Mission: To unite writers and their allies in celebrating creative expression and defending the liberties that make such expression possible.
About the Organization: Founded in 1922, PEN America is the U.S. affiliate of the world's leading international literary and human rights organization, PEN International. As the largest of more than a hundred PEN centers around the globe, PEN America — with the support of journalists, novelists, poets, essayists, playwrights, translators, editors, publishers, literary agents, and devoted readers — works to ensure that people have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.
Current Programs: At the center of PEN America's work are its Free Expression Programs, which include advocacy efforts in defense of creative expression, with priority campaigns in Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Myanmar, and Russia; tracking and defending writers at risk of harassment, attack, detention, arrest, conviction, imprisonment, and even assassination; and the Artists at Risk Coalition, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create a global network of organizations and resources that can provide immediate help when artists are threatened or in peril. The organization also mounts Rapid Action campaigns urging supporters to write to governments on behalf of writers at risk and publishes reports detailing instances of government censorship and their impact on journalism and creative expression.
Founded in 1971, the PEN Prison Writing Program provides hundreds of inmates across the U.S. with one-on-one mentoring and writing workshops; the program also promotes inmates' work through an annual writing contest. The organization also publishes and/or sponsors the annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature; PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers; various literary awards; Glossolalia, a journal of writing in translation; and the Writer's Emergency Fund, which provides assistance of up to $2,000 to published writers experiencing an acute financial crisis.
Website: Visitors to the PEN America website can keep up with the latest news from the organization or stay abreast of developments via its blog; browse an events calendar; and/or sign up for e-updates. In addition, visitors can check out the weekly PEN Poetry Series, interviews with writers, or "The M Word," a project launched in 2016 with funding from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art to elevate, amplify, and celebrate the voices of Muslim writers and artists; spread the word about writers at risk and the need to defend the right of free expression; take action by writing a letter as part of a Rapid Action campaign; become a PEN member, and/or make a donation.
Funding: PEN America is funded by members, foundations, corporations, and individuals.