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.

2014 PEN/Lyrics Award Honorees

In 2014 we honored Kris Kristofferson and Randy Newman. Honorees were joined by Master of Ceremonies Elvis Costello, and special guests including T Bone Burnett, Rosanne Cash, Bill Flanagan, Lyle Lovett, Allen Toussaint and Peter Wolf.  Read more:



Come and lay down by my side
till the early morning light
All I'm takin' is your time. 
Help me make it through the night.

Kris Kristofferson is the distinguished writer of such hits as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “For the Good Times,” “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” Throughout his career, Kristofferson’s songwriting has garnered 48 BMI Country and Pop Awards, plus three Grammy awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003 Kristofferson was awarded the First Amendment Center/AMA “Spirit of Americana” Free Speech Award, and in 2004 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
With frozen smiles to chase love away
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today

Randy Newman has been writing songs professionally since the age of seventeen. His sometimes wry, sometimes satirical, and often heartfelt songs include the hits “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” “Short People,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” “Mama Told me (Not to Come),” and “Louisiana 1927.” Newman is also a renowned film composer, scoring music for the films RagtimeThe NaturalPleasantvilleSeabiscuitMonsters Inc., the Toy Story films, and many others. His songs and musical scores have earned two Academy Awards, three Emmys, six Grammy Awards, and, in 2002, the prestigious Governors’ Award from the Recording Academy. He was inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.


Bono, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Bill Flanagan, Paul Muldoon, Salman Rushdie, Natasha Trethewey and Peter Wolf