The women’s book club at Hazelton Correctional Center continues to meet every other week to discuss books, to write, and to figure out this world. Yesterday we discussed Fred Chappelle’s novel _I Am One of You Forever_, recommended by one of the members who is from North Carolina. It was a lively thoughtful discussion that touched on Southern humor and storytelling, on ghosts, dreams, and novelistic structure, on fathers and sons (and a couple great lines from a mom). Next up: Their Eyes Were Watching God.
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From WVU’s Eberly Magazine: “A clarifying moment in Mike Buso’s life was in downtown Morgantown in the headquarters of a nonprofit while opening a misaddressed letter.
“The letter was to the Appalachian Prison Book Project, founded and directed by WVU English faculty, from an inmate.
“He misspelled three of the four words in our name: he misspelled Appalachian, he misspelled book and project,” Buso said. “The only thing he spelled right was prison. He had the wrong ZIP code and he had the wrong P.O. box number and yet somehow the letter still got to us.”
“The request was simple. While many of the people writing requests to the project ask for specific book titles or genres and offer up commentary, this man simply wanted books.
“There’s something about that basic earnest request for knowledge,” Buso said. “That to me is why I want to be a teacher, a professor. It’s why I’m here and APBP’s mission is one that I can get behind so easily.” Read more
Thanks to Jean Trounstine for her wonderful article on the need for higher education inside US prisons. A friend of APBP, Jean visited WVU and participated in our 2014 Symposium on Educational Justice. Her article provides a summary of educational efforts and makes clear the importance of Pell Grants for those who are imprisoned.
Jean also refers to the work of Jon Marc Taylor. For years I have been teaching an article by Jon, published in PEN’s anthology, Doing Time: 25 Years of Prison Writing. Jon’s advocacy and research from inside prison was my introduction to the politics of higher education and imprisonment. Below is a note about Jon’s health.
“I am a friend of Jon Marc Taylor, PhD whose work is discussed in this article. Jon did path-breaking work on restoring Pell Grants. Very tragically, Jon had a severe stroke on Feb. 23, 2014 while in solitary on trumped up charges that he had contraband in his cell. As it turned it the “contraband” was butter belong to his cellie. He initially got some rehabilitation but not nearly what he could have received if he was not in prison. He can no longer write and has difficulty framing his thoughts. His lawyers are working on presenting his case (again) to the MO parole board in 2016. You can write to Jon and thank him for his work.
Jon Marc Taylor, PhD
503273, 3A102 Southeast Correctional Center
300 East Pedro Simmons Drive
Charleston, MO 63834