Fourteen men at Hazelton Correctional Center prepared a 3-hour interactive workshop for the sixteen students in my graduate prison studies class last night (ENGL 631). As always with a large group, there were a million logistical challenges, clearances and concerns about dress code, a caravan of cars, exhaustion. Once we were there, none of that mattered. Within minutes an ice breaker had everyone laughing and deep in conversation. The two facilitators read a poem, a poem written by a woman in another prison, and asked us this question, “how do you live life without detaching yourself from reality.” In pairs, groups of 4, then larger groups, we went round & round this question, debating what constitutes reality, detachment, and living life. I’m so grateful to the men in the Hazelton Think Tank, to staff who stayed late to make this happen, to my open-hearted students who are already changing the world, to APBP which has supported the book clubs, and without the book clubs, both of them, this beautiful workshop would not have happened.
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On April 11, the student APBP organization hosted a wonderful fundraiser at 1-2-3 with music by Beth Staley and Matthew Thomas. Thanks to Phoenix Bakery for donating pizza (and to Alex Kessler for making the pizza!) and to everyone who came out. Special thanks to Avery Williamson who pulled it all together. Raised over 230.00!
How did APBP volunteer Jordan Carter spend part of her birthday — at the Aull Center wrapping one book for each year she’s been on the planet!
The second annual JMU-WVU/APBP Service-Learning Weekend was a great success!
Eight inspiring JMU students spent their weekend with APBP, reading letters, wrapping books, watching documentaries, and talking about the criminal justice system. In our final discussion they started to brainstorm about how they could start this kind of work on their own campus. So beautiful. Here are some lines from their feedback: “from this experience I feel enlightened/amazed/ astonished because my eyes have been opened”; “this weekend has fueled my hunger to know more, and become more prepared to advocate and educate… There is so much to be done”; “It’s exciting to think of bringing a similar project to JMU”; “I cannot put into words all of the things I will take away. I know I leave here with a new sense/fire for doing everything I can to educate and become more involved…I take away HOPE.”
APBP is featured on WVU News (6:00 mark). Wonderful interviews with Mark Brazaitis and Delia Trickett!
From APBP’s wonderful graduate intern SJ Stout–
Today, the women’s book club at Hazelton totally blew my mind. This week we discussed Kazuo Ishiguro’s dystopian novel Never Let me Go. Whether loving it or hating it, we all delved in…debating about characters, ethics, personhood, control, and freedom. The novel left many of us perplexed, and touched. In the central premise, a group of children find themselves as “lucky pawns” in a system that (literally) preys on their bodies. That is, the children are cared for and tended to, but ultimately sacrificed and used up without their consent. We wanted to know, is it better to be handled gently but ultimately manipulated and used? Or is it better to know clearly and without illusion one’s own servitude? We can be controlled by soothing indoctrination (propaganda) or by cruel force. Katy insisted, “There has to be a third door. In this book there is no third door.” To which, someone else replied, “That’s where the sadness is.”