Poems from Inside: A Creative Writing and Publishing Program at ACF April 2012

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund
Recipient Type
Start Date
April 2012
End Date
April 2012
Activity Type
Counties Affected
Project Overview
Over four months, from January to April 2012, residents incarcerated at the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility will have the opportunity to discover how to express their emotions about both positive and negative life experiences as well as explore their personal and cultural heritage through creative writing. In January, Jimmy Santiago Baca will discuss his memoir A Place to Stand and how writing helped him make positive changes during his incarceration as well as his path to becoming an award-winning and nationally recognized author. Mr. Baca’s program will be very similar to the Michele Norris program offered at the facility in October 2011 and participating residents will receive a copy of his book A Place to Stand. In February, author Alexs Pate (tentative) will celebrate Black History Month and discuss the poetry of rap from his book In the Heart of the Beat. In March, two authors from Coffee House Press, will visit sections of the facility and share their work and thoughts on writing. As these different author visits occur, poet and prison educator Steve Healey will provide three 60 to 90 minute writing workshops during January through March. During each of these programs, the visiting authors will share their knowledge about poetry, publishing and how the residents can strengthen their writing skills. The workshops will also serve as an opportunity to promote literacy and learning opportunities through library resources and programs. In addition to coordinating and attending each of the authors’ visits, staff will develop a series of supplemental informational handouts to promote writing resources that are available from the library and in the community. Lastly, staff will solicit submissions, edit and design a small poetry book to be published from the writing of the program participants, and to celebrate the publication of the book, staff will also host a poetry reading for the program participants to do share their writing with their fellow residents in April (National Poetry Month).
Project Details
Legal Citation / Subdivision
Laws of Minnesota for 2011 Chapter 6, Article 4, Subdivision 5
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Other Funds Leveraged
Direct expenses
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Residents will learn about different forms of poetry and be exposed to new writers from a variety of multicultural backgrounds. Reading A Place to Stand and hearing Mr. Baca share his story will reinforce the idea that positive change during and after incarceration is possible. Results measured by program evaluations after each workshop to determine what residents learned about writing.

Residents will have an opportunity to write, revise and publish a poem. At least one poem published by each participant in the poetry book depending on the number of submissions.
Residents will learn about community and library resources and programs to help with their writing.
Residents will receive a copy of the poetry book with their poem. Based on previously similar programs, becoming a published author has had a very positive effect on residents’ self-esteem and sense of pride/accomplishment. Results measured by a follow-up evaluation after participants receive their copy of the book.
Reduce social distance by creating an opportunity for community members to learn more about the residents and perhaps what led to their incarceration. For example, HCL Outreach received the following comments in a letter from a library customer who had read several previously published poetry books with work by ACF residents:
“In reading the poetry in these three books, I was struck by the level of pain that these writers have experienced in their lives. They seem to have had hardships dealing with poverty, abuse, chemical dependency and mental health issues. Yet there is often a thread of hope and survivorship present in their poetry. Developing a spirit of hope seems necessary for change and for a successful transformation to the outside world.”“…Creating poetry may allow a writer to reflect upon or express some things which cannot yet be spoken. Sharing what has been written can be a step toward self-awareness, forgiveness, healing, and change. The affirmation and dignity that comes when one feels that they have been given a voice and have been heard or understood is important to us all.”
- Ann K., HCL customer

Measurable Outcome(s)

These outcomes are for programs held in January-March:
Attendees of Bao Phi's workshop were surveyed:
50% said the program made them think about poetry in a new way.
80% said the program inspired them to think about their lives.
60% said that the program inspired them to w
65% said they learned about an author and wriSelected comment, "From his words, I view the world differently."
Attendees at Sarah Fox's workshop were surveyed:
77% said the program made them think about poetry in a new way.
54% said the program inspired them to think about their lives.
31% said that the program inspired them to write.
62% said they learned about an author and writing.
Attendees of Steve Healey's workshops were surveyed:
94% said they workshops were excellent/good.
84% said they would use what they learned.
Selected comment, "It was refreshing to be able to participate in an activity and not just get lectured to."

Source of Additional Funds

Coffee House Press

Project Manager
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Last Name
Organization Name
Street Address
1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 314
Saint Paul
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Administered By
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1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113-4266