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PEN America has announced the inaugural winners of its prison writing program award.

Rasheeda Saka

November 11, 2020, 2:52pm

The PEN America/L’Engle-Rahman Prize for Mentorship honors four mentor/mentee pairs in PEN America’s prison writing mentorship program, which links established writers with those currently incarcerated.

The Award is named after the late acclaimed author Madeleine L’Engle and her 10-year written friendship with scholar, writer, and former Black Party leader Ahmad Rahman. Each winner will receive a $250 cash prize and a set of books chosen by their respective mentor/mentee.

Today, PEN America announced the winning pairs:

Benjamin Frandsen and Noelia Cerna

Elizabeth Hawes and Jeffrey James Keyes

Derek Trumbo and Agustín Lopez

Seth Wittner and Katrinka (Kei) Moore

“This award honors that spirit and the spirit of my grandmother,” L’Engle’s granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis said in a statement. “Our grandmother called her writing room the ivory tower and while it was, on the one hand, a sardonic recognition of the privilege she had, it also signaled the isolation writing imposes, and she understood profoundly the isolation of incarcerated writers like Ahmad, and how mentorship provides them a linkage to the broader literary community.”

Congrats to all!

[h/t The Southern]

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