DREAMing Out Loud

Pen America Publishes Anthology of Essays, Memoir, Stories and Poems by Immigrant 'Dreamers'

With an Introduction by Mexican novelist Álvaro Enrigue, the Collection is the Product of PEN America's "DREAMing Out Loud" Workshops for CUNY students


The DREAMing Out Loud Writing Workshop series is a partnership with PEN America, the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, culminated with a daylong professional development day for Dreamers led by Penguin Random House executives. DREAMing Out Loud is a tuition-free writing workshop for undocumented immigrants led by award-winning authors that is designed to help build a diverse talent pipeline for the publishing industry and empower DREAMers to use their voices to counter misinformation about immigrants. The workshop series was the recipient of a Mayor's Grant for Cultural Impact this year from the Department of Cultural Affairs and supported in part by the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment.

DREAMing Out Loud: Voices of Undocumented Students cover

PEN America has hosted the DREAMing Out Loud writing workshops since 2016 and with the support from the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment and a Mayor's Cultural Impact Grant from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the program expanded to new CUNY sites in the Bronx at Lehman College, Flushing at Queens College & Central Brooklyn at Medgar Evers College; recruitment in Chinese, African, and Eastern European communities; and strengthened professional development.

MOME helped organize the professional development day with Penguin Random House and featured panel discussions with publishing industry professionals including Editors-in-Chief Chris Jackson and Patrick Nolan regarding career tracks, and a keynote talk by Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a lifelong activist and author of bestselling Brave, Not Perfect.

The writing of participants in the most recent workshops are now collected in the anthology, Dreaming Out Loud: Voices of Undocumented Students. This anthology includes an introduction by DREAMing Out Loud director and co-founder, award-winning novelist and essayist Álvaro Enrigue, who, along with writers Charlie Vázquez and Lisa Ko, taught and mentored the students. The 58 personal essays, short stories, and poems here give us insight in to the challenges, hopes, and, yes, dreams, of young people trying to make sense of the puzzle of their lives, their identity, their future. There are deeply personal reflections on the journey to a new country and poignant recollections of the loved ones, languages, and cultures they left behind. We see their fears and anxieties alongside their joys and triumphs. We see moments of sadness alongside flourishes of wit and vivacity. And throughout, we see strength and resolve, and the kind of dignity that should make every American honored to call them one of us.

All author names have been published with the consent of the authors. Some names have been changed.

The collection is available at Amazon for $9.95. More details about the DREAMing Out Loud Program and Anthology visit, https://pen.org/dreaming-out-loud/


About the Mayor's Grant for Cultural Impact

The Mayor's Grant for Cultural Impact, an initiative that supports partnerships between New York City's municipal agencies and cultural organizations that collaborate to use arts and culture to reach underserved and vulnerable New Yorkers. This program, now in its second year, supports Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA's) commitment to coordinate and promote engagement between the City and New York's cultural community as outlined in the CreateNYC cultural plan released in July 2017.

The goals of the Mayor's Grant for Cultural Impact are to:

  • Create opportunities that will demonstrate the effectiveness of arts and culture as a mechanism for impactful service delivery 
  • Allow city agencies to experiment with and test new models for, or to expand, existing successful programs
  • Support strengthened partnerships between cultural organizations and city agencies
  • Expand NYC residents' access to arts and culture by leveraging the reach of city agencies 
  • Broaden programming, funding, and audience-building opportunities for arts and cultural organizations
  • Integrate arts and culture into efforts to improve social wellbeing in low income neighborhoods

In FY19 DCLA awarded ten grants of $50,000 each to arts and cultural organizations working in partnership with city agencies to address pressing civic issues. Five grants were renewed extending FY18 partnerships into a second year, and grants were awarded to five new partnerships. City agency partners are expected to provide a minimum contribution of $25,000 (cash or in-kind) to the proposed project.

Find out more at the DLCA website, https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dcla/programs/culturalimpact-application.page.