "poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot" published in the small presses over the previous year. Magazine and small book press editors are invited to nominate up to 6 works they have featured....

. Contributors include Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

, Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham is an American writer, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999.-Early life and education:...

, Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni
Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. Her primary focus is on the individual and the power one has to make a difference in oneself and in the lives of others. Giovanni’s poetry expresses strong racial pride, respect for family, and her...

, Marilynne Robinson
Marilynne Robinson
-Biography:Robinson was born and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, and did her undergraduate work at Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown University, receiving her B.A., magna cum laude in 1966, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Ph.D...

, Salman Rushdie, Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag was an American author, literary theorist, feminist and political activist whose works include On Photography and Against Interpretation.-Life:...

, John Edgar Wideman
John Edgar Wideman
John Edgar Wideman is an American writer, professor at Brown University, and sits on the contributing editorial board of the literary journal Conjunctions.-Early life:...

, and many others.

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.

External links