On August 12, 2018, 40 incoming WVU students wrapped 303 books at an APBP’s service-learning event. Many thanks to the WVU Center for Service and Learning for organizing this fantastic event and to Valerie Surrett for leading the APBP effort@
We are busy as ever this summer!
APBP has been awarded honorable mention in the 2018 National Book Foundation Innovations in Reading Prize!! Check out the cool company we are in and our new logo created (just in time!) by an incarcerated artist and member of the Men’s Prison Book Club. APBP has received $1,000 to support our educational work!
National Book Foundation
As the semester draws to a close, I wanted to share some of the many lessons I’ve learned during my time at APBP:
- One book can change the course of a person’s life. Letter after letter describes the impact of books. Books are solace. Books are freedom to explore beyond the incarcerated space. Books bring joy and knowledge. Books make time move a little faster.
- Book donations can reveal a lot about a person’s life. As I unpacked boxes of donations, I often felt like I was looking at timelines of people’s lives. These books are when they studied for the LSAT; these are when they were about to become a parent; these are the countless hours spent awake, escaping into fantastical worlds.
- I often wondered what a donation of my life of books would look like. I can picture the volunteer cracking open one box with Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Dwayne Bett’s A Question of Freedom, Douglas Blackmon’s Slavery by Another Name, Assata Shakur’s and Malcolm X’s autobiographies. These books are when she discovered the histories hidden behind the ones she’d previously known.
- The little things matter. One wrong number, a stain on a page, a staple, a smudged name, or a torn corner can prevent the book from ever finding its home.
- People disappear too easily.
- The barriers between books and incarcerated people grow each day. Publisher only. Vendor Only. Only white envelopes only. (Yes, they used two “only”s.)
- When the barriers seem to multiply and frustrations mount, organizing bookshelves can help.
- People’s names matter. So many incarcerated people write of loneliness, of not having family or correspondence. They express gratitude for our use of their names, as we scribble little notes in the margins of our form letter.
- APBP is made up of amazing people: high school students, university students, and community members, people who want to be lawyers, people who were lawyers, people who remind us to breathe, people who want to enact social change, people who want to bring education into incarcerated spaces, people who have an eye for the details, people who dream big, people whose children, friends, and family have been incarcerated.
- Incarcerated letter writers are eager to learn how to defend themselves legally, how to create with their hands, how to build a sustainable life after, how to read, how to speak another language, and how to understand the people around them.
- In the people, there is hope.
Thank you APBP for continuing to teach me.
Maggie Montague, APBP Intern, Spring 2018
A class of Morgantown High students chose APBP as their service-learning site for spring 2018–and we are so glad! After learning about the educational mission of APBP, they spent last Wednesday at the Aull Center responding to letters. Many thanks to Mr. Colistra and Ms. Mays for creating this beautiful opportunity.
WVU Junior Emma Harrison has been named a Truman Scholar! Emma was a student in Katy Ryan’s WVU Inside-Out class (Justice and Literature) in the fall of 2017. She is dedicated to higher education in prison and will be doing an internship with APBP during the 2018-2019 year. This is an incredible honor and so well-deserved. Read all about it here!
Elissa Momen guiding APBP members through a breathing meditation to begin an all-day working session.
From 9:00 – 4:00 on April 7, 2018, volunteers, interns, and board members worked on the future of APBP. We have lots of new ideas and plans to strengthen our educational justice work.