Telling Stories beyond SpeakOut!  

For this month’s dialogue, let’s get to know another prison writing program by reading some work anthologized in Wagudu Journal ( and featuring women writers from Wyoming prisons.  Read the introduction to the collection and several (or more) pieces.  Choose at least three to discuss in your posting.  

 If you were able to attend the WY Prison Education Symposium, please make a few observations about that as well.  What was most compelling?  What will you take back to your workshop?

Circulating Communities

Choose one or two of the essays you read in the Circulating Communities book and consider the editors’ opening queries (from the introduction): “…beneath the discussion of the “form” of community writing groups and publishing is the question of intent: What is the ideological framework in which this work takes place? Why do these individuals and groups feel called to write in the first place?”

 Engage these questions by offering examples from both a couple of the projects highlighted in the book and your own SpeakOut experience.

We’re back!!

Consider the two essays we’ve read so far this semester (Gold on writing with at-risk youth and Myers on writing family stories) and the many ideas they suggest about working with writers.  Choose one concept from either text (e.g. the Pongo method or mentoring or healing or…) and briefly describe and respond to it.  How might it resonate with the writers you work with?  How might you adapt it? 

 Please respond in 300 words or so by Feb. 8–and give a brief response to a peer.

Wild tongues

Think about the ethical considerations raised by both Reynolds and Anzaldua.  What does it mean to tame wild tongues that are confined? Is writing/language empowering or disabling for the writers you work with? What are the risks? Do you encourage or temper wild tongues in your workshop? Please support your thinking with at least one example from your workshop and the readings.

A Place to Stand

Jimmy Santiago Baca covers a lot of ground in his memoir, A Place to Stand: violence, family, relationship, self-worth, ethnicity and identity, cultural instability, racism….the list goes on.  

 He also says this early on: “Poetry helped make me the person I am today, awakening creative elements that had long lain dormant in me, opening my mind to ideas, and enabling my intellect to nourish itself on alternative ways of being.”

 From the stance of a facilitator working with confined writers, how does this resonate with your experience so far?  Can poetry (or writing generally) do this?  Is it happening for any of the writers you are working with?  How?  Why?

 [Also feel free to bring up any of the issues in that first list or others you see.]

Power and Publication

Spend a few moments reflecting upon the challenges outlined by Jacobi and Johnston and your first few weeks of the workshop. What kinds of challenges do you anticipate emerging from your writing group? How do we balance the power of making writing public with the ethical concerns that come with publication? Talk with each other!

Welcome to new interns — introduce yourselves!

Looking forward to a strong and creative year with seven newly-minted interns!

Take this space to introduce yourselves to each other, present your thoughts on literacy (in the light of your reading by Flower et al.), and musings on your future work in community spaces to facilitate creative workshops.

How are you defining community literacy? What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge at your community site? The biggest reward?

Glad to have you all part of the SpeakOut! team in the Community Literacy Center. Welcome.