Jun
12
to Jul 24

Workshop: Poems As Prayers: Writing Toward A Just New World

Have you ever discovered that a detail you’d once magically, unwittingly predicted in a poem became suddenly true?  In this generative workshop, we’ll strive to harness that same mystical energy to write our collective future into existence— through poetry. Inspiration will be mined from movement workers, social change influencers, the inherent genius of nature’s patterns, the starfish's regenerative limb! We’ll cast hope into the universe through ritual, spellmaking, disruption and interactive poem-experiments— guided by a motley crew of visionary writers and thinkers such as adrienne maree brown, Otto Scharmer, prison abolitionists, ecopoetics, Fannie Howe, Yoko Ono, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, CA Conrad, Matthew Olzman, Eve Ewing, Ross Gay and many more.

Six Wednesdays, June 12–July 24 (skipping July 3) | 6:00-8:30pm
*Registration Deadline: Monday, June 3 


REGISTER HERE

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May
30
8:00 PM20:00

Producer & Host: Celebrating Edward Bunker

PEN America is thrilled to share The Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction, a newly named award in PEN America’s three-decade-running Prison Writing Contest, which celebrates and recognizes excellence in writing by incarcerated writers.

The PEN America/Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction awards the work of a cohort of incarcerated fiction writers who show exceptional talent and merit in the genre, and honors Mr. Bunker’s work in illuminating the tenacious path from the identity of prisoner to writer. We are proud to celebrate not only Mr. Bunker’s contribution to letters and film, but also his continued influence on a new generation of writers who show deep dedication to, and passion for, the craft of writing, and a compelling creative vision.

Celebrate the legacy of Eddie Bunker as we preview award-winning works from the 2019 winners, read by bridgette bianca, Dorothy Randall Gray, Darrell Larson, Laurie O’Brien, Laurie Okin, Christopher Soto, and Carl Weintraub. Followed by a panel discussion with Mr. Bunker’s close family and friends.

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May
11
11:00 AM11:00

Producer: A Question of Justice @ The World Voices Festival

Many Americans agree that our criminal justice system needs thorough reform—but how can public sentiment lead to effective systemic changes? This dynamic debate moderated by Andrea J. Ritchie will feature seven of PEN America’s brilliant Writing For Justice Fellows: Reginald Dwayne BettsNadja Eisenberg-GuyotKeeonna HarrisPriscilla OcenDavid SanchezBeth Shelburneand David Heska Wanbli Weiden, as well as experts in New York City-based reform efforts: Kandra ClarkMika’il DeVeauxLorenzo JonesFred PatrickMarlon Peterson, and Bianca Tylek. The conversation will use artist Lois Weaver’s experimental “Long Table” model, which fosters dialog about difficult subjects by combining the comfortable informality of a private dinner party setting with the urgency of public debate. Bring your questions, comments, and opinions, and help discuss this defining issue of our time.

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May
9
7:00 PM19:00

Producer & Host: Exposure: on writing in prison @ The World Voices Festival

What risks do incarcerated writers face when their words travel beyond prison walls? And how do audiences of their work read, honor, and bear witness without assuming voyeuristic or exploitative perspectives? The PEN America Prison Writing Program commissioned currently incarcerated writers to reflect on these and other tensions between the realm of public readership and the often hidden creative life in prison. Dynamic authors, poets, activists, and actors Mahogany L. BrowneAja MonetJon SandsChristopher SotoKirya Traber and Jecoina Vinson bring the writers’ messages to life on the stage.

Featuring original work by: Brian Batchelor, Peter Dunne, Greg Goodman, Lacino Hamilton, Elizabeth Hawes, Matthew Feeney, Benjamin Frandsen, Arthur Longworth, Justin Rovillos Monson, Santonio Murff and Joe Vanderford

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Mar
30
12:00 PM12:00

Moderator: AWP panel, Prison Is Not A Genre: Expanding Possibility For Incarcerated Writers

Reaching beyond the often-discussed value and how-to of writing programs in prisons, this panel seeks to challenge personal motivations, institutional practices, and the use of rhetorical language that can inadvertently perpetuate a culture of stigma and separation. Panelists representing a range of lived, creative, organizational and policy perspectives will discuss how to collaborate more ethically, equitably and inventively with work coming out of the prison environment.

Moderator
Caits Meissner

Panelists

Luis J. Rodriguez
Jeanie Thompson
Joshua Bennett
Alice Lundell


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Mar
28
9:00 AM09:00

Panelist: AWP panel, In Pursuit of Inclusivity: Actively Creating Opportunities

  • B113, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1 (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS


Recently, the lack of diversity in publishing has become a prioritized issue. However, creating awareness is not enough of a solution; publishers must actively seek and embrace voices that might otherwise not be heard. In our panel, outreach directors and program coordinators will discuss ways to create a more inclusive industry, calling for publishing professionals, on every level of the industry, to actively seek out and request work from more diverse authors, on more diverse topics.

Moderator:
Andrew Jimenez

Panelists:
Mia Herman
William Johnson
Cheryl Buchanan
Caits Meissner

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Jan
24
6:00 PM18:00

Panelist: IDEA Rochelle Film & Discussion: Criminal Justice Reform

The inaugural IDEA New Rochelle Presents: "3rd Thursdays” will begin with a viewing of the independent short film, Nothing Happened, written by and starring writer, actor and educator Tony Parent. In the docudrama, a man recounts his Stop and Frisk arrest and the ripples it makes in his life and close relationships over the following year. He wrestles with how to place what happened to him alongside the tragic stories fueling the current national dialogue on Racial Profiling.

At turns comic and reflective, this short docudrama is a voice for the "non-sensational" stories, which can get lost among the headlines permeating social media. The screening will be followed by a "talk back" discussion between Tony Parent and the audience, as well as a panel discussion about Criminal Justice reform. The panel discussion will feature guests Tony Parent, Marlon Peterson, (TED Resident, Soros Justice Fellow, and host of the show "Decarcerated Podcast"), and Caits Meissner, (Prison and Justice Writing Program Director at PEN America and Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice). The panel will be moderated by IDEA New Rochelle Creative Director Bayeté Ross Smith. Free.

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Jan
14
7:00 PM19:00

Panelist, Brilliant Darkness, A Discussion With Artists On Mental Health


Latina feminist mental health activist Dior Vargas will moderate a conversation with multidisciplinary artist A'Driane Nieves aka addyeB, poet/artist/cultural worker Caits Meissner, Syrian human rights activist/photojournalist/writer Loubna Mrie, and professional ballerina/mental health advocate/singer Sydney Magruder Washington. Curated by Brian Tate

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Oct
27
7:00 PM19:00

Moderating panel @ Authoring Advocacy with Piper Kerman and Donna Hylton

Join PEN America in welcoming the inaugural 2018 Writing For Justice Fellows at Authoring Advocacy: a conversation about writing and activism in an era of mass incarceration between Donna Hylton and Piper Kerman, two prominent activists and memoirists who boldly reflect on their own experience in— and America’s experience of— our system of mass incarceration. Stay after for a meet and greet with the Fellows!

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Sep
13
7:00 PM19:00

Hosting, PEN America's Break Out: Voices From The Inside @ Brooklyn Book Fest

Join PEN America for an electric night of award-winning work from the 2018 Prison Writing Contest, visioned and hosted by Caits Meissner & Robert Pollock of PEN America. The work of writers in prison will be staged by Joshua Bennett (The Sobbing School), emerging poet Ammayeah Benton, Sergio De La Pava (Lost Empress), Baz Dreisinger (Incarceration Nations), Brendan Kiely (TraditionAll American Boys), Ian Manuel (featured in Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy), Jackie Wang (Carceral Capitalism), and Rehabilitation Through the Arts’ alumni theater group. Currently incarcerated artists have been commissioned to score collaborative movement and song through Dances For Solidarity and Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections, accompanied by Musicambia’s string quartet.

Learn more by clicking here. 

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Aug
14
8:00 PM20:00

Feature, Melissa Czarnik's Beat Music Series

Caits will perform a 15-20 minute set at The Beat Music Series at Silvana in Harlem is every second Tuesday of the month (8pm-10pm). Their mission is to bring positive life changing music and art together in one room to spread peace and love! Past performers have included Reyna, Lynette Williams, Dasha Kelly, Incksalonius among others. Learn more at Beat Music Series.

 

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Jul
23
7:30 PM19:30

The Peculiar Patriot Special Civic Engagement Talk Back

Caits Meissner and Robert Pollock of PEN America join as special guests for the community talk back post-show engagement with National Black Theater. The Peculiar Patriot, written and performed by Liza Jesse Peterson, confronts the complex and critical issue of mass incarceration. The play follows protagonist Betsy LaQuanda Ross, a self-proclaimed peculiar patriot, as she makes regular visits to penitentiaries to boost the morale of her incarcerated friends and family, navigating love between barbed wire. As she shares neighborhood updates and gossip and reminisces about family, Betsy delivers a shrewd indictment of the criminal justice system in her own authentic and inimitable style, with a heavy dose of humor to boot.

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Jun
27
to Aug 14

Online Workshop: & They Call Us Crazy: Outsider Writing To Cross the Borders of the Human Imagination

Via the Transformative Language Arts Network. In this creativity-generating workshop we’ll follow in the footsteps of genius eccentrics, outsiders and outlaws who've stepped beyond their perceived limitations, risking ridicule (and worse) to access their unique creative offerings — ultimately proving that what is outside the norm — and the academy — is often the most deliciously innovative and juicy. Together we’ll engage boundary-pushing art-making and writing exercises to become co-conspirators in building a vibrant universe, soaked in the imagination’s brightest colors. Learn more here.

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Apr
22
12:00 PM12:00

Hosting, Break Out: Voices From the Inside @ PEN America's World Voices Festival

For over thirty years, the PEN Prison Writing Program has mentored men and women incarcerated in America’s prison system, helping them to unlock their voices and imagination. Join us for this celebration of the human spirit, and hear readings of the best writing from the PEN Prison Writing Contest, read by Mitchell S. Jackson, Julia Steele Allen, asha bandele, Donna Hylton, Alejo Daw’ud Rodriguez, Raquel Almazan, Liza Jessie Peterson, and hosted by PEN America's Caits Meissner and Robert Pollock.

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Feb
14
6:00 PM18:00

Who Makes Bail? A CUP Urban Investigation

  • Bronx School of Law, Government, and Justice  (map)
  • Google Calendar ICS

You are invited to an Urban Investigation debut presentation! The Center for Urban Pedagogy collaborated with Teaching Artist Caits Meissner and public high school students from the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice to investigate these questions. Students surveyed members of the school community, interviewed key stakeholders working on the issue, and sat in on public arraignments at the Bronx Criminal Court. The team gathered what they learned and created Who Makes Bail?, a guide to how the bail system works and its impact on local communities. 

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Nov
26
7:30 PM19:30

Book Release For Devin Kelly's In This Quiet Church of Night, I Say Amen

Caits' blurb for Devin's book: Devin Kelly's visceral poems thrust us into the rich journey of growing up, confronting the ause and effect of the ordinary violence we inherit and internalize. They accuse with the kindest finger, locating what makes and breaks a family, the turbulence of masculinity, the tender ache of loss, memories that scar and shape into a searching conscience. The question that surfaced over and over while reading: in myself, in others-- what can and should be forgiven? In Devin's Quiet Church of Night, the poems whisper that perhaps the answer is everything, to which I am relieved and I am grateful and I say again and again: amen.

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