what is real

abstract visual of reality

by pamela

There is no place like prison for hearing what is real. Stark, painful, funny, poignant, harsh. All of it. What was real one recent night was extreme heat, no fans, and a wild array of writing. Writing that ranged from explicitly sexual to harrowingly life-threatening. Writing that included tributes to a mentor and to a young charge at daycare.

What is real has no singular definition or identity. It just is. Likewise, this poem ‘found’ from the lines spoken that stuffy evening, when I was challenged to ‘see what THAT poem will look like‘ from such disparate writings. And here it is – as real and visceral and true as each and every woman writing around the table.

Here is What is Real

My closet full of fuck-its.
Five badass kids in the back of the car.
This hell known to the outside world as CRCF –
I was counting on that money.
Teaching my little sister how to swim.
Being in the presence of a charmer.
A cherry of wisdom from whoever may be speaking.
The choice to go over the cliff or up the tree. Continue reading

mindfully drumming – part 2

This past winter, a colleague and I began a grand experiment – to design and co-facilitate a drumming & mindfulness practice program for 20 women prisoners incarcerated at the Chittenden Correctional Facility.

Walking Meditation  By barliquin

Walking Meditation
By barliquin

Vermont Works for Women, with some generous private funding, gave us its blessing and guidance to make the pilot project happen.

If you recall, the aim was to teach band drum-line techniques and mindfulness exercises over 16 weeks to reduce stress and anxiety in some of the most challenging inmates.

The women participants, or as they named their band – ONE SOUND, ONE SOUL – graduated from the program this past May.

Here’s a recap of their inspiring progress in my Vermont Public Radio commentary that aired just this morning.  Enjoy the listen!