Because of low accountability, grant funds in academia are sometimes given and projects begun only to sink silently like stones in a still pond. Because this will be my last funded graduate student project, and because I know more now than I knew when I began this long process of obtaining my PhD, I want my work this summer to get out into the world, to be read and seen and heard about and allowed to matter. The responsibility for creating the conditions and the materials for that to happen, first by carrying the project to fruition and then by sending it out into the world through various avenues, rests on my shoulders, and it is one that I willingly accept, particularly knowing all the resources for support that I have. That said, this is what I think I can reasonably accomplish, between now and September:
- Prepare the syllabus for the course
- Decide on materials that will be read in the class and compile readings
- Lead the workshop (2 months, one two-hour session per week) from July-August, 2016
- Blog weekly with updates about readings and student work
- Produce a book with the SEP (Mexican Secretaria de Educación Publica) composed of the best writings from each student. I will need to begin that process early, consulting with the editors before beginning the workshop in order to think about the best way to solicit and collect the materials I need from the students as we go along.
These are ambitious aims but, with a doctoral dissertation (to be filed in 10 days!) almost completed and a number of syllabi written and courses taught, I feel confident that I can accomplish them. What I have going for me is that I am not trying to reinvent the wheel; rather I am joining an already existing prison writing program. What makes it new is that I can communicate about the experience with a North American audience unfamiliar with that system and hopefully bring new insights to educators and policy-makers in the US as we think about creative writing in prison contexts (English and Spanish speaking) north of the border.
All of this said, watch out pond, prepare for a splash.