why we write inside

Following last week’s writinginsideVT circle, we received the following comments from three of the participants:

‘This writing has helped me realize how to let go of things. I write my thoughts and feelings, think about it, and then let it go. I have a better way of handling myself. It has saved a lot of heartache and unnecessary arguments with my loved one.”

“Being with the group for so long, I have come to realize that it has been one of the best forms of therapy for me, that I never would have thought to try. Walls and layers of ‘thick skin’ have been pumiced away, as the words I write slowly began to soften my heart and open my mind to new ways to release the horrors I kept locked away for most of my life. This group is absolutely my saving grace.”

“I can leave whatever stresses/chaos are in my life at the door; or feel free to bring them in with me and work through them with pen and ink. This circle allows me to open up and purely create. It is constantly reminding me there is beauty, creativity and even light in the darkest of places.”

‘a sense of belonging together on a creative level’

English: A Sense of Belonging, acacia cedar sc...

Image via Wikipedia

This was one of many responses after last week’s ‘read-around,’ an opportunity for those who have been writing weekly inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility to read to guests.  All guests were other inmates who signed up to attend. At the end of the reading, everyone was invited to write a response to the question: ‘what would draw you to the group, and what would keep you away?’ Given that this reading was the first exposure to ‘writinginsidevt’ for well over half the women present, the comments speak volumes to both what women hunger for; and how strongly the safety of our circle is conveyed through our practices and words.

‘What would draw me to the group would be the sense of belonging together on a creative level; a sense of comraderie as well as self. What would keep me from coming back would be for the group to become about materialistic things rather than what we can take away. That I feel is something I desperately need in my life. It’s about getting what you put in!’ Continue reading

we are waiting for . . .

What we want

. . .  a letting go, a blind falling . . . permission to breathe again . . . as if our whole lives depended on . . .

These phrases from Linda Pastan’s poem, “Interlude,” opened last week’s writing circle inside Vermont’s prison for women. The ten women around the table lifted pens, wrote without stopping for 20 minutes on yellow tablets, then shared their words — some with trepidation, some boldly, some with tenderness. After their words had been held and heard, we spoke back into the circle phrases that resonated with us. These ‘read-back’ lines became the material for the following ‘found’ poem, whose title is one of the lines:


 moral fibers now frayed
force my shoulders to drop
teetering between my two selves
self-righteous self-loathing
twisted into shards
struggling to breathe
in the armor I construct for myself. Continue reading