Community Engagement and Workshops
The NYC Literary Action Coalition aims to create an activism network of NYC-based literary members to build the community’s capacity to mobilize on behalf of free expression and social justice issues.
The mission of the Literary Action Coalition is to bring forward the voice and views of the literary community through activism that defends free expression; underscores the power of literature; promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion; and advances social justice. The partners for the coalition include professional literary organizations, community and campus literary groups, independent bookstores and publishers, arts organizations with literary programs, performance spaces, and individual writers and literary professionals.
PEN in the Community (PITC), based in Los Angeles, brings professional writers into underserved schools and communities in two ways: through our Writer in Residence program and through our Guest Speaker program.
The PITC Writer in Residence program is a generative writing workshop that takes place in a classroom, community center, nonprofit organization, shelter, or reservation over the course of 6 to 12 weeks.
The PITC Guest Speaker program connects professional writers to schools and communities for a one-time visit to talk to students and community members personally about the life of a writer, answer questions, and read from their work.
DREAMing Out Loud, based in New York, was created by PEN America in an effort to counter the anti-immigrant sentiment on the rise in the United States and to amplify the voices of many living in this country who are marginalized because of their immigration status. It is also a potent and beautiful example of our dual mission to celebrate literature and love of writing in defense of free expression.
PEN America offers tuition-free writing workshops year-round to student DREAMers, in which participants develop original short stories, poetry, and/or personal essays—under the tutelage of writer Álvaro Enrigue—to be performed at public readings. The program helps to build a diverse talent pipeline for these industries, and empowers DREAMers to use their voices to counter misinformation about immigrants.
Based in New York, the Worker Writers Workshops cultivate the writing skills of domestic workers, taxi drivers, street vendors, and others. Worker Writers, an institute founded and directed by poet Mark Nowak, organizes and facilitates poetry workshops with global trade unions, workers’ centers, and other progressive labor organizations. These workshops create a space for participants to re-imagine their working lives, nurture new literary voices directly from the global working class, and produce new tactics and imagine new futures for working class social change. For the past seven years, Worker Writers has facilitated annual workshops for the PEN World Voices Festival.
The Press Freedom Incentive Fund, part of the PEN Across America initiative, supports new initiatives to invigorate local communities with ideas, information, questions, and discourse around press freedom defense. Proposals may center on events, panel discussions, campaigns, outreach efforts, educational initiatives, workshops, media outlet partnerships, and other formats that can be effective in building local press freedom constituencies.
The Fund calls on Members and activists outside the major coastal metropolitan areas to join us in this effort, devising ways to engage and activate their communities.