Friday, May 23, 2014

Publishing jail poetry

I don't think I've ever plugged a Kickstarter campaign on Grits, but a friend of the blog suggested this one by a young creative writing instructor named Kelsey Erin Shipman who volunteers to teach poetry classes at the Travis County jail: She needs $500 to publish a limited edition of inmate poetry from her class and looks to be a third of the way there. A worthwhile cause. Looking at her page, though, then listening to her video, I think she buried her lede. The pitch could have been truncated to these three themes:
  • "If any part of you believes that inmates deserve to be rehabilitated and that it's healthy for society to rehabilitate its criminals, you should know it's not happening on the institutional level."
  • "I listen to their stories, I try to teach them how to turn their suffering, their pain, their confusion into works of art. And that's beautiful."
  • "Teaching in jail has reminded me over and over again who art is for: It's for the survivors."
If you're the kind of person who supports such things, support it. It's a small project but would bolster a fledgling program in innumerable ways.

The folks on the ground doing educational programs or jail ministry are few and far between, with the handful of writing instructors among them particularly close to my heart. Those of us not doing that work ought to help 'em when we can. Throw her a bone, Grits readers.

UPDATE (6/24): Looks like y'all pushed this project over the top! According to the kickstarter page, her project has topped $550 in pledges, up from $170 yesterday morning. Though I've no doubt they could still use a few extra bucks if anyone were so inclined, that means her publishing project should now be fully funded. Thank you, folks, and good luck to Ms. Shipman.

FINAL UPDATE (6/26): It looks like the final tally was $821 pledged, nearly five times the total when I published this post. Thanks, Grits readers, for supporting this young lady's work.


Jefe said...

I sent $50.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

God Bless you Scott, My wife and I publish a paper about homelessness, don't worry Im not putting the arm on you. I simply want to thank you and Your other readers for the love and compassion you showed for those people. If one person learns to re channel their energy from negative to positive and stops the cycle in their life. Then we as a society have begun to win and rebuild ourselves into the people we were who care for each other like we are supposed to. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for caring Yall, Thank You very much.

Robert Langham said...

Of course SOME people think bad poets OUGHT to be jailed.....h 2992