categories: Cocktail Hour / Getting Outside
The gents have chivalrously agreed to post some writing from a group of women inmates whom I work with in a program called “Meet the Authors.” (The women don’t have internet access, but your comments will get back to them, through me, after being vetted through the chain of command.)
The program runs in 12-week rounds, two hours per week, with a different group of students for each round, always with a few repeaters. We read the work of Maine women writers, who come to discuss their work and offer a writing exercise in their respective genres. The women then write short pieces, using prompts from me or the guest writers, and revise them according to feedback from the group. The guest authors’ books, I should add, are purchased by a generous couple from Portland, who have been steadfast supporters of this concept.This experience has been an unmitigated success (nearly 100% attendance, unheard of in prison classes!), because the women (who volunteer to be in the class) are starved for the intellectual engagement and heart-to-heart connection that literature so often engenders. These women are not experienced writers, but to my utter astonishment they have been willing to take enormous emotional risks in a really risky place. The first thing we do when we convene each Friday is raise our arms, pull a metaphorical bubble over overselves, and proclaim, “Inside this bubble our only identity is Readers and Writers.” Amazingly, it works. Despite the everpresent clanging of doors, keys, and voices outside our meeting space, we are able to keep that bubble unbroken.
Which is to say, Bill and Dave, that your offer to post some of this writing is like throwing a cape over a puddle to allow the damsels to tiptoe from one place to another. They are not storybook damsels by any stretch, which is why this means so much. Nobody else is out there throwing capes, believe me. So, thank you, dear fellows; and readers, stayed tuned for a few guest posts from pseudononymous ladies from the Maine Correctional Center.