Write In/About Prison

CCA and San Quentin Writing Workshop students exchanged written works exploring the roots, themes, social and psychological significance of the “prison writing” genre.

Project Objective

In “Write In/About Prison,” ENGAGE students participated in writing exchanges with Writing students in the San Quentin Writing Workshop “Finding Your Voice on the Page” based on selected topics that included written and class critiques.  The class explored the roots, themes, social, and psychological significance of the “prison writing” genre enriched by texts written about and by prisoners.  ENGAGE students participated in the “San Quentin / CCA Throwdown,” a writing competition between CCA MFA in Writing students and inmate writing students in “Finding Your Voice on the Page.”   “Write In/About Prison” also included guest speakers who were writers, advocates, ex-cons, and professionals who work with incarcerated men and women or who are transitioning from prison.

Project Outcome(s)

Written materials from “Write In/About Prison” were gathered for a “Throwdown” collection of fiction, critical, and nonfiction works by both CCA students and inmates at San Quentin.  The book is a physical expression of the peer relationships formed during the ENGAGE course and only identifies the authors by name, not their institutional affiliations.  Materials selected from both CCA student and San Quentin writers were also shared at a reading held at the CCA Writers’ Studio on the San Francisco campus.


Teaching Creative Writing

Inquisitive Oakland School for the Arts students learn literary arts from CCA student-teachers

Project Objective: 

In “Teaching Creative Writing”, ENGAGE students taught students at Oakland School of the Arts and created a portfolio of lesson plans and creative writing syllabi in poetry, fiction and plays. For each assignment ENGAGE students crafted lectures and identified the learning objectives/ goals for their Literary Arts class while learning to work through potential stumbling blocks.

Project Outcomes(s):

“Teaching Creative Writing” introduced students to both the practical and conceptual aspects of teaching creative writing and a unique hands-on experience to teach Literary Arts to High School students. Through their experience with students at Oakland School of the Arts, “Teaching Creative Writing” participants were able to fine-tune their teaching materials as welcomed guest teachers in the classroom. At the conclusion of “Teaching Creative Writing,” ENGAGE students created a chapbook to highlight the final writings of OSA students that they mentored and invited the OSA students to read their work at the CCA Writers Studio.