Writing Freedom Fellowship

Who We Are

Haymarket Books is the proud home of the Writing Freedom Fellowship, established and designed in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Art for Justice Fund.

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Our Mission

The Writing Freedom Fellowship awards talented emerging and established poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers impacted by carceral systems for their notable and necessary writing.

Developed and administered by Haymarket Books in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Art for Justice Fund, Writing Freedom aims to recognize and elevate the essential literary voices and contributions of those directly affected by the criminal legal system. The fellowship offers crucial support to twenty writers in its inaugural year.

Our Values

Supporting Artistry

We believe the voices and contributions of writers who have been directly impacted by carceral systems are vital to our society and to our literary culture. We believe system-impacted writers deserve both opportunities to share their work and platforms on which to share it. We believe that publishers, foundations, and other philanthropic institutions have an obligation to enable the creation of this work.

Unpacking Systems

We understand that the impact of carceral systems extends beyond those who have been imprisoned, detained, or criminalized to family members, friends, communities, and our society writ large. Carceral logics limit our society’s capacity for liberation. We believe that supporting writers directly impacted by the criminal legal system can help make visible the harms of carceral logics.


We believe that every individual has the capacity to transform both themselves and the larger world. We believe in the importance of structures of care and support to transform a writer’s creative practice.

Advisory Board

Lawrence Bartley

Board Member

Mahogany L. Browne

Board Member

Natalie Diaz

Board Member

Tayari Jones

Board Member

Rachel Kushner

Board Member

Romarilyn Ralston

Board Member

Andrea J. Ritchie

Board Member

Christopher Soto

Board Member

Program Partners

Mellon Foundation logo.

Building on its existing history of support for higher education in prison programs and reflecting its social justice orientation, the Mellon Foundation in February 2023 launched Imagining Freedom—a $125 million initiative that supports arts, culture, and humanities work that centers the voices and expertise of people directly affected by the U.S. criminal legal system, to deepen a shared understanding of the system and its widespread impacts and move toward a more just future.

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Art for Justice Fund logo.

After six years of supporting artists and advocates to end mass incarceration and envision a future of shared safety for all, Art for Justice, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in partnership with the Ford Foundation, closed as planned in June 2023.

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About Haymarket Books

Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago. Our mission is to publish books that contribute to struggles for social and economic justice. We strive to make our books a vibrant and organic part of social movements and the education and development of a critical, engaged, and internationalist Left.

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