at WHV: October 13, 2019 (MALE IN THE AREA)
The sunny day felt frigid as the
wind shifted the seasons. I arrived at the correctional facility and I was
excited to enter. I waited in the lobby at 4:15pm. The lobby was cold, the sun
that seeped through the high windows didn’t seem to warm up the area I was
sitting in. The area was quiet, the water fountain in the lobby was loud, then
the sound turned off and the only sound that echoed through the lobby was the
sound of the gates that let the visitors in and out.
S.H met us in the lobby, she instructed us to leave are belongings in a locker.
The other volunteers and me were patted down by the first officer. We were escorted
and asked to go through the metal detector and to take off our shoes and socks
for a thorough check. We walked through to receive our PPD (Personal protection
device) it’s a device for the volunteer’s safety. We walked through the facility
and made it outside, the walk way was steady, the grass rippled as wind fluffed
it. We walked towards the program building as we were greeted by the walking
inmates. We walk into the building. I was introduced to one of the participants
in the poetry workshop, Dorothy was gentle, she walked, counted the steps that
she hasn’t taken yet. We were introduced to our point officer.
4:45: we were
asked to sit in the room to watch a short film that expanded on procedures and guidelines
in the prison. The video was a converted VHS video into a DVD disc. The video
had the nostalgic static, ribbons of static noise that took over the screen. Shifting
the antennas in order to find that quality. The video was much older than
looks like a crotched blazar that didn’t move with the body language?
strips moving upwards on the screen
the video was over, 6:05pm came around and orientation was over. We walked
toward the restroom for the inmates. We were instructed to shout out “MALE IN
THE AREA” whenever walking past the area. I was by the officer and he told me
about what happens in the facility.
nothing I have seen before” seemed to be the following sentence after every description.
He was pleasant, he was friendly with all the inmates and addressed them by “Mrs.”
and “Ms.”. It was admirable, he treated them with a profound respect. 6:30 was
approaching and I stayed behind to meet with Rob and Adam.
I felt comfortable;
familiarity was the sense. The dynamic of the programs building didn’t feel
like an inmate/prison setting. All of the inmates were treating it as any
occupation, there were many roles in the building. Some did housekeeping, a few
were escorting and getting the rooms ready for the evening programs. It was comforting
to know that it wasn’t just a typical prison.
29th: Preparing for outreach (Women’s Huron Valley Correctional
Sunday the 29th of
September was gloomy. It’s actually my favorite weather. Driving to Ypsilanti I
was anxious to meet with Rob, Adam and David. We met at Cultivate, I enjoyed Cultivate.
Mostly because it was a coffee shop that can hold more than ten people. I walked
on from the soak of the heavy rain and I sat on a stool at 4:00pm. I waited for
minutes before Rob’s voice took me out of the daydream, cultivate was playing Korean
It was a good experience to sit with
Eastern Legends, we sat around the picnic table as the rain continued outside.
The coffee shop was slightly dimmed, and the perfect light with the natural
light from the window was the perfect weather to read the poems of some of the
inmates. I didn’t know what to expect from these workshops, and the nerves
mixed with anxiousness clouded my mind from accepting the work. Adam came in
with his leather bag and pulled out a laptop as we all did. The yellow manila
folder was filled with composition paper of the work that had been worked on from
the workshop. Each writer was as passionate as the next. Their words resonated.
We were only required to scribe, and correct grammatical mistakes as well as recommend
alternative words. I couldn’t help but to be involved in their pieces as I was
trying to type the poems up. This process was fulfilling. I have not been to
the prison yet, but knowing that the poems came from these workshops is nothing
short of impressive. The subjects were the most satisfying. Subjects like
connection, relationships and even the emotional capacity for death and loss was
I look forward to working with the
women of WHV. To be able to have a glimpse of the capability of creating these
pieces is exciting. The preparation is one of the components that I am looking
forward to, I deal with high school students and I am curious to learn how to
interact and be able to teach adults. I also look forward to working with the
Eastern alumni, it’s inspiring to hear more about their successes after achieving
their MFA’s in creative writing. It makes me just that much hopeful. I am glad
I am in this program.
That Saturday I woke in a daze; I
woke up to not only a break of from the long week but early. Who knew sleeping
in could be so difficult?
I finished all of my errands and made
my way down to Eastern, I looked forward to the Five on Fiction event because I
was excited to listen to Amanda Goldblatt speak on her work Hard Mouth. The
fictional story was not what I am used to, and for that I think I enjoyed it. Usually
I love reading about a character with abilities or some sort of floating
anything (Outside of a plane). The writers were poised and articulate. They
were confident, and you could tell just by listening to their passionate words
about all the things they have become passionate about. Words!
create images and then you are forced to relate to the character/characters. There
wouldn’t be a connection if you don’t feel inclined to do that. I enjoyed listening
to the authors speak. I have always been less inclined from learning too much
about the writer, in fact I try to stay away from any information concerning
the author just because I don’t want to know that it relates to them. It might
take away from my own position on it.
I always enjoyed fiction writing, it’s
a style that I want to be challenged with. I am always running toward and away
from poetry. I am inspired to indulge in fiction, I want to create something
out of nothing and be able to allow it to make sense to a reader.
pen and ink in pages…I am not sure what material the pages are made from)
that down during the five on fiction event. There was a feeling of comfort that
eased the room. Reading Amanda’s work and hearing her speak about it, was
rewarding. It makes me feel better that there is no pressure to writing a lengthy
piece of work. The longest piece I have written was a short story comprised of
27 pages (haha). I am not sure if it’s patience or just the reason to keep
going with the flow of writing that prevents me from doing so. All in all, I enjoyed
the five on fiction event. I was glad to be in the same room with Eastern
The day was pleasant, a warm evening
where the sun hid in the west. I had a good feeling about the
reading/discussion. She mentioned an array of topics that no one expands upon.
Like the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. This conflict is always overlooked
in the media, and if it is exposed it is always one-sided. Coming from a home
where there is Arabic cable, news sources never sensor the conflict and how
brutal it actually is. News sources to be credible should always reveal the
obligatory truth. I anticipated this topic just because it has always been a
topic that comes up frequently. Sarah Schulman is an eloquent authentic human
being. She was able to use her own experiences, and her acceptance of what is
around her to form her outlook now. I especially connected with her bringing up
the personal experience during her visit to Palestine. Acceptance and allowing,
I enjoyed her exposure, and respected her stance on being a human being at the
end of any event or occurrence. In her reading I valued the idea of “allowing”
and her position on allowing during the answers to the questions posed. “Allowing”
has been a subject I have been trying to grasp in my writing. It relates mental
health and being able to willingly accept whatever conflict someone internally has
to go through.
I was hoping she would expand on chapter
six; it was heavily related to the mental state and the psychological frames
that could have allowed for the foundation of the other chapters, perhaps. Overall,
I enjoyed the night, I felt if it was longer the discussion could have
continued after the few hours. There were many instances where the book
resonated with the reader and those that were there to listen. To shape a piece
of writing in the segments of political and social occurrences was relatable
and dignified. The writing felt like a conversation, or even a thinking out
loud moment. The wording and ideology behind the topics were exemplary. To be
able to advise with personal and structural writing is always impressive.
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