writinginsideVT adds new program!

We are thrilled to announce that we are now writing ‘inside’ with mentor-mentee pairs from the Vermont Women’s Mentoring Program!

This mentoring program links incarcerated women at Chittenden Correctional Facility to supportive women mentors from the local community, who can provide meaningful advice throughout the reentry process. (It is a partnership between Vermont Works for Women, Mercy Connections and the Department of Corrections.)

Sarah and I envisioned facilitating writing circles for this unique grouping nearly a year ago, sensing that our model could help deepen the relationships between mentors and mentees getting to know one another.  We were graced with the presence of five mentor-mentee pairs for the kick-off circle last Sunday!

Soul Armor by Emily Steiner Franz

Together we wrote to the prompt a costume I’d need in the world I hadn’t entered yet … from the poem “Costumes” by Sharon Charde.  I’ve included two pieces from new ‘inside’ writers.  Read on.

*    *    *    *

The perfect costume for a world I have not entered yet. I guess that would be an invisible force field that would keep all evil away from me. I would be free to roam about, and wouldn’t have to worry about the demons of my past sneaking up on me and pulling me down.

I’m getting ready to enter a new world alright. The world of sobriety. The open world of sobriety, not surrounded by a barbed wire fence that has kept me away from my past – also my past away from me. 

Now I’m a few weeks away from walking beyond this fence. And I’m ready. I have a suit made of armor. My invisible force field.  –MD   

*    *    *    *

In the world I hadn’t entered yet, I would need a suit of armor and a shield. This would be a perfect world, one I’ve yet to see. In this world there’s crime, drugs, addiction. I suffer with this disease; and in order for me to enter it with a so-called normal life, I would need my costume to protect me from all evil things that continue to take control of me. I often end up in hell and that’s where I am today; but soon I will enter a world of structure to guide me on my way; a righteous path, one that I hope I end up somewhere other than this hell I’m in now.  -CM

5 thoughts on “writinginsideVT adds new program!

  1. Linda Catanzaro says:

    What an incredible program! I do work in our county jail and
    local women’s prison and there is such a need to support those women and men leaving incarceration. Thank you for this very informative website. Do you know where I can get a copy of
    the poem “Costumes?”
    With gratitude, Linda Catanzaro


    • Linda Catanzaro says:

      Thank you so much, Marybeth for the poem. I plan to use it this coming week with a spiritual
      recovery group and with the incarcerated women I work with. Just wondering what your policy is about using the women’s poems that you have on the website. Your writing program touches
      the women in such a profound and powerful way. Thank you for sharing all that you do to support them!

      peace, Linda Catanzaro


      • Marybeth says:

        HI, Linda..apologies for the delayed response. Your request prompted a conversation with my co-director. Feel free to utilize the writings on our blog. We simply ask that you always attribute them to the initialed author, as well as the writinginsideVT program. Let us know how they work within the context you are using them! My best, Marybeth


  2. Marybeth says:

    Many thanks for being in touch, Linda! Here you go:


    My mother made my sisters
    nuns for Halloween in 1952.
    By hand, she stitched black
    serge, carefully pleated
    flat bodices, starched white
    linen for the wimples. Gauzy
    veils attached with pins,
    my father’s dark belts
    for the waist, their own
    rosaries. She worked hard
    on these costumes for her two
    youngest, who carried her pride
    in their holiness and hers out
    into the night to the neighbors
    along with their brown paper bags
    for candy. I didn’t want to walk
    with them.
    I think I was a tramp that year,
    ripped men’s pants tied with a rope,
    an old felt hat and a scary mask.
    I dressed as the other sex, clear
    even then it was a costume I’d need
    in the world I hadn’t entered yet,
    clear my mother’s designs wouldn’t
    dress me, clear that a woman’s life
    had rules I would have to rescind.

    – Sharon Charde


  3. Marybeth says:

    (This, from my friend Claire Houston, who couldn’t get the comment mode to work!)

    Wow. What an exciting program, for both mentees and mentors.

    What costume would she need? I totally understand that costume that the writer described, that would keep her safe from the forces that would drag her downward. But I REALLY get the part where she says, a costume that would allow her to move around in the world, explore… in other words, a costume that would offer FREEDOM. So true. It’s hard to believe the a costume could liberate, as opposed to suffocate. But, years ago, when I got dragged into being Big Bird in a 4th of July parade on Martha’s Vineyard (because I was the right size for the costume, and the original person was sick), I reluctantly agreed. Well, let me tell you. It was wonderfully liberating. As I looked through the eye holes, and saw all these people waving at me, blowing me kisses, and smiling, I began to dance, instead of walk; wave instead of stalk. Kids came rushing up to hug me. I was ecstatic! I was totally free to leave my “old” self behind, and take on this new attitude, and explore this new land in a new way.

    It’s a wonderful memory, and it gave me a whole new appreciation and empathy for people wearing masks and costumes, literally and figuratively. xo Claire


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