When I walked through the doors of Travis County Correctional Complex the first time, I was nervous about security, about the guards, about the students. I walked in with sweaty palms and a book of poetry. The women in my class wore black and white block striped scrubs and rubber sandals or crocs. We worked through the poems, we wrote about Edgar Allen Poe and Annabel Lee, we tried to make sense of Wordsworth. And then we read Maya Angelou, Derrick Brown, Eileen Myles, and slowly but sure, shared our own work. The epithets of poetry I've found in the walls of TCCC are nothing what you are led to believe. The women who populate the buildings are ready to laugh and ready to cry. Creative writing topics vary from the high school commencement addresses we wish we could've given to love letters to deceased spouses and odes about Cream of Wheat. Nothing creative is off-limits in this place where everything requires permission, detention, and legality.
Freehand Arts Project is a group of volunteers dedicated to bringing the creative arts to individuals incarcerated. Our kickstarter aims to raise money to publish our anthology of student work from fall of 2015 and all of 2016 of students at Travis County Correctional Complex. Student poetry, reflective pieces, and artwork will make up the anthology, which will serve as a tangible artifact of the hard work, time, and thought students have put in over the past year. But this anthology will also serve as an artifact for everyone in our community outside of Travis County Correctional Complex's walls to better understand, and ultimately learn about, prison life.
These anthologies are something for the women at TCCC to hold in their hands, to see something they themselves have created, and these books are something for the rest of us to be reminded of what we can so easily forget.
Your donation, no matter how large or small, makes a difference in the pages of these anthologies. I know the wonder that I experience every time we finish class is something that can be shared with the rest of us in a time when we all need to remember the forgotten and help each other. Now more than ever we can listen to those who are pushed to the margins of society. I know that what we hear can change the way we think for the best.
From the students at Travis County Correctional Complex and the volunteers at Freehand Arts Project, thank you.
Risks and challenges
The major challenges for this project involve timing. We want to get this book out before the end of the year, but that deadline is fast-approaching and will require printing, binding, and sharing the book during the holiday season. As an organization, we will address this challenge with complete transparency in case of any delay of distributing the anthologies.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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