For three and a half years, Marybeth and I have held weekly writing circles inside Vermont’s sole women’s prison, without a break. We have prided ourselves on keeping the program running essentially 50 weeks of the year.
This summer, we realized the downside of such dedication. Both of us have jobs, families, and schedules outside the prison walls. And, as ‘our’ writing women continue to be released into the community, we are spending additional hours working with them to help facilitate successful re-entry. When we announced our intention to take a few weeks off over the summer, the women were overwhelmingly supportive. Apparently dedication works both ways!
Last Thursday Marybeth handed out the spring quarter’s anthology of writings, a document that runs close to 100 pages every three months. While we regularly have 12 – 18 women in the weekly group, in the course of three months we might write with double that number. Anyone who attends regularly and contributes her words is eligible to be published in the collection.
And now we are looking toward the October 3 launch of the bigger book of writings, HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write. Over 200 pages long, the book shares the writings of 60 women from the first two-and-a-half-years of our work with them. It will be released by Orbis Books in late September.
While we may be taking a break from prison, we will be working hard to promote the words of the dedicated women writers behind bars. During this time, we will also make some changes to the site. So keep tuned and let us know how we’re doing!