PEN America: Grants for Creative Writing

OVERVIEW: PEN America, the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, is one of the largest and most respected literary organizations in the country. Its fellowships and prizes are some of the most widely respected and highly sought after in the field of writing. Though competition can be fierce, just receiving a PEN America honor can be more valuable than the amount of the award itself.

IP TAKE: PEN America awards and fellowships run the gamut from beginner to professional and fiction to nonfiction, but regardless of who is seeking which honor, the competition can be some of the toughest out there.

PROFILE: Founded in 1922, PEN America seeks “to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.” It funds over $150,000 in awards and grants each year to writers of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, and poetry. It also maintains programs like the World Voices Festival, Prison Writing Program, and the PEN America Journal.

While grantseekers should check out PEN America’s website as its list of awards, grants, and fellowships changes from time to time, current funding programs include:

Most of these awards are only awarded to work published in the United States.

PEN/America also administers the unique, and much needed, Writers' Emergency Fund, which provides grants of up to $2,000 for "professional—published or produced—writers in acute, emergency financial crisis." Recipients need not be members of PEN/America.

Final tip: Grantseekers are highly encouraged to become a member of PEN/America before submitting work for any of these awards.

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