Our newly released book Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write continues to generate interest in media spheres (and we are ever grateful).
This past week I drove in darkness to WCAX-TV, the CBS affiliate in So. Burlington, for a crack-of-dawn interview with reporter Molly Smith for her “Books Over Breakfast” segment.
We covered quite as bit of territory about Vermont’s incarcerated women, the writing inside VT program, and the book — all within a three-minute block. Give a look and listen here.
A day later, an Associated Press reporter accompanied me ‘inside’ Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility to interview some of the women authors and to experience the writing circle firsthand.
I grinned as one of the incarcerated writers asked that reporter if she was present to “observe us like fish in a fishbowl” or whether she was willing to write with the group. She agreed to the latter, and the trusting writing circle re-established itself once again.
We wrote about the grace of an ordinary day.
At the circle’s conclusion, one of the imprisoned writers suggested that the reporter pose a couple of questions to the circle of 12 seated together.
We facilitators inquire in this vein weekly through written comment cards that the writers turn in (we call them “soul cards”). However, I’m not sure I had ever heard the women articulate the value of this program out loud as a collective gathering.
“What do you get out of the group?” the AP reporter inquired.
For the next 15 minutes, women chimed in: “a quiet space to be with my thoughts,” “peace away from the unit,” “a time to find out what I’m thinking,” “therapy,” “friendship and laughter”…
And soon one theme began to dominate the interchange, the same thing said in a myriad of different ways: “there is no judgment here,” “it’s a judgment-free zone,” “there is only acceptance”…
And my mind immediately went to the universal desire each of us carries within to live and work and relate in environments where we can exist freely – without judgment and with unconditional acceptance.