Benefit for Prison Writing Programs

I was so honored to benefit and highlight prison creative writing programs across the United States by joining in an evening of poems and stories with the theme WILDERNESS on Thursday, March 7th, during the 2013 AWP Conference in Boston.
Kristen Millares Young Reading at Literary Wilderness Benefit
I was in stellar company — other readers included Matt BondurantErin Celello, Lucy ChristopherBronwen DickeyAnn Wertz GarvinSarah GreenDaniel B. JohnsonJill McDonoughMaggie MessittJen MooreSamuel ParkSuzanne RobertsLiz Stephens and Matthew Zapruder.  For more details:
I first met the benefit organizer, Maggie Messitt, in 2010 at UC Berkeley’s Knight Digital Media Center; as multimedia fellows, we practiced digital storytelling skills by creating a fun little project about the Redwood Valley Railway.  Maggie is a dynamic storyteller and community builder; I am honored that she included me in this evening, which also has a Facebook page.
We’re still  seeking the help of authors, booksellers, publishers, and individuals to make donations of or towards classroom sets of books to be distributed to a handful of prison creative writing programs. Books can be new or used, and we’re seeking a wide range of literature.
If you’re interested in book donations, please fill out the pledge form. If you’d like to donate, but need time to organize, do not fret — we understand it takes time.  If you’re an author, donate your own book or a book that has helped shape the writer you are today. If you’re a bookseller, consider supporting a local author by donating a class-set of their latest work. If you’re a publisher, we encourage you to participate, as well. And, if you’re an individual, consider organizing a group of friends/colleagues to collectively donate a class-set of books (12 – 15 copies), or contact us to arrange the purchase of a single book that will be put towards a class-set.
The Writers in Prisons Project is a collective of writers, performers, and literary scholars in Wisconsin. “We believe all people have a right and responsibility to thoughtful self-expression and literary engagement. We are committed to making a space for this to happen in one of the most under-served areas in our respective communities: our prisons. In partnership with correctional facilities, we offer voluntary classes in literature, memoir, poetry and spoken word, and African American studies for inmates. These classes are not accredited, as we are not a University program, but all facilitators are highly skilled volunteers who believe that making space for this kind of engagement and education can help to reduce recidivism, improve literacy, and increase our felt sense of humanity.”
Many were in Boston for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual conference…this off-site AWP event was open to the public and free-of-charge from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, March 7th, at the Old South Church in Boston, 645 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116.  We hope to repeat the benefit during the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle.

© 2013 Kristen Millares Young.