Creative Arts and Healing
Dear friends and newcomers to this site

I am happy to announce the arrival of my long-awaited book PRISON WISDOM, just published and waiting for readers to dive in to its poignant, heart-felt, creative, inspiring words and art!

I was 47 years old when I entered the local jail to offer Lifestories and Haiku Poetry for the first time. At the end of that semester, i collected the favorite writings and art of my inmate students to put into an anthology that they called Hey You! I later taught at Tallahassee's Federal Correctional Institution, when it was a men's prison, and they called their collection of writings Out of Sight and Mind. When I was an artist in residence at a women's prison in Monticello, FL, those students called their anthology Beauty behind Walls. And finally, when FCI became a women's prison, in 2010 I created, with my students, a number of anthologies, through 2015. The name for their anthology was Imaginations Uncovered. Excerpts from all of these anthologies are included, unedited, exactly as the inmates penned them, all written from prompts, or "seed phrases" that I use to evoke writing. I.E. I remember a room, A lonely time, A magic moment, When I look in the mirror I see.... We also write poetry together (I always write with my students) explore guided visualizations, fantasy, and a variety of fictions, for example "It was the night of the full moon..." or "I enter the scene..." (looking at a calendar picture), or "I find myself in a room I've never been before..."

As I state on the back cover blurb, "I believe that every person has a creative spark within them, and I hope to evoke 'the wisdom of the pen' in each and every one of my students... As you, the reader, experience...this unique collection, I hope you will be inspired to pick up a pen to tell your own stories..."

The last section of the book, contains the letters and stunning artwork of my prison pen pals, several of them on Death Row. The cover of the book, a sunflower with butterfly,
is one of those artworks. To see this image, please visit the Prison Wisdom page on this website menu.

Now 73, you can do the math and say that this book has been in the making for 25 years! Of course I had no idea when I entered Leon County Jail for the first writing class (in a GED program), that I would be 1)having a prison ministry, or 2)creating a book of Prison writings. I have found, throughout my life, that following my imperatives has led me into adventures I had no idea where they would take me. I'm sure all of you can say the same about various themes that run through your own life.

It is my intention to send my book out to prison libraries, to inspire other incarcerated individuals, but also into public libraries, correctional programs, and to make them available as book club offerings. Each person who orders a book has the opportunity to "gift" a book to a prison library. In this way we all become disseminators of the Prison Wisdom message,
that the humanity hidden away behind bars has beauty and courage to share with us, to inspire us; as we read, we may find ourselves looking into a mirror, saying not "this could be me" but "there I am."

Here are two Haiku from women at FCI, the first asked to write about her hands:

Tiny little hands
soft with strength and capable
to change this lost world

And secondly, if life is a book:

My life is a book
some chapters are sad, but thereís
a plot twist youíll love

I invite you now to visit the Prison Wisdom page, and to spread the word to friends and colleagues who you think might enjoy the book and support the cause.

Meanwhile, as I prepare for local launches, speaking engagements, sermons, etc. I look out the window at my garden and know for sure Spring is here, gliding easily, here in the south, into summer. My life goes on "in endless song," or in my case "in endless flowers and vegetables!" When you plant a seed, something comes up; sometimes it's a poem, sometimes it's a story, sometimes it's a cherry tomato or a cucumber or a gardenia flower.
What a mystery, the fecundity of the earth and of human life. Treasure it now.

I will close with one more quote from the book. The prompt was "I have a Dream."

"I have a dream of pain come to past. I live in a world where there is no controlling, people love freely and hate is not known. Nature is our friend and we respect it. No more storms, just tranquility. We live with an open mind and heart. Innocence is our nature." Chris


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