S189. Prison Is Not A Genre

C124, Oregon Convention Center, Level 1
Saturday, March 30, 2019
12:00 pm to 1:15 pm


Reaching beyond the often-discussed value and how-to of writing programs in prisons, this PEN America panel seeks to challenge personal motivations, institutional practices, and the use of rhetorical language that can inadvertently perpetuate a culture of stigma and separation. Panelists representing a range of lived, creative, organizational and policy perspectives will discuss how to collaborate more ethically, equitably and inventively with work coming out of the prison environment.


Caits Meissner is the author of the illustrated hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, and currently serves as the Prison and Justice Writing Program Manager at PEN America.

Randall Horton is the author of three collections of poetry and most recently, Hook: A Memoir. He is a member of the experimental performance group "Heroes Are Gang Leaders," and Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven.

Clint Smith is a PhD candidate at Harvard University and the author of Counting Descent, 2017 BCALA Literary Award-winner and NAACP Image Award finalist. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and his writing has been published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New Republic, and elsewhere.

Jeanie Thompson directs the Alabama Writers' Forum and is poetry faculty at Spalding University low-res MFA Writing Program. Her five poetry collections include The Seasons Bear Us and The Myth of Water: Poems From the Life of Helen Keller. She was founding editor of Black Warrior Review at the University of Alabama.

Dr. Joshua Bennett is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is the author of The Sobbing School and Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, which is forthcoming.


March 27–30, 2019
Portland, OR

Oregon Convention Center