PEN America Comes to NoHo

On May 30, 2019, PEN America will celebrate their Prison & Justice Writing program in North Hollywood. Join them at the Road Theatre from 8-10 PM for an exclusive preview of the 2019 winners of the Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction, which recognizes excellence in writing by incarcerated writers.

Winning works will be read by activists, educators, performers and writers, including Bridgette Bianca, Dorothy Randall Gray, Darrel Larson, Laurie O’Brien, Laurie Okin, Christopher Soto and Carl Weintraub. The reading will be followed by a panel discussion with Edward Bunker’s family and friends, and a reception with light refreshments. 


May 30 from 8-10PM


Road Theatre
5108 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood, CA 91601




Founded in 1971 in the wake of the Attica riots, PEN America’s Prison Writing and Justice Program work advances the restorative, rehabilitative, and transformative possibilities of writing, and amplifies excellent literature by incarcerated writers. Our efforts include a Handbook for Writers in Prison; a mentorship program that is currently serving 260 incarcerated individuals; and a Prison Writing Contest that receives more than 2,000 annual submissions.

Edward Heward Bunker (December 31, 1933 – July 19, 2005) was an American author of crime fiction, a screenwriter and an actor. Bunker wrote numerous books— some of which have been adapted into major motion pictures featuring prominent actors such as Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight— and was a screenwriter on “Straight Time” (1978), “Runaway Train” (1985) and “Animal Factory” (2000). Bunker also appears on screen as an actor in a number of films, most famously as Mr. Blue in “Reservoir Dogs.” And like many of the writers who reach out to the PEN America Prison and Justice Writing Program, Mr. Bunker was involved with the justice system for decades before finding significant success as a writer and actor.

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.” – PEN America

Did you know?  With more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, the nation boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world. One in every 37 adults in the United States—2.7% of the adult population—is under some form of correctional supervision. 

Considering these stark realities, in 2018, PEN America deepened its commitment to issues relating to mass incarceration by launching the national Writing For Justice Fellowship, which commissioned six writers, including Priscilla Ocen of Los Angeles, to create written works of lasting merit that illuminate critical issues related to mass incarceration and catalyze public debate.

Additionally, through funding from California Arts Council Arts in Corrections program, they recently launched their first PEN In The Community workshop series at California State Prison, Los Angeles County. For eight weeks, teaching artist Dorothy Randall Gray presented a storytelling workshop to more than 40 incarcerated writers. 

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