Founded in 1922, PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that comprise the PEN International network. Our membership forms a nationwide community of writers and literary professionals, as well as devoted readers and supporters who join with them to carry out PEN America’s mission. PEN America advocates for writers under threat worldwide and public policies that bolster freedom of speech; celebrates the literature of eminent and emerging writers through awards, publications, festivals, and public programming; produces original research on pressing threats to free expression; and offers platforms to lift up the work and views of those whose voices have too often gone unheard or been ignored. PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program, founded in 1971 in the wake of the Attica riots, advances the transformative possibilities of writing, and has offered many thousands of incarcerated writers free access to literary resources, skilled writing mentors, and audiences for their work. Our program extends PEN America’s mission of supporting free expression, and encourages the use of the written word as a legitimate form of power.
Caits Meissner is the Director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America. She is also the author and illustrator of hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry (The Operating System, 2016). A multidisciplinary creator, Meissner's written and visual work has been published in venues including The Guardian, Harper's Bazaar, Medium's Human Parts, The Literary Review, Narrative, Adroit, Drunken Boat, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, [Pank], The Journal and The Offing, among others.