How do first-person narratives capture nuances inherent in naming “justice” as part of “the criminal justice system?” Why must writers expose the heavy truths of incarceration and its impact both behind and beyond bars? How can writing inspire systemic change and sustainable futures rather than damaging outcomes? In this conversation-performance hybrid event, PEN America’s 2021-2022 Writing for Justice Fellows will present works-in-progress that are helping to reframe current conversations about and connections to the criminal justice system. Using nonfiction, poetry, memoir, and journalism, Fellows will critically engage the audience in such areas as prison gerrymandering, forced sterilizations, multigenerational incarceration, and the criminalization of sex workers and trafficked femmes. Afterwards, Fellows will participate in a discussion around how to harness the power of writing in bearing witness to the cyclical and societal consequences of incarceration.
Presented in collaboration with Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America.