Lesson Learned by Stephen
I didn’t know the influence my thoughts had
I used to think
I would live my life the way I wanted
I used to think
I was the one that had to pass when it was time for me to pass
She passed somewhere between the yellow and the green
She passed because of these thoughts
Now, i know
“Michael said after the workshop that he never would have imagined he’d be a writer. When he reads his work to his peers it is freeing.”
–from SC prison holds writing program for prison inmates by Lyn Riddle
Perry Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina, is host of a creative writing program for inmates. The “Writers Block” program was started by Carol Young Gallagher and Anna Katherine Freeland and functions as a traditional writing workshop where peer critique of work is emphasized.
Three years ago, Gallagher, then president of The Emrys Foundation, began the program after receiving a letter from an inmate asking to start a program. Emrys Foundation, a literary nonprofit which includes an annual journal and press, had previously held writing workshops in hospitals but never prisons. Gallagher, with the help of Freeland who “wanted to do a creative writing program in a prison since she was an undergraduate in the English and creative writing program at Converse College 16 years ago” created Writers Block, which they hope to one day make its own nonprofit and expand to other facilities.
To mark the program’s three-year anniversary, a journal of the inmate’s work will be published this fall.
Read more about the program in The Charlotte Observer.
“Writing has always been associated with freedom.” — Lleucu Siencyn, Wales Online
Our friends over in the United Kingdom share similar ideas about writing while incarcerated. A recent opinion piece in Wales Online discusses Literature Wales which ran creative writing classes and reading workshops in prisons through the Write for Life program. This program saw 500+ inmates over the course of a 2 year period. An anthology of that work will be published at the end of the month. Also of note, Siencyn discusses protests of the November 2013 United Kingdom ban on sending books (among other things) to prisoners. See the full article here.
“Through education, reading and creative writing, prison offers opportunities to learn new skills, hone old ones and build confidence, better preparing offenders for ‘life outside.'” — Lleucu Siencyn, Wales Online
Doran Larson, a Hamilton College professor, solicited prison education programs across the nation for submissions for the recently published book Fourth City: Essays from the Prison in America. In addition to editing and curating Fourth City, Larson teaches a class at Attica, as well as a “Prison Writing” course at Hamilton College.
The term “fourth city” comes from the idea that the 2.26 million incarcerated Americans out-number the fourth largest city in America (Houston, at 2.1 according to the 2012 census).
Larson’s experience stresses the importance of sharing the voices of those who are incarcerated. Of the book and its authors he states: “they cannot express the depth of their thanks; they are thankful even to know someone wants to read their work, let alone publish it.”
Read the full article here.