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book of women prisoners’ writings from Vermont
released September 2013

cover of upcoming bookFall 2014 BOOK READING

Burlington Book Festival
Saturday, September 20, 10:30 am

Fletcher Free Library, Main Reading Room
Burlington, VT

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If you’ve missed our several readings, you can still
order the book from Orbis Books or Amazon

AND – if you like what you read – please consider leaving a customer review on our Amazon page!

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These straight-from-the-gut writings by incarcerated women will break your heart and put it back together again.   - Sr. Helen Prejean, author, Dead Man Walking

These are radical, revolutionary voices because they dare us to do what society insists we must not:  listen to and care about those who have been cast out and locked away.
- Michelle Alexander, legal scholar & author, The New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness

Recent Posts

art from the heart

freeform art

by SC

This week we chose to bring an art project inside, thinking that the holiday season is anything but heartfelt there. Most of the eight participants had never before attended a group. It took them quite a while to settle into the space and our activity. But there came a magical moment when I looked around and realized every hand was moving quickly across the page.

We started with a string-and-ink exercise, beautifully described by MG and quoted in part here:

During this practice, we used flimsy string to draw in india ink… the utensil being used to guide the ink doesn’t offer a definite outcome. Knowing the ink is going to fall where it wants and that it will remain in its place signifies the lack of control of our life’s outcome; yet, still being in charge of the motions to make certain that it happens…  If we wanted to, we could use colors that were a bit more promising – markers, crayons  – to fill in the otherwise abstract areas of our pieces.

After initial mark-making, the women were invited to respond to their artwork in writing. One new writer wrote this simple and eloquent piece that speaks on several levels. It is a description of process, yes. But more, it is a stand-alone reflection on life itself. Sometimes what comes from the heart is the purest art:

MANIC

On a piece of spontaneity with every emotion flooding me to the brim, I can’t swim out and I can’t reach the edge. I swirl through a rotary around and around, allowing myself a piece in this puzzle I’ve left unmastered, left unfinished with many hands holding the pieces. We are never finished.

Where we started, this vast emptiness, splattered only with the blackness we allow, what takes form to the shapes that we create. It is us. It’s a life force; crack it open and you can see it pulsing. It is not an illusion. What we have created we can master, we have handed out the pieces and we can make them fit.

What was once can be again, what has always been will always be, and what was never meant to happen will never come to pass. We can’t will things into existence. We can just be.

SC

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