Teaching in Prison – notes from the Labyrinth

Richard Glossip — Help Save An Innocent Man

My friends, Sometimes, you just have to raise your voice. I know there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world right now, all vying for your attention.  This is one life. One man.  One innocent man. And maybe, just maybe, you can make a difference. I’ve written before about Troy Davis…

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A Great Day At The Prison

Some days are just wonderful.  It’s My Best Beloved’s birthday, and it’s Bailey’s birthday (our dog, known asThe Rescuepoo), and the hot-off-the-presses copy of my new novel arrived in the mail, which just makes me giddy with grinning . . . . but. . . the most wonderful thing about today happened in a prison.…

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Paul Muldoon — A Poet in the Prison

Last week, Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize and T.S. Elliot Prize winning poet and poetry editor of the New Yorker, came to visit the weekly class I teach at a prison here in New Jersey. The classroom is in the basement of the prison.  Bright primary-colored squares on the floor tiles, and pale blue walls strive…

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What Can't Be Taught

Being a writer, I write, but I also teach creative writing.  I teach a workshop once a month in a lovely bright room in a cafe in Princeton, New Jersey; and I teach once a week in a dim, goatish-smelling, basement cubbyhole in a prison in Bordentown, New Jersey.  Except for the setting, and perhaps…

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A City of Crumpled Paper

During my prison writing class this week, one of my students approached me and said he wanted to talk. Like all the men, he wears khaki scrubs and enormous khaki lace-up hiking boots (which seems a rather cruel joke).  Like most of the men, he towers above me.  I always forget how short I am…

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Antidote to arrogance

Once a week, I teach creative writing in a correctional facility for men.  We meet in a classroom on the lower floor of the prison, which one gets to by negotiating the usual labyrinth of corridors, past armed ‘threshold guardians’ of various sorts, descending flights of stairs going down, down, down, and a number of…

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