“We need the industry to be more reflective of the audience.” —Adrian Tomine, author of The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist
The deadline is approaching for the PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History. Starting this cycle, PEN America will award two writers grants of $15,000 each, expanding the program from a single grant of $10,000. The prizes will support literary works of nonfiction that use oral history to “illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement.” Only unpublished works-in-progress are eligible.
Using only the online submission system, submit a writing sample of 20 to 40 pages, 6 to 10 pages of transcribed interviews, a curriculum vitae, a project outline, a project description, a statement on how and why oral history is being used in the project, and a statement on how the grant would be useful to the project by August 1. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.
Established in 2017, the PEN/Jean Stein Grants are awarded by PEN America, a nonprofit organization advancing freedom of expression, and are made possible by a donation from Jean Stein, whose is remembered for pioneering the genre of narrative oral history. The inaugural grant recipient was Aleksandar Hemon, who received the grant for How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement, a project to record the experiences of immigrants fleeing genocide in Bosnia.
In “What We Found in Writing: Authors on Creativity in Quarantine” in the July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, thirteen authors describe their experiences of writing and not writing during the past several months of quarantine. Ada Limón writes: “What struck me, almost immediately, is that fear was more incapacitating than despair. I could surrender to a hopelessness and still make something. Even if it felt like a last gasp of my own humanity or love or tenderness, I could still write it. However, if I focused on fear, I was always silenced.” Write a personal essay that examines how your own creativity has ebbed and flowed during this time. Are there things that have been easier or more difficult to write about? Where have you found inspiration? What has been unexpected?
“Feel for the thread. Follow it through the dark.” —Kendra Atleework, author of Miracle Country