“Gemini Ink believes in the vital role creative writing can play in an individual’s life and personal development. Our writing classes are open to everyone. Whether the last thing you wrote was a poem in high school or you are a published emerging author, we provide a warm supportive writing community and the opportunity to develop your skills.” – from the geminiink website
Over the weekend of July 21-23rd, we were lucky to head to San Antonio, TX to present a panel on our shared work at writinginsideVT. To prepare for the conference and to ensure that all the writers of writinginside were heard the panel, while inside with our writers, we wrote a shared letter to the panel at geminiink. Below, you will read the exchange between the panel and our writing circle. First is the letter to the panel and last are the notes each audience member wrote in reply. As a side note, I shared the notes from the audience with our writing circle this week and they were thrilled to hear the well of support they received from the audience at Geminiink. Thank you, Geminiink, for the opportunity to share our work and words with San Antonio!
writinginsideVT writers to the panel:
To Whom It May Concern: this group has given me a way to relive some of my most darkest feelings through a healthy way. It has helped make a significant difference in my life. I no longer cut myself as a way to relieve stress. So poetry and this class has offered me a positive outlet!
My experience: being incarcerated, I am confined. Constantly controlled. Always being told what to do. Forever wearing a porcelain mask painted with a fake smile on it. Not able to be myself. Being treated like a rabid, caged animal.
During writing inside, I am a woman. I am a mother, a free-spirit. I have views and opinions that I can freely express without fear of judgment or reprimand. During writing inside, I am me. I can be myself and wear a true smile on my face.
How I grew from this circle: My experience has helped me to grow because without writing my feelings out the way I’ve learned, I would cut someone so deep with my tongue.
I really like this group because they let us pass or write to make us feel good. My skills have opened up more. It makes me happy and feel good about myself and others and it lets me open up to others.
Being a participant is freeing – all day we are controlled, told what to do, and when to do it. We don’t have the freedom of self-expression, no say is what we wear, what we eat, when we sleep or how we spend our time. Having this writing group allows us the freedom we so crave. No limits, no hesitations, no rules, no bars holding us back. It’s like taking a breath of fresh air from the outside. No fence holding us in or back. It’s a vacation and a break from the ever-pending doom and darkness of being imprisoned. My mind and words are freedom in a caged world.
Geminiink Panel Audience to writinginsideVT:
Thank you for sharing your words and life/lives through your book and the geminiink Conference. Our neighborhood in San Antonio has members in prison who are part of our families so we know a little of what you go through. Hope and Peace, Esperanza y Paz, Kamala
Thank you for sharing your dreams, your pain, and your incredible words. Your insight about life and being human reminds me that out of challenges comes precious gems. Keep healing and writing, Linda
You are – each and every one of you – an inspiration. It can be difficult to create on the outside but you all are facing the greater challenge of creating on the inside and are more than rising to the occasion. Please know that you and your writing are valued and you have writers cheering you on with each and every poem and story you commit to the page. Read. Write. Read and write more. Good things will come to you and those you love. Be strong. Be Curious. Have faith in the process of writing.
To the women in the group-fellow writers, Thank you for your words. I listened and your words were so eloquent and they touched my mind and my heart.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and wisdom. Your have words have changed me.
For the women and writers – your words are beautiful. They move me. Never stop.
Thank you for your words. Remember, you are not the worst thing that you have done. Keep hope.
Thank you from a writer in Texas. I value your writing and the writing that was shared with us in San Antonio.
Dear Incarcerated Women and Writers,
“Even caged birds sing.” – Maya Angelou – Keep your stories and teach the world.
Thank you so much for trusting us and sharing your work with us. Very moving. – Chuck E.
Ladies and writers, thank you for sharing your work, feelings, and talent. Wishing you all the best of luck on your journey. Also sending you all endless amounts of love.
To the writers: I congratulate you for showing up for yourself and attending this empowering group. May this type of writing reveal to you how you truly are: free to be strong, courageous, and truthful enough to overcome all your challenges. May this group quiet your doubt and give voice to your self-trust.
Ladies, I have been where you are before. I support what you are doing within your writing. I hear the social injustices that you are living through. You have support on the outside. I believe in you, and so many in the county know in some cases you’re in here and completely innocent. Love from San Antonio, TX. xoxo!