Hopefully, you got to (safely) check out today’s Great American Eclipse! While we may have gone silent on the interweb this summer, we’ve been working harder than ever to help our students develop their stories. In a collaboration with Prison Writes, we recently completed a 6-week women’s salon where we worked on stories about motherhood, the ascent from girlhood to womanhood and survival tales from the hood. The officers informed us that several of our students were known trouble-makers but after being put in our class, they avoided infractions in order to participate. This is a measure of success by DOC standards.
The class was empowering for everyone involved and because it was a critique workshop, the women had to do their writing outside of class. They diligently showed up with new work each week and gave and received critiques better than some professionals I’ve encountered in the writing field.
We were thrilled to learn that some of the women were sending their work home to family and were bonding over the stories they’d written. This is a measure of success by The Kite’s standards.
On the final week, we hosted an open-mic jam session at Rosie’s (the women’s facility) where students performed their work to a large audience of civilians and fellow inmates. Our writers lit it up an extra notch by reciting poetry, giving listeners a glimpse of what it is to be Black, incarcerated, and American.
We produced a class zine out of this workshop but, just like in our youth program, we must wait for approval by the department of public information before we can share publicly. It’s our hope that this will become a thing and we’ll be invited to do more adult salons in the future.
On another note, we have some great events coming up in the community. Our Str8-Outta-Rikers classes begin the second week of September and will be hosted in downtown Brooklyn. These special re-entry classes offer mentorship for students who’ve returned home and wish to continue their writing journey. For two hours once a week, we’ll have staff available to work on resumes, college apps, essays, poetry and spoken word pieces. We’ll also be preparing for an open-mic event, happening at the end of October to acknowledge Youth Justice Month. The theme is “Unmasking” and will be a costume party on the weekend before Halloween. We hope that you can come hear our youth speak and possibly sign up to read a piece about your own experience behind the mask.
To RSVP and receive further details about locations email firstname.lastname@example.org