Larry Siems, lead writer for The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program, is director of the Freedom to Write Program and the International Program at the PEN American Center — the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization. The Freedom to Write Program coordinates the Center’s efforts to defend writers imprisoned and persecuted for their work, and advocates for the freedom of the written word around the globe. Siems also oversaw the establishment of PEN’s Latin American Network, and has focused on freedom of expression issues in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and South America.
In addition to his interest in literary freedom, Siems has worked extensively with the undocumented worker community in the United States. His book Between the Lines: Letters Between Undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans and their Families and Friends was a finalist for the PEN award for nonfiction in 1993. He also worked with Human Rights Watch, researching human rights abuses by border patrol agents. Siems co-wrote the organization’s report “Brutality Unchecked: Human Rights Abuses Along the U.S.-Mexico Border.”
Larry Siems has received fellowships from the Yaddo and MacDowell Foundations for his work as a poet; his poetry has appeared in such literary journals as Epoch and The Southern Poetry Review. Siems has also taught literature and writing to high school and college students.