Visible Men: An essay in the New York Times Book Review
I have an essay, "Visible Men," in the New York Times Book Review about teaching creative writing in prison:
The visits begin with a welcoming. The men rise from their circled chairs and thank me for coming to their cramped classroom. They hurry to get me tea or instant coffee and animal crackers, for which they have chipped in. They pass around a baggie of what my grandmother called penny candy: caramel squares and peppermint wheels, root beer barrels and Atomic Fireballs. Take a minute to breathe, they urge me. How’s your moms, your son?
After we’re settled, we go around the circle for a check-in. I had a visit. I moved cells. I worked on my garden plot. I worked on my appeal. They tell their mostly mundane news, each one finishing up with And with that, I’m in, conveying his commitment to the group’s efforts while passing the focus to the next man.
After everyone has spoken, we turn to our afternoon’s work with meditation. “Close your eyes,” one of them says. “Picture yourself in a green meadow, feeling the sun, the grass, the summer breeze.” He banishes the wasteland of prison and conjures color, life, peace.
Read the rest of the essay here.