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About

About »

 

For the last 90 years, PEN American Center has been working to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others. Together with our colleagues in the international PEN community, we have been bringing down barriers to free expression and reaching across borders to celebrate, through writing, our common humanity.


Known globally for our efforts to defend writers endangered because of their work, and for the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, PEN American Center runs a full range of programs to expand the freedom to write and celebrate the vital and universal power of literature. In doing so, we are building on a tradition begun in the years following World War I and carried forward by thousands of American writers.


Our strength is our membership, a nationwide community of novelists, journalists, editors, poets, essayists, playwrights, publishers, translators, agents, and other professionals, and an even larger network of devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN’s mission and work. 


Read The PEN Charter to learn more about our mission. 

Membership »

Join PEN and get directly involved with an international community of writers, editors, translators, and readers who are working to defend free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture. Benefits include individual authors pages on PEN.org, discounted tickets to the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, invitations to Members Only events, access to health insurance at group rates as well as  discounted subscriptions to PEN's Grants & Awards Database, the most comprehensive directory of its kind.  
 

Become a Member

PEN American Center »

PEN American Center, Inc. is a 501(c ) 3 corporation registered in New York. We hold tax-exempt status. For more information, view our annual reports:

Annual Reports:

For financial information please contact Robyn DesHotel at 212-334-1660, ext. 102; RDesHotel [at] pen.org

Programs »


Freedom to Write
The Freedom to Write Program defends writers and protects free expression in the United States and around the world.
 

World Voices Festival
Each spring, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature showcases work of writers from around the world in a cross-cultural celebration of the written word. Chaired by Salman Rushdie, the Festival has featured such luminaries as Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Umberto Eco, Ian McEwan, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
 

Literary Awards
PEN confers over $150,000 to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.
 

Open Book
The Open Book Program celebrates literature as a reflection of diversity in American literary culture, and society at large.
 

Translation
The PEN Translation Committee advocates for literary translators, working to foster a wider understanding of their art and offering professional resources and support for translators, publishers, critics and others with an interest in international literature.
 

Readers & Writers
Through Readers & Writers, New York City public high school students interact with authors: panels, writing/reading workshops; and the Writing Institute.
 

Prison Writing
The Prison Writing program sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free handbook for prisoners, and provides one-on-one mentoring to inmates.
 

Children's/Young Adult Authors Committee
The Children’s/YA Committee meets monthly to discuss topics such as censorship and diversity. We support authors whose books have been challenged, sponsor school visits in New Orleans and NYC, plan public programs, and administer the PEN children's book awards.
 

PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers

PEN’s literary journal publishes fiction, poetry, memoir, and conversations. It champions international authors and invites them to contribute to provocative forums.
 

The Writers' Fund
The PEN Writers’ Fund provides financial assistance to professionally published writers and editors facing acute financial crisis.