Through the Walls: Working Equitably with Incarcerated Writers

Room 332, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 3
Friday, March 10, 2023
3:20 pm to 4:35 pm


A rich yet untapped pool of literary and journalistic expertise exists behind the wall. Incarcerated writers are eager to and capable of producing serious literature across genres but the path to publication for them is fraught. From lack of access to submissions calls to the potential for serious reprisal from prison staff, talent behind the walls goes unexplored, unread. Here, we’ll share tips for how you can work with incarcerated writers to bring their narratives to the public.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: AWP_Outline__Through_the_Walls_(2).pdf



Caits Meissner is a New York City–based artist and writer. She is the director of prison and justice writing at PEN America where she edited The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison (Haymarket, January 2022).

Nicole Shawan Junior (they/them) is the deputy director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America and the founder of Roots. Wounds. Words., a literary arts organization that supports and amplifies BIPOC writers and books.

Arthur Longworth is a contributing writer with The Marshall Project, a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, a six-time PEN America Prison Writing Award winner, and a 2019–2020 PEN America Writing for Justice Fellow. He has written for Medium, VICE News, and New Republic.

Shaheen Pasha


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center