APBP has been awarded honorable mention in the 2018 National Book Foundation Innovations in Reading Prize!! Check out the cool company we are in and our new logo created (just in time!) by an incarcerated artist and member of the Men’s Prison Book Club. APBP has received $1,000 to support our educational work!
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As the semester draws to a close, I wanted to share some of the many lessons I’ve learned during my time at APBP:
- One book can change the course of a person’s life. Letter after letter describes the impact of books. Books are solace. Books are freedom to explore beyond the incarcerated space. Books bring joy and knowledge. Books make time move a little faster.
- Book donations can reveal a lot about a person’s life. As I unpacked boxes of donations, I often felt like I was looking at timelines of people’s lives. These books are when they studied for the LSAT; these are when they were about to become a parent; these are the countless hours spent awake, escaping into fantastical worlds.
- I often wondered what a donation of my life of books would look like. I can picture the volunteer cracking open one box with Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Dwayne Bett’s A Question of Freedom, Douglas Blackmon’s Slavery by Another Name, Assata Shakur’s and Malcolm X’s autobiographies. These books are when she discovered the histories hidden behind the ones she’d previously known.
- The little things matter. One wrong number, a stain on a page, a staple, a smudged name, or a torn corner can prevent the book from ever finding its home.
- People disappear too easily.
- The barriers between books and incarcerated people grow each day. Publisher only. Vendor Only. Only white envelopes only. (Yes, they used two “only”s.)
- When the barriers seem to multiply and frustrations mount, organizing bookshelves can help.
- People’s names matter. So many incarcerated people write of loneliness, of not having family or correspondence. They express gratitude for our use of their names, as we scribble little notes in the margins of our form letter.
- APBP is made up of amazing people: high school students, university students, and community members, people who want to be lawyers, people who were lawyers, people who remind us to breathe, people who want to enact social change, people who want to bring education into incarcerated spaces, people who have an eye for the details, people who dream big, people whose children, friends, and family have been incarcerated.
- Incarcerated letter writers are eager to learn how to defend themselves legally, how to create with their hands, how to build a sustainable life after, how to read, how to speak another language, and how to understand the people around them.
- In the people, there is hope.
Thank you APBP for continuing to teach me.
Maggie Montague, APBP Intern, Spring 2018
A class of Morgantown High students chose APBP as their service-learning site for spring 2018–and we are so glad! After learning about the educational mission of APBP, they spent last Wednesday at the Aull Center responding to letters. Many thanks to Mr. Colistra and Ms. Mays for creating this beautiful opportunity.
WVU Junior Emma Harrison has been named a Truman Scholar! Emma was a student in Katy Ryan’s WVU Inside-Out class (Justice and Literature) in the fall of 2017. She is dedicated to higher education in prison and will be doing an internship with APBP during the 2018-2019 year. This is an incredible honor and so well-deserved. Read all about it here!
This Saturday, APBP is having an open, informal, all-day planning session. 9:00 – 4:00 in the Shenandoah Room in the Mountainlair (first floor by the post office). Everyone is welcome!
We will be talking about how to strengthen our efforts, build greater community, mail more books!
If you cannot make it but are interested in serving on a committee or becoming more involved, let us know at email@example.com.
Here is the schedule. Feel free to come and go.
APBP PLANNING SESSION
APRIL 7, 2018
9:00 – 9:15 Coffee and Bagels
9:15 – 9:30 Welcome and Introductions / Breathing Meditation
9:30 – 10:15 Working Sessions
10:15 – 11:00 Reports from Sessions
11:00 – 11:45 Working Sessions
11:45 – 12:30 Reports from Sessions
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch Break
1:30 – 2:15 Working Sessions
2:15 – 3:00 Reports from Sessions
3:00 – 4:00 Visions / Specific Action Plans
MORNING SESSIONS (the work)
AULL CENTER BOOK PROCESS (9:30 – 11:00)
- Community Experience
- WVU Student Experience
EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS (11:00 – 12:30)
- Education Inside (Book Clubs; Classes; Workshops)
- Education Outside (Social Media, Website, Newsletter, Podcasts, Educational Events)
AFTERNOON SESSIONS (the organization)
WORK THAT SUPPORTS THE WORK (1:30 – 2:45)
- Board Structure and Committee Work
VISIONS AND ACTION PLANS (3:00 – 4:00)
Kristin DeVault is a sophomore at West Virginia University, who grew up in Mason County, West Virginia. Kristin transferred to WVU last semester from Fairmont State to pursue a degree in Social Work and minors in Communications and American Politics in Policy. This school year Kristin works in the first-ever Federal Work Study position for APBP. Here is what she has to say about the experience.
“Not knowing quite what to expect other than working with a lot of books, I was anxious but very enthusiastic to start this job. Now, I realize that there was never a reason to be nervous about becoming a part of this organization. From my first day, I was welcomed with friendliness, warmth, and patience from everyone. I have learned a lot at APBP. Not only do I know how to wrap a book to make sure that it survives its journey through the mailing system, I know the massive impact that APBP has on the community, volunteers, and the individuals receiving books.
“There is something very raw and touching about opening letters for the first time, as inmates express their need for educational materials, books to read as a temporary escape, or as gifts for their friends. A letter that has impacted the way I think of my work at APBP was a man writing to request materials on his friend’s favorite subject, vintage cars and motorcycles, because his friend was confined to a wheelchair and unable to access the library. My job at APBP is more than sending books to prisoners. It bridges an information and resource gap between two completely different worlds.”