More than at perhaps any moment in history since PEN America’s establishment, we face potent challenges to free speech, press freedom, the right to dissent, and the open flow of information here in the United States. By joining PEN America as a member, you will be contributing to the defense of the freedom to write and other forms of creative expression. You will be directly involved with an international community of writers, editors, publishing professionals, translators, and readers who share your commitment to free expression, support persecuted writers, and promote literary culture.
Our donors and members provide unrestricted funding critical to our programing and advocacy work. (More details on question #5!)
PEN America’s advocacy efforts are focused on writers at risk, around the world, who experience persecution because of their work. In December of 2017, Cameroonian-American writer, poet, and professor, Patrice Nganang, was abducted and detained, shortly after publishing an article on the website Jeune Afrique, critical of the Biya government’s approach to ongoing instability in Anglophone regions of Cameroon. Due to PEN America’s efforts, Nganang was safely released and returned to the United States.
Since Inauguration Day in January 2017, PEN America has recorded more than 100 specific threats to press freedom—from journalist arrests, to violence against members of the press, to the president’s attacks on fact-based reporting. Alarm bells are ringing about polarization and erosion of confidence in the media and the truth. PEN America Members and supporters have reached out wanting to do more to protect and reinforce the press as a crucial foundation for our democracy. PEN America is at the forefront of the fight to defend press freedom. We’ve opened an office in Washington, D.C., hosted a symposium, drafted op-eds, advocated on Capitol Hill, and mobilized letters and petitions.
Now we’re turning to the people. If press freedom is to survive intact in America, it will be because citizens rise up to demand and defend it. PEN America has established a Press Freedom Incentive Fund to support PEN America Members, writers, and allies to mobilize their local communities around press freedom, helping to strengthen the national constituency behind this critical cause. Our Press Freedom Incentive Fund directly supports our members across the country through financial programing support.
PEN World Voices Festival is America’s only international literary festival, attracting the best known writers from across the globe. Since our founding, we have presented more than 1,500 writers and artists from 118 countries speaking 56 languages in venues across New York City in a weeklong series of literary events with a human rights focus. The Festival was founded by Salman Rushdie, Esther Allen, and Michael Roberts in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, with the aim of broadening channels of dialogue between the United States and the world—a mission that, today, has never been more relevant.
Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across diverse genres, including fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, and drama. With the help of our partners, PEN America confers over 20 distinct awards, fellowships, grants and prizes each year, awarding nearly $315,000 to writers and translators. Full details here.
Study this exclusive author media training video from T J Walker