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Haiku Excerpts from Prison Wisdom
When I think of love
I look at the twinkling stars
saying I’m still here

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

My life is a book
some chapters are sad, but there’s
a plot twist you’ll love


Prison Wisdom

This book invites you behind the barbwire into the lives, stories and poems of 115 inmates. From 1991 to 2015 I entered the gates of four Florida prisons, offering creative writing to those behind bars, and created 12 anthologies which compiled their favorite writings from our sessions together. These anthologies have been excerpted in Prison Wisdom to showcase the beauty and diversity of the humanity hidden behind walls. The book also includes the correspondence and artwork of prison pen pals I have been writing to for many years.


Prison Wisdom reveals the methodology of how I evoke writing from my students, and the prompts and exercises are outlined so that anyone wishing to teach writing, in the prisons or elsewhere, has a template for doing so. As I explain on the back cover blurb: “I believe 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 the poignant and heartfelt writing in this unique collection, I hope you will be inspired to pick up a pen to tell your own stories.”


Prison is a world of steel bars, barbed wire, brick walls and locked doors. Once a week we are invited to open our minds and feel free to express ourselves… If only for a few hours a week, at least in our minds, we are free.


What did I get out of this class?  Expression, heart-felt, peace, liberty, the ability to exhale.  Openness. Freedom of speaking from the heart.  I was able to be free on the inside!


Thanks to all my students for sharing their stories and listening to mine.  We all grow, becoming transformed by each other’s openness and creativity.  What an inspiration and two-way mirror.



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When ordering a copy of Prison Wisdom, please consider helping our outreach by gifting a 2nd book that we will donate to a Prison Library or organization that works with inmates. Your help in spreading the inspirational message of this book is greatly appreciated.