My name is Vanita Seed and I am a student researcher for the Carceral State Project at the University of Michigan. I have also volunteered with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), a University program that publishes an annual volume of creative writing by writers incarcerated in Michigan correctional facilities. As a researcher, I was curious to see what writers have to say about their experiences of being incarcerated. I was particularly interested in seeing how writers use creative writing to communicate about their experiences inside. To do so, I went through each volume of published work and selected the pieces that were about prison or had some relation to the subject. I put all of the pieces together in this special edited volume and organized it so that you can walk through the experiences of prison along with the writers. As you read, I implore you to imagine yourself in the writers’ shoes. What would it be like to be in their place, to experience what they’ve experienced?
When asked what he would like to share with readers of this special volume, writer James Adrian said this: “[I want] people to know that what we share is created under the worst conditions known to man. The amount of strength, courage and discipline it takes to put others before ourselves in a place like prison demands a high level of compassion and empathy. We all have a reason that we write. I write to motivate and inspire and finally do something that would make my mother, brothers, and sisters proud of me.”
After reading these pieces, what will you decide to do with what you learn from these writers? How will you choose to act upon–or at the very least, honor–their experiences?
Instructions: Start from the first tab at the top and read through each tab through to get the full experience of reading this volume like a “book.”