This week, we started writing with the segregated transition unit, thus adding a second weekly writing circle to our offerings inside. It was especially heartwarming to enter that locked unit to collect the women shortly after 4 p.m. and to be greeted by a group of eager writers – half of them from the general population who had written with us before; and an equal number completely new to us.
Understandably, women new to our circles tend to feel a bit shy, initially opting not to share their words even though they unhesitatingly write along with the rest of us. Yet what always seems to happen is a near-immediate recognition of the depth of what we do. Respect for our practices and one another – neither of which is a general operating principle inside prison – emanates from the group within a remarkably short time. And is reflected in the comments we routinely share with one another following our 90 minutes together. As an example, in response to ‘what worked/what didn’t work during our time together,’ we received the following comments this week from the new women:
I’m new to this group and it was good to hear the women express themselves in different ways other than hurtful, hateful ways.
I loved the poetry and the centeredness of the room atmosphere.
I liked the way this group went, a lot of very powerful words which I related with on a personal level.
Thanks for coming every chance you can.