"As a person who has spent the vast majority of his adult life caught up in a cycle of crime, drug addiction and prison, writing has been the one thing that has allowed me to reconnect with a part of myself that I lost sight of a long, long time ago. Writing and sharing my story has given me the opportunity to rediscover who I really am, who I was meant to be, and to finally begin realizing my potential."
“The only reason I'm not in seg is because of this class."
"Built up anger, avoidance of emotions, silence of my voice from fear of judgment/exposure. To be me as only I know I am without the looks and opinions of others. I can yell, argue and fight without doing any harm to someone else. To empty my gut, relax my mind and free my soul: happiness, sadness, freedom—that’s the value of creative writing to me."
"I spent many years of my life with no voice. No way of saying what I needed to say or think that what I had to say had any merit. Through writing I’ve found a way to give voice to my thoughts, ideas and feelings. What comes out in my writing is what I struggle to say with my own mouth."
"Taking this class has helped me overcome many weaknesses and build confidence."
"I’ve learned so much about not only how to write, but through personal essays and the emotions and thoughts of my characters I’ve learned a ton about myself."
"Being in prison and having a way to be creative and express myself has helped me through my time. I’ve learned to come out of my cell and wonder what is on the other side of that dusty, brown gravel road that is life."
"I feel like a writer now."
MN Department of Corrections:
"Your class will be something these guys will remember forever. They look for anything or anyone who seems to care about them and their quest for personal redemption or growth. We are in the redemption business, so I will keep supporting people who can bring the type of positive programming that you do. If one guy doesn't come back to prison or one guy's life is changed, it is worth it."
--John King, Assistant Commissioner of Corrections, MN DOC
"I could not have been more impressed with the writing presented by these men."
--George Kimball, Director of Adult Education, MN DOC
"I am always looking for alternative and enhanced learning opportunities and venues for our students. The 10-week Creative Writing class at our facility has been an invaluable experience to our population. The students thoroughly enjoyed it and are hoping other classes will be offered. We look forward to continuing this initiative."
--Jeanne Michels, Education Director,
MCF – Oak Park Heights
"It has been my experience that there are many creative men in our prisons. Creative writing is one way for them to not only express their creativity, but also their life experiences. This process can be very therapeutic for the individual, and when shared with others, affect them profoundly. The men are so appreciative of these teachers’ gifts, as am I."
--Patricia Pawlak, Education Director,
MCF – Stillwater
"The students greatly valued their experience in the MPWW course. Our instructor connected with the group in a very meaningful way, which enabled the students to take some risks with their writing and with sharing their work. Those who were writing prior to the course found a renewed energy and focus in their work, while some who had never thought of themselves as writers took that initial step which is sometimes so difficult. Once they began, they found that they had so much to say! So many incarcerated individuals have so many thoughts, ideas, and feelings that they want to communicate and this class gave them a voice to do just that."
--Suzanne Ursino, Special Teacher,
MCF – Oak Park Heights
"I can say with no hyperbole that MPWW has transformed me, my approach to writing, and my identity as an artist. I've been working with my mentee now for over a year and a half and with each exchange, I think to myself, this is how art transcends boundaries. This is how art can touch on universal human experience while fostering individual growth."
"I think of a concrete sidewalk where you still have the grass growing up through the cracks despite the conditions. These guys keep showing up."
"As a teacher, I felt that I was having an impact, both on the inmates' writing skills and on thoughtful perspectives on their lives, past and present. The beginner writers improved quickly and the writing shared by the advanced writers was of high quality and sometimes astounding. Because we were able to focus, a lot was accomplished in our sessions. As a person who seeks to bring light into dark places, it was gratifying on many levels: heart-breakingly poignant, inspiring, thought provoking, powerful stories were written and read. It was empowering for both myself and for the inmates to have their voices heard as writers."
"My students were polite, eager and engaged. They took risks, worked hard, and wasted not one second of the opportunity they'd been given. They surprised themselves time and again with their work; they surprised me too. They compiled a journal, gave a reading, and most importantly, they found worth and reward through writing and learning. They reminded me that words have power and radiance can be found anywhere."
--Jennifer Bowen Hicks
"I've never had more grateful or respectful students than the ones I taught through MPWW. Their eagerness to learn and really engage in the craft was amazing."