PRESS RELEASE: 21st Annual Literary Awards Festival



PEN Center USA proudly presents:
Patt Morrison will host the Literary Awards Festival and receive the Charles Lummis Award.

Beverly Hills, CA: PEN Center USA, a literary nonprofit based in Beverly Hills, is proud to announce the winners of the organization’s 2011 Literary Awards competition. Adam Somers, PEN Center USA’s executive director, announced winners in eleven genre categories, as well as the UC Press Exceptional First Book Award. A distinguished panel of writers, editors, critics, and journalists chose the recipients of the Literary Awards. The Literary Awards, which include a one thousand dollar cash prize and honor the best writing in the western states, will be presented at the 21st Annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. Mr. Somers also announced the Festival Honorees: Robert Pinsky will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award; Dave Eggers will receive the Award of Honor; Charles Bowden will receive the First Amendment Award; and Ellie Herman will receive the Freedom to Write Award (Domestic), honoring the creation of TRUTH: A Literary Journal.
Patt Morrison will host the Literary Awards Festival and receive the Charles Lummis Award. In the coming weeks, PEN Center USA will profile Morrison and the organization’s newest award. Morrison is a longtime Los Angeles Times staff writer and columnist who has shared in two of the paper's Pulitzer prizes and currently writes the "Patt Morrison Asks" column. She is the recipient of numerous Emmys and Golden Mike Awards, most recently for her daily public affairs program, “Patt Morrison,” on the NPR station KPCC. Morrison was the recipient of the Joseph M. Quinn Award from the Los Angeles Press Club for lifetime achievement and is the author of the best seller, Río LA: Tales from the Los Angeles River.

Robert Pinsky, Lifetime Achievement Honoree, published Selected Poems in 2011. His recent anthology, with accompanying audio CD, is Essential Pleasures. His honors include the Harold Washington Award from the city of Chicago and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his translation, The Inferno of Dante. Videos from the Favorite Poem Project, an organization that he founded during his tenure as U.S. Poet Laureate, can be viewed at

Dave Eggers, Award of Honor Honoree, is the author of seven books, including Zeitoun, which has been awarded the American Book Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Robert F. Kennedy Distinguished Honor, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council's Media Award. His novel What Is the What was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of France's Prix Medici. His first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house, and the co-founder of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center in San Francisco. Seven cities across the country have since opened 826 centers. In 2004, Eggers and Dr. Lola Vollen co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises. He was named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2005, and received the 2007 Heinz Award and the 2008 TED Prize. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism.

Charles Bowden, First Amendment Award Honoree, is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction, the Sidney Hillman Prize, and a United States Artists Fellowship. He is the critically acclaimed author of many books, including Murder City, Down by the RiverA Shadow in the City, and co-editor of El Sicario.  He is a contributing editor of GQ and Mother Jones magazine, and writes for other magazines, including Harper’s Magazine and Aperture.  Bowden lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

Ellie Herman teaches creative writing, drama, and yearbook in Los Angeles at Animo Pat Brown Charter High School, where she created TRUTH: A Literary Journal in 2009.  She is a veteran TV writer and producer and has worked on several shows, including My So-Called Life, Chicago Hope, Desperate Housewives, and The Riches.  Her fiction and creative nonfiction have been published in The Massachusetts Review, The Missouri Review, The Santa Monica Review, and The O. Henry Prize Collection.  She lives in Los Angeles.

Past PEN Center USA Literary Award winners and honorees include: Woody Allen, Rudolfo Anaya, Paul Thomas Anderson, Ray Bradbury, T.C. Boyle, Sandra Cisneros, George Clooney, Cameron Crowe, Ariel & Will Durant, Carrie Fisher, Betty Friedan, Matt Groening, Vaclav Havel, Charlie Kaufman, Barbara Kingsolver, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ursula K. Le Guin, Dan Savage, Neil Simon, Oliver Stone, Michael Tolkin, Gus Van Sant, Alice Walker, Billy Wilder, Steven Zaillian, Hugh M. Hefner, Ben Goldhirsh and GOOD, Gloria Steinem, and Gore Vidal.

PEN Center USA has a membership of more than 600 professional writers. 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 states. For more information on the 21st Annual Literary Awards Festival, please contact Hilary McCreery, Program Manager at PEN Center USA: