women unmasked

Masque baoulé

Masque baoulé (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week we received a packet from Monroe Country Correctional Center in Bloomington, IN. Women in G Block had read poems from HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write. Moved by those words, they penned responses to the authors here in VT during their own recent writing circle.

Our writers inside Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility last Thursday night witnessed firsthand how powerfully words can connect women. Women sharing the experience of incarceration, yes. But more than that, women unmasked and vulnerable connecting with one another through writing.

Because Thursday was also Halloween, we wrote about the masks we hide behind, the masks we want to become, the masks of who we once were. The poem by new writer TC, below, fairly explodes with the tension of masking the pain and loss of separation from her children. Another connection felt, made, witnessed. Continue reading

sizzling summer words

hugged by words

credit – edrissis

Like the rest of the Northeast, this past week in Vermont has been a sizzler. Nowhere has it been worse than inside the prison, with its few fans and close quarters. Despite brutal heat and humidity – with their attendant effects of slowing everyone down to a near-halt – we met at mid-week’s height of the heat with a dozen dedicated women.

Our theme? The power of our words. To ‘pull us from the depths of unknowing,’ as a line from Denise Levertov’s opening poem says. Words that fly with urgency or open like flowers. Words that hold us back or propel us forward.

Although each woman’s writing was different, arranging lines from each woman into a poem speaks to the universal experience of our lives. Heat or no heat!

How Much I’ve Grown, Given, Lost

I pushed aside something that mattered
when I left —
wonder if I’m on the right track,
afraid of not ‘getting it,’ over-thinking,
not measuring up to other people,
scared to make moves or changes.
Anxiety stops my imagination. Continue reading