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.
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.
PEN American Center »
The Free Expression Programs defend writers and protect free expression in the United States and around the world.
World Voices Festival
Each spring, the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature showcases the work of writers from around the world in a cross-cultural celebration of the written word. Chaired by Colm Tóibín, the Festival has featured such luminaries as Nadine Gordimer, Toni Morrison, Orhan Pamuk, Umberto Eco, Ian McEwan, and Mario Vargas Llosa.
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.
The 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.
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 Book Authors Committee
The Children’s/YA Book Authors Committee meets monthly to discuss topics such as censorship and diversity. The committee supports authors whose books have been challenged, sponsors school visits in New Orleans and NYC, plans public programs, and administers PEN’s children’s and YA awards.
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.