PEN New England

PEN new england


“Literature is the best thing humanity has. Poetry is the heart of literature, the highest concentration of everything that is the best in the world and in man. It is the only true food for your soul.”  
Lyudmila Ulitskaya



We are a chapter of PEN American Center, part of a global association of writers celebrating literature and defending free expression. We make our home at the MIT School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences.

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PEN/ Hemingway Award & PEN New England Award Celebration

  • John F. Kennedy Library Columbia Point Boston MA 02125 (map)

Celebrating the 2014 honorees of the PEN/Hemingway Awards for debut fiction and the PEN New England Awards for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Geraldine Brooks delivered the keynote address.


Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short story collection News From Heaven and four critically acclaimed novels: FaithThe ConditionBaker Towers and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won both the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the PEN/L.L. Winship Award for work by a New England writer. Her short fiction has been published widely, in The AtlanticGrantaThe Best American Short Stories 2012, and many other publications. She lives in the Boston area.

Douglas Bauer was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and raised in rural Iowa. His books include The Very Air (Henry Holt, 1997), The Book of Famous Iowans (Henry Holt, 1998), The Stuff of Fiction (University of Michigan Press, 2007), and Prairie City, Iowa (University of Iowa Press, 2008). He has edited two anthologies, Prime Times: Writers on Their Favorite Television Shows and Death by Pad Thai and Other Unforgettable Meals. His work has appeared in EsquireThe New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, Sports Illustrated, Tin House, Agni, and many other magazines. He lives in Boston with his wife and their three dogs.

Karen Skolfield's book Frost in the Low Areas (2013) won the First Book Award for Poetry from Zone 3 Press. She is a 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council fellow and winner of the 2014 Split This Rock poetry prize and the 2012 Oboh Prize from Boxcar Poetry Review. Skolfield is the poetry editor for Amherst Live, a biannual production of poetry, politics, and more, and she’s a contributing editor at the literary magazines Tupelo Quarterly and Stirring. She teaches writing to engineering students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also earned her MFA.


Born and raised in Zimbabwe, NoViolet Bulawayo earned her MFA at Cornell University, where she was a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her stories have won the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing and were shortlisted for the 2009 SA PEN Studzinsi Award. Michiko Kakutani, writing in the New York Timesdescribed We Need New Names as a "deeply felt and fiercely written debut novel." Writing in the The Guardianwhere the novel was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Prize, Bulawayo describes the new global reality that inspired the story:

We are living at a time when the world is becoming smallerthrow a stone in a crowded place and you will hit a couple of people who come from somewhere, who are removed from their homelands for one reason or another. I wanted the novel to mirror this reality...


The finalists are Mitchell S. Jackson for The Residue Years (Bloomsbury USA) and Anthony Wallace for The Old Priest (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Mitchell S. Jackson is a Portland, Oregon native who lives in Brooklyn, New York.  He received an MA in writing from Portland State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University.  He has been the recipient of fellowships from Urban Artist Initiative and The Center For Fiction. A former winner of the Hurston Wright Foundation’s award for college writers, he teaches writing at New York University and is the literary editor of Dossier Journal.

Anthony Wallace is a senior lecturer in the Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University, where he is codirector of “Arts Now,” a curriculum-based initiative to support the arts at BU. He has published poetry and short fiction in a number of literary journals, including CutBank, the Atlanta ReviewFlorida ReviewRiver Styx, and Republic of LettersThe Old Priest is a winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and the title story won a Pushcart Prize. He and his wife Allene live in Brookline, Massachusetts.


Honorable Mentions go to Jasmine Beach-Ferrara for Damn Love (Ig Publishing), Kristopher Jansma for The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (Viking), and Ethan Rutherford for The Peripatetic Coffin (Ecco/ HarperCollins).

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara received her MFA from Warren Wilson College and is a recipient of a 2010 NEA Literature Fellowship. Her fiction has appeared in Bellevue Literary ReviewThe Baltimore ReviewHarvard Review, and American Short Fiction. She is a minister in the United Church of Christ and the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Kristopher Jansma received his BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from Columbia University. He writes a column for “The Outlet” about literary artifacts and books in the digital age. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is a Creative Writing Lecturer at SUNY Purchase College.

Ethan Rutherford’s stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories and Ploughshares, and he has received awards from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota, and has taught creative writing at Macalester College, the University of Minnesota, and the Loft Literary Center.

Watch the 2014 Ceremony:

Earlier Event: December 8
2013 Cerulli Award
Later Event: May 7
The Henry David Thoreau Prize