My Favorite Collections of Prison Writing

I write about prison writers, so I might be biased, but I often love prison narratives, be it fiction or memoir. That said, it can be hard to find new or lesser known writers. This is a list of some great collections and anthologies of prison writing that I can help you discover some great new reads.

  1. Wall Tappings, edited by Judith Schleffler

  2. This book, first published in the ’80s, contains writings from well known women prison writers (Angela Davis) to very obscure writers. It’s great and one of the few places women’s writing in particular is highlighted.
  3. Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing (Pen America)

  4. The Pen American organization sponsors an annual prison writing contest and this collection features some of the best writing submitted!
  5. Prison Writings in 20th Century America by H. Bruce Franklin

  6. Franklin was one of the first scholars to really take prison writing seriously—and he collected some of it in this book. Broader in scope than Pen’s collection, but featuring both men and women, Franklin’s collection covers a lot of ground and is a good starting place.
  7. Letters to My Younger Self

  8. This book is writing from one course at S.C.I Graterford in Pennsylvania. It is a great book on its own, but is also an example of the great books coming out of prison writing courses constantly. It is definitely work checking in your area for something similar.
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