Narrowing the Distance: Nurturing the Talent of Prison Writers, with Joe Watson

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 - 6:00pm to Tuesday, March 20, 2018 - 8:00pm

Class Meetings: Tuesdays, 1/30, 2/6, 2/20, 2/27, 3/13, 3/20, from 6:00-8:00PM, in the Poetry Center Alumni Room 205. ***SOLD OUT***

“Prison always has been a good place for writers,” Dan Simmons wrote in his 1989 novel, Hyperion, “killing, as it does, the twin demons of mobility and diversion.”
It’s true that many writers are born in prison, where minds are free to explore possibilities that the body cannot. But because most are incarcerated within facilities so rural and out-of-reach, the extreme isolation that prisoners endure paralyzes the drive and confidence needed to be creative. This class aims to narrow that distance, and to nurture artistic minds through mentorship. This six-week class, taught over three months by Joe Watson—an independent journalist, researcher, and former Arizona Department of Corrections prisoner—will inform and educate class participants on life in Arizona’s jails and prisons; explore creative nonfiction and poetry related to issues of mass incarceration; and coach students on how to engage with and mentor incarcerated writers through correspondence.
Participants in this class should expect to read deeply (longform and shorter works by Richard Shelton, Edward Bunker, Reginald Dwayne Betts, and others), write responsively, and, by the third or fourth class meeting, begin a sustained and ongoing correspondence with an incarcerated artist. This class is for creative writers who are eager to extend their practice of a writing life to include mentorship and connection with incarcerated writers.