If the Walls Could Talk: Writing with Jail Incarcerated Women

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This page is dedicated to an individual session of the WE LEARN 2009 Conference.
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WE LEARN 2009
IF THE WALLS COULD TALK: WRITING WITH JAIL INCARCERATED WOMEN

Abstract: This Interactive workshop will offer ideas and exercises for facilitating trauma informed writing and creative arts groups with women in jail. It will provide specific exercises, examples and guidelines from an established group and will include participant discussion. The information and approach are useful for anyone working with women who have been marginalized and silenced.

Presenter: Pamela Wright

Presenter's Comments: This workshop draws on the work done by the facilitators and women in the Dutchess County Jail Women's Writing Group. While it provides specifics for the jail setting, the ideas are easily transferred to other contexts. It will include presentation of ideas and techniques, and discussion of:

• The value of writing and associated creative arts for women in a jail setting (as distinct from a prison setting) • Focusing the work of the group to maximize a sense of mastery for the women involved • Making the group trauma informed (This issue underlies everything presented in the session.) • Operating effectively within the constraints of the jail setting, i.e. making the program useful to the jail • Developing leadership within the group despite significant turnover (average length of stay in county jails is 21 days) • Encouraging a sense of community within the group and helping participants connect to the larger world of women writers • Welcoming women who don’t yet read • Involving the larger community in the project: colleges, interns, churches • Effective use of the group to connect the participants to community resources upon release

The goal will be to give those who attend the workshop tools to begin exploring creating a writing group appropriate to their settings, both as a result of the facilitator’s presentation and discussion by the attendees.


Related Resources: To be added.

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