seen and heard

HEAR ME, SEE ME book authors insideLast week, we brought HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write to CRCF, enough for each woman currently inside who has ever written with us and chose to receive one.

About 17 writers streamed to our weekly meeting room clamoring for this long-awaited moment. Another 15 joined the line and left, book clutched to chest, no doubt to peruse the pages after laundry, kitchen or hall cleaning duties were done. A dozen women elected to stay with us for an impromptu reading.

Once again I was struck by the power of our process. Since we started the program four years back, we have sought to bring the voices of silenced women from inside themselves, and the prison, out to the world. We do this with regular blog posts, quarterly anthologies and semi-annual readings. We did this with the book and its launch.

And weekly, we do this in a modest circle in a windowless room through a safe, mirroring community that helps each of us see ourselves, hear ourselves and one another into awareness and speech.

We often refer to the ‘arc of experience’ a woman follows in her time inside, one we see intimately within the writing circle.  During last week’s book celebration inside, I saw that arc manifest in the responses of three different women. Continue reading

former woman prisoner reaches out

Former women prisoners who participated in writinginsideVT get in touch to update us on their progress periodically.  When I opened my email this morning, I was greeted by the words below.  My heart leaped, then sank.  How can we expect a woman to re-enter her previous impoverished home environment with limited resources..and be successful?

i was reading some of my old things and i wanted to reach out.  i miss the groups and writing so much.  i’m not doing so well, i’m sorry to disappoint u.  i know u had alot of hope for me.

i went to the web site to check (your program) out.  i still wish there was a writing circle here.  it’s really something i need in my life. writing-inside changed me.  unfortunately, poverty erases change and ur left with desperation, broken dreams, forgotten hope, and a hole lot of despair.

i’m not really sure where to go or what to do.  i had this crazy idea that maybe if i changed my environment, i’d be more able to change my choices, maybe even change my path.

when i read my writing i remember a time when i had hope in myself, when i realized my dreams.  u gave me an opportunity, a strength i never knew i had.  i hope u know the impact u had on my life even if it was only six months.  you gave me something no one else has.  you believed in me, in possibilities. i really would like to believe those things still exist.