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The Start of a New Prison Book Club

Book clubs are places of gathering and welcoming; analyzing and discussing; writing and dreaming. Attendees read new things, meet new people, and tackle new ideas. These clubs are iconic and mobile, and they can happen anywhere.

Even behind bars.

From Two to Three

In prisons, book club members can share literary conversations and deepen their critical thinking skills, all while participating in the pleasure of reading a good book.

This September, APBP launched a new book club at a federal prison in West Virginia. Thirteen men and three volunteers participated in the first meeting, and we expect that fifteen men will join us next time.

An Encouraging First Meeting

During the first book club meeting, the attendees—artists, writers, and thinkers—created discussion guidelines, suggested books for future meetings, and analyzed poetry.

We brought copies of two poems: Lucille Clifton’s “the light that came to lucille clifton” and Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” One man thought about the poems together: While Hughes wrote about feeling connected across time and place, at one with ancient waters, Clifton focused on fear, not-knowing, and loss while also sensing a message from the nondead past. His insights led to a beautiful conversation.

Upcoming: Book Discussions (and More)

During the next book club meeting, participants will discuss Anthony Ray Hinton’s The Sun Does Shine. Thanks to Macmillan Press for donating twenty free copies.

It’s going to be another incredible book club group.

Support the Appalachian Prison Book Project

At APBP, we rely on donations and volunteers to provide books and educational opportunities to people on the inside. Get involved today to help us continue challenging mass incarceration.

Written by Lydia Welker

Lydia is a writer and editor based in the Midwest.

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