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.