Call for Submissions: Voices Through the Wall: Prisoners Write About Prisons

The editors seek non-fiction essays and prose fiction by men and women currently incarcerated in American prisons. We believe that inmates constitute a rich but untapped intellectual and cultural resource.  We hope to create a collection that mines the experience and wisdom of inmates, in order to offer a better understanding of the prison’s place in society.  We seek authors who write with the authority that only incarceration can bring.  We want their voices to become part of a public dialogue about the prison system, its culture, the environment of today’s facilities, etc.

We are open to many styles, but all submitted essays/prose must draw on first-hand experience.

Some topics of interest to us are: coping; situations; visions of a better way to operate (both personally and institutionally); self-reflection on the work of dealing with time inside; the challenges of physical and psychological survival; personal histories; what works and why it works; what doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work, etc. We are also very open to seeing what we hadn’t looked for.

Voices Through the Wall will showcase what the incarcerated have to offer to the public.  We value polished, quality writing that takes thoughtful positions even on the most passionately felt ideas.


Word Limit: 5,000 words (approximately 15 double-spaced pages).  Please number pages.  Clearly composed handwritten manuscripts are also acceptable.  There is no reading fee. Published authors will not receive payment but will receive one copy of the publication.

Authors should not send the sole copies of their work.  (Keep a copy of your own.)  Please include sufficient contact information (direct or through a program supervisor) so that we can inform authors of our decisions.  All contributors will be notified of results.  If possible, include postage (44-cent stamp) so we can mail our decision.  We cannot return manuscripts (which will be recycled).

Program supervisors are encouraged to solicit high-quality work and submit essays together in a single mailing.

The editors may request revisions of promising work.


Send work to:

    “Voices Through the Wall”
    Hamilton College
    198 College Hill Road
    Clinton, NY 13323.

Submission deadline: March 1, 2010

Please email me ( or Professor Doran Larson
( with any questions about the project.

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