a “book group” book?

Book siting at Phoenix Books, Essex

Book siting at Phoenix Books, Essex

When my dear friend and neighbor suggested that our next book group selection be Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write, my response came at reflex speed.

“It’s not that kinda book,” I told her, thinking back to our recent book selections, The Round House: A Novel and Duct Tape Parenting, a self-help guide for raising resilient, resourceful kids.

But she pressed me, “no, the stories here lend themselves to great conversations about childhood, trauma, addiction, being mothers, the impacts of incarceration, social safety nets or the lack thereof, your work with jailed women, the power of writing, etc., etc.”

OK, I thought, “I’m cool with that” and grateful for my book group’s interest. (We’re an eclectic group of working women, friends of friends, from Underhill to Burlington to Shelburne.)  Continue reading

the sweetest of reunions

 

 

‘Twas the sweetest of reunions…

Nine formerly imprisoned women now living in various communities throughout Vermont converged on Burlington’s Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center last Thursday evening, Oct. 3, for the book release of Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write.

We had written with these women over the course of four years at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility – they, once outfitted in gray sweats and flip-flops, writing together in stark rooms ascreech with slamming metal doors, and many many interruptions.

Now this Thursday night, each of them strode down the Film House aisle in heels, dresses, sequins, form-fitting skinny jeans, with hair freshly styled and makeup applied. Their faces communicated a mixture of eagerness and nerves, yet they overflowed with joyful presence to see us and each other.

Each woman writer – Angie, Belinda, Raven, Margarita, Tess, Valerie, Michele, Joellen, and Stacy – took a seat up front, held the microphone in turn, and read slowly and deliberately her own words from the pages of this just-released book of incarcerated women’s writings.  Continue reading

countdown time

It’s countdown time – just two days to go before our book reading & release event on Thursday evening, Oct. 3rd in Burlington, Vt.

Artwork by Shawna H. from "Hear Me, See Me"

Artwork by Shawna H. from “Hear Me, See Me”

Eight formerly incarcerated women (coming from all corners of the state) will join us on stage to read their poetry and prose from Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write.

We’ll also have a few incarcerated women from the work-release unit at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in attendance.

Sarah has tabulated the RSVPs, and it looks like we’ll have an audience of more than 225, including 50 family members connected to the women writers!  These new authors will be on hand after the reading portion of the evening to autograph books for guests.

This week, bestselling author Chris Bohjalian, who writes a regular Sunday column entitled Idyll Banter for the Burlington Free Press, penned a lovely validating essay about Hear Me, See Me. We are eternally grateful for his help in spreading the word.

Tomorrow Sarah debuts live on Vermont Public Radio’s noontime program Vermont Edition to talk about the book and read a few selections.  Break a leg, dear one!

We’ll post pictures after the reading event; you can still order your copy here. Huge thanks for your ongoing support!

Oh, and post an Amazon review if you’ve already purchased the book; we have two so far and welcome more.

book’s in hand

stack of booksCelebration time!

The first copies of Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write greeted me at the door when I arrived home from vacation.

What a gift to hold the words and voices of 60 of Vermont’s women prisoners and ex-offenders in my actual hands!

The front cover is more striking than the JPGs from publisher Orbis Books indicated, and the 12 inside color images of the women’s artwork provide soft and beautiful accents to the writings.

Order your copy now from Orbis Books or Amazon!  And if you’re in Burlington, Vermont on Thursday, Oct. 3rd, join us at 5:30 p.m. at Main Street Landing for the celebratory launch.

Here’s a snippet from the book’s introduction to whet your appetite:  Continue reading

keeping mothers and children together

Mother & Child by Bev Draper  (Sorrento, Italy)

Mother & Child by Bev Draper
(Sorrento, Italy)

The latest endorsement for our soon-to-be-published book Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write arrived this week.

It comes from Elizabeth Gaynes, J.D., executive director, of The Osborne Association in New York City. One of Osborne’s missions is to advocate for and develop alternatives to incarceration that respect the dignity of people and their capacity to change.

In particular, Osborne works to support and develop programs that keep mothers and their children together while a woman is serving her sentence.

..like JusticeHouse, a 45-bed program in Brooklyn announced this week that will allow carefully screened women with felonies to live with and continue to care for their children with supervision.

The participants will be visited several times a week by case managers, receive counseling about jobs, schools, and parenting. Some will be required to have treatment for drug addiction and mental illness.

The aim is to undergird and hopefully strengthen the mother-child relationship during this precarious time.  Continue reading