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PEN World Voices Festival: Writers Behind Bars

PEN often advocates for writers wrongfully imprisoned for politically reasons, but also chose to devote a panel at its recent World Voices Festival to writers from the more traditional prison community.

As part of PEN’s week-long World Voices Festival authors Piper Kerman and Adrian Nicole LeBlanc and former inmate Anthony Cardenales discussed writing and writers in prison at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Both Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black, a memoir of the 13 months she spent in prison, and Cardenales, spoke from experience, while LeBlanc’s Random Family charts the impact of imprisonment on a South Bronx community.

 

Bon Mots

On the Cost of Education in Prison: A Bard [College] representative brought that up.  She said, ‘So many people say: why is he getting an education for free and I have to pay for my child?’  And she responded, ‘Well, have your child switch places with him.’

—Anthony Cardenales

On Her First Day in Prison: Wow, I am a sitting duck.

—Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black

On Prison and Violence: One of the big excuses for keeping millions and millions of Americans incarcerated is the idea that prisoners are uncontrollable and irredeemably violent, and I take issue with that idea.

—Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black

I have an opposite perspective.  Prisons are extremely violent.

—Anthony Cardenales