2011 PEN American Center Prison Writing Awards

2011 PEN American Center Prison Writing Awards

The PEN American Center sponsors an annual writing awards contest for prisoners incarcerated in a federal, state, or local institution. This contest includes poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction writing.

Thousands of writers from prisons across the country submit, vying to make the short list of winners. In the interest of supporting literary efforts and celebrating those incarcerated writers who have won, here are the 2011 contest winners:


  • First Place: “Longevity” by Gene Walker (Texas)
  • Second Place: “Untitled Poem” by Julia Iskowitz (New York)
  • Third Place: “Knotty Dreams” by Brian Maddock (Arizona)
  • Dawson Prize: “Black Settlement” by Mike Evans (California)
  • Honorable Mention: “Appraisal” by Henry Daniels III (Pennsylvania)
  • Honorable Mention: “Play” by Jim DeShazo (Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: “Forgiven” by Harlan Richards (Wisconsin)


  • First Place: “The Blessings of Jebidiah Goodytake” by Robert Weaver (North Carolina)
  • Second Place: “Sabrina” by Lynne Agnew (Pennsylvania)
  • Third Place: “Chatat” by Jonathan C Rosenbloom (Maine)
  • Dawson Prize: “Silent Chatter” by Cary Lynn Nichols (Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: “Monster in the Playground” by Thomas M Fox (California)
  • Honorable Mention: “Apple Jelly” by Dane Toomey (Oklahoma)
  • Honorable Mention: “Jesusland” by Christopher Zoukis (Virginia)


  • First Place: “Hell’s Kitchen” by Thomas Bartlett Whitaker (Texas)
  • Second Place: “Juvenile Adults” by Joseph Dole (Illinois)
  • Third Place: “Laying Roots” by Robin Ledbetter (Connecticut)
  • Honorable Mention: “I Hear the Train Coming…” by Richard Allen Appleby (California)
  • Honorable Mention: “Criminal Injustice” by Lee Charles Daniels (Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: “That’s the Way it is in Prison” by Charles P Norman (Florida)


  • First Place: “A Fine, Fine Day” by D Ka Lani Raposa (California)
  • Second Place: “The Ring” by Christi Buchanan (Virginia)
  • Third Place: “How to Survive in Prison: A Brief History of My First Twenty-Three Years at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women” by Yvette M Louisell (Indiana)
  • Dawson Prize: “Walk Like a Man” by Alex Briggs (Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: “Judgment Walk” by Rogelio Gutierrez (Texas)
  • Honorable Mention: “The Years Between” by Jose L Di Lenola (New York)
  • Honorable Mention: “To Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question: An Examination of Food Culture at One Modern American Detention Center” by Futoshi Tachino (California)


  • First Place: “The Secret of Sky, Act 3” by Robert Weaver (North Carolina)
  • Second Place: “Healing Bin Laden” by Christopher Zoukis (Virginia)
  • Third Place: “Lilith Anacrusis” or “The Vampire” by Loren Ivory Morgan (California)
  • Dawson Prize: “Socrates in LA” by (Christopher Myers (Nevada)
  • Honorable Mention: “A Whimsy of Insanity” by Joseph Allen, Jr. (Massachusetts)
  • Honorable Mention: “Painted Little Lady” by Bill Huffstutter (Colorado)
  • Honorable Mention: “Getting Around to It” by Keith Sanders (Texas)

Anyone interested in learning more about this contest should contact the PEN American Center and ask for a free copy of their Handbook for Writers in Prison, which contains submission guidelines regarding the annual Prison Writing Contest. Prisoners may contact:

PEN American Center, 588 Broadway, Suite 303, New York, NY 10012