PEN Center USA, one of two centers in the United States and the third largest in the world, was founded in 1943 and incorporated as a nonprofit association in 1981. PEN Center USA’s membership of more than 800 writers includes poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists (for the original letters in the acronym, “PEN”), as well as television and screenwriters, critics, historians, editors, journalists, and translators.
PEN Center USA strives to protect the rights of writers around the world, to stimulate interest in the written word, and to foster a vital literary community among the diverse writers living in the western United States. The organization, therefore, has two distinct yet complementary aims: to promote a literary culture and to protect freedom of expression. Among PEN Center USA’s various activities are public literary events, a mentorship project, literary awards, and international human rights campaigns on behalf of writers who are censored or imprisoned.
PEN Center USA endeavors to create a world in which freedom of expression is guaranteed for all writers, and where friendship and intellectual cooperation thrive among writers and readers worldwide.
PEN Center USA’s mission is to stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally.