2012 Award Winners

2012 Award Winners

Each year, the PEN American Center presents awards for its Prison Writing Program. The program encourages literacy and creative expression. All participants are currently incarcerated somewhere in the United States.

The PEN Center receives thousands of entries each year. The judges read the entries and make subjective evaluations in the following categories: poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, and drama.

The 2012 winners, including honorable mentions, are listed below. These author-prisoners are to be congratulated and applauded.

2012 Annual Writing Contest Award Winners


  • First Place: How Should I Look?— Charles Norman, FL
  • Second Place: Tell Me the Story Again About the Frogs, and the Seeds —
  • Christopher Myers, TX
  • Third Place: Chessman’s Lunch — Frederic Bertoff, FL
  • Dawson Prize: The Destitute— Brian M. Batchelor, LIT
  • Honorable Mentions (Winners listed alphabetically)
  • Kite to Kierkegaard — Randy Gomez, CO
  • What She Knows— James Chris Hubbard, NC
  • Pirouette— Donald Lee Swackhammer, MI


  • First Place: Siddhartha’s Loop – Scott Gutches, CO
  • Second Place: The Examination — Eric Boyd, PA
  • Third Place: 77ic Target— Corey Jasmin, CA
  • Dawson Prize: Catching die Setting Sun— Denis Martinez, NY
  • Honorable Mentions (Winners listed alphabetically)
  • Purple Horizon— Ezekiel Caligiuri, MN
  • A Day in the Life of a Prisoner— Michael Romero, CA
  • Alter Prison – J.F, Wantz, OR


  • First Place: Bleak Housing and Black Americans — Atif Rafay, WA
  • Second Place: Seven Thousand Yesterdays — Greg Goodman, VA
  • Third Place: A Good Dude — Eugene Dey, CA
  • Dawson Prize: Beauty —Julian Conception
  • Honorable Mentions (Winners listed alphabetically)
  • Commissary Day—John Adams, TX
  • Illinois Abolishes Death Penalty — Joseph Dole, IL
  • The Stew of Discontent– William Steed Kelley, TX


  • First Place: The Last Visit from the Girl in the Willow Tree — Ezekiel Caligiuri, MN
  • Second Place: Accomplice— Chasity West, CT
  • Third Place: Planted in Concrete— Terrence Sampson, TX
  • Honorable Mentions (Winners listed alphabetically)
  • Bringer of Fire —Jason Cooper, CA
  • My Father’s Violin— Burl N. Corbett, CA
  • How I Became My Father — Leonard Scovens, FL


  • First Place: Somewhere Between — Robert Weaver, FL
  • Second Place: Probe— Stephen David Long, MK,
  • Third Place: Crabtree —Joseph Allen, Jr., MA
  • Dawson Prize: The Marvel Office World— Christopher Myers, NV
  • Honorable Mentions (Winners listed alphabetically)
  • Untitled — Anthony Ramirez, CA
  • Little Sunshine — Keith Sanders, TX
  • The Meridian- Matthew G. Walker, MN
  • Tom & Jerry— Christian J. Weaver, TN