From the ferry: 3/19/09

Posted: March 20, 2009 in from the ferry
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My commute to and from the prison includes a twenty minute ferry crossing plus however long I get to sit in line to wait to board. It’s a good time to reflect on the night at Monroe, to record first impressions and document those moments that are resonating with me the most before I have a chance to filter them or make them academic. I’ll post these thoughts from the ferry each time I go to Monroe.


My entries of late have been a little bleak, I fear. Or if not bleak then heavy-minded. Writing about prison certainly doesn’t always lend itself to lightness of any kind. But I do find myself wishing sometimes as I travel home that I had a better way of painting a picture of what it is like when I am actually there, at the prison, with the guys in our group. It’s not depressing. Sad sometimes. Sobering. But not depressing. We laugh a lot actually.


Tonight we had a band. I repeat, a band. Prison never ceases to surprise. In place of the anger management group that has been sharing the visitor’s room with us over the past couple of months, tonight one of the prisoner bands was setting up and sound-checking for a community performance tomorrow night. So, imagine, if you will, our group, trying to discuss the nature of writing, being a writer and what it is to be a hero accompanied by a bass player, a drummer and a lead singer, who could, actually, sing. I was torn between wanting to be with our group and wanting to go to the other side of the room and dance. The guy could sing. The band could play. I am always amazed at the amount of talent we’ve got locked away. Alas, I stayed with our group, but there were moments when I just had to shrug my shoulders at the men and we all had to take a break from conversation and just enjoy the music.


One of our group members gets out April 6th. I’ll miss him. The next group will be his last. I have work of his that he has given me permission to post here. I need to do that soon. He’s young and resilient and I still worry about what it will actually be like for him once we walks out those prison gates. I have not had to think too much about this fact of working on the inside yet – having to say goodbye.


Tonight Gloria asked the group what they thought it meant to be a writer. I feel like it’s a question to whihch even I need to give more thought.


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