We just finished another weekend writers’ workshop in Matsqui Prison in Abbotsford. Thirteen writers from the lower mainland submitted documents so that the prison would know we weren’t up for any serious charges. It takes effort to comply with all the prisons’ requirements, but we did it.
We met with the inmate writers on Saturday morning at 9 AM and we left to go home that day at 5:30 PM. We had lunch and dinner with the men.
On Sunday we met again at 9 AM and stayed until 3:30, having lunch again with everyone.
All weekend we worked on writing, sometimes all 26 of us together and other times we broke in three groups and wrote or talked about writing. The subject of the weekend was not ‘prison,’ it was ‘writing,’ although the subject of prison often came up.
I’ve been doing these weekends for almost ten years now. They have an amazing effect on both inmates and visitors. The inmates see that real people are writers and that feel honored that outsiders give up a weekend to meet with them. But it’s a two way street. The outsiders come to know these “criminals” as people, some with great ability and some just beginning to write. All learn from the writing discussions.
A few of our group had never been in a prison before. Within a few minutes of our arrival, the men make everyone feel at home.
We hold these workshops twice a year. If you might be interested, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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