Creative Writings

Holding onto Sand 
     Holding onto Sand contains writing by men in one of APBP’s prison book clubs. For two years, beginning in June of 2016, Yvonne Hammond, Alex Kessler, Elissa Momen, and Valerie Surrett facilitated this reading and writing group that met inside a men’s medium security prison.
     The men in our group are dedicated readers and powerful thinkers, and together we moved through an impressive list of literature. We also dedicated time to writing workshops and worked one on one with writers in our group. From day one, one of our group’s goals was to create a collection that would showcase the talent of our individual members while also documenting our time together as a group.
     We are immensely proud of this collection, and we are honored to have experienced the always wise, often poignant, and refreshingly funny words of our dear friends.


Women of Wisdom

Initiated by WVU English professors Katy Ryan, Cari Carpenter, and Elizabeth Juckett, the women’s prison book club began in October 2014 and continues to meet every other week. In December 2017, the women created their first collection of original writing and artwork. This collection showcases their extraordinary vision, intelligence, and determination. Many thanks to WVU graduate students Katie Vogelpohl and Beth Staley for editing the collection. Women of Wisdom Collection 2018

In Fall 2017, Dr. Katy Ryan taught a 200-level literature class to 15 incarcerated students and 15 West Virginia University undergraduates. The class took place inside prison as part of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. At the end of the semester, the students began work on a creative writing magazine. Here are the first two issues.

Conversations through the Fence Issue 1

Conversations Through the Fence Issue 2

Select Titles from the Women’s Book Club

Octavia Butler, Kindred

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Julia Alverez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent  and In the Time of the Butterflies

Alex Kotlowitz, There Are No Children Here

Ernest Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize Speech

Mark Brazaitis, Julia & Rodrigo, An American Affair, Steal My Heart

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed

James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues” and “Letter to my Nephew”

John Lennon’s Essay on Higher Education in Prison in the NYT

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

Edwidge Danticat, Farming of the Bones 

Fred Chappelle, I am One of You Forever

Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman

Ntozake Shange, for colored girls