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WGBH Forum Network; Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing

04/19/2007

Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing H. Bruce Franklin, professor, Rutgers University Jennifer Gonnerman, writer Jean Trounstine, writer Dwayne Betts, writer, founder, YoungMenRead Piri Thomas, writer, former prison inmate PEN New England's Freedom-to-Write (FTW) Committee, and the Cambridge Forum, host Writing on the Walls, a panel discussion about writing in, from, and about American prisons. The panel is moderated by Dr. H. Bruce Franklin, Rutgers University professor and author of Prison Writings in 20th Century America, and features Jennifer Gonnerman, former Village Voice reporter, and author of the National Book Award finalist Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett; Jean Trounstine, author of Shakespeare Behind Bars: The Power of Drama in a Women's Prison, documenting her ten years of work at Framingham Women's Prison teaching literature and writing; and Dwayne Betts, former inmate of eight years and gifted poet, and founder of the YoungMenRead book club at the Washington, DC, bookstore he managed. The subject of a recent feature article in the Washington Post, he's now a Writer in Residence at the DC Creative Writing Workshops and a Cave Canem fellow. Writing on the Walls is being held in conjunction with the presentation of PEN New England's annual Vasyl Stus Freedom-to-Write Award and the Thomas Paine Freedom-to-Write Award for American Writers. The 2007 Paine Award will be presented to Piri Thomas, author of the seminal 1967 memoir Down These Mean Streets chronicling 'his downward spiral from the barrio to Sing Sing [as well as] his redemption . . . through suffering, endurance, and desire for understanding.' PEN New England is one of five regional branches of PEN American Center, which in turn is part of International PEN, the only worldwide organization of writing professionals, and the world's first human rights organization. PEN's mission is to promote literacy and a culture of literature, and to defend free expression everywhere.


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Series
WGBH Forum Network
Program
Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing
Program Number

3456

Series Description

The WGBH Forum Network is an audio and video streaming Website dedicated to curating and serving live and on-demand lectures given by some of the world's foremost scholars, authors, artists, scientists, policy makers and community leaders. These events are hosted by world-class cultural and educational organizations in the Greater Boston area. Through this online service thousands of interested people across the world partake of these lectures from the comfort of their home or office at any time they choose. We are proud of the role we serve in our community, of protecting and projecting the public voice; and of informing and inspiring that public voice to foster deeper understanding of and civic engagement in important issues.

Program Description

WRITING ON THE WALLS: AMERICAN PRISON WRITING H. BRUCE FRANKLIN, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY JENNIFER GONNERMAN, WRITER JEAN TROUNSTINE, WRITER DWAYNE BETTS, WRITER, FOUNDER, YOUNGMENREAD PIRI THOMAS, WRITER, FORMER PRISON INMATE

PEN NEW ENGLAND'S FREEDOM-TO-WRITE (FTW) COMMITTEE, AND THE CAMBRIDGE FORUM, HOST WRITING ON THE WALLS, A PANEL DISCUSSION ABOUT WRITING IN, FROM, AND ABOUT AMERICAN PRISONS. THE PANEL IS MODERATED BY DR. H. BRUCE FRANKLIN, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND AUTHOR OF PRISON WRITINGS IN 20TH CENTURY AMERICA, AND FEATURES JENNIFER GONNERMAN, FORMER VILLAGE VOICE REPORTER, AND AUTHOR OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST LIFE ON THE OUTSIDE: THE PRISON ODYSSEY OF ELAINE BARTLETT; JEAN TROUNSTINE, AUTHOR OF SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS: THE POWER OF DRAMA IN A WOMEN'S PRISON, DOCUMENTING HER TEN YEARS OF WORK AT FRAMINGHAM WOMEN'S PRISON TEACHING LITERATURE AND WRITING; AND DWAYNE BETTS, FORMER INMATE OF EIGHT YEARS AND GIFTED POET, AND FOUNDER OF THE YOUNGMENREAD BOOK CLUB AT THE WASHINGTON, DC, BOOKSTORE HE MANAGED. THE SUBJECT OF A RECENT FEATURE ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST, HE'S NOW A WRITER IN RESIDENCE AT THE DC CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOPS AND A CAVE CANEM FELLOW.

WRITING ON THE WALLS IS BEING HELD IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PRESENTATION OF PEN NEW ENGLAND'S ANNUAL VASYL STUS FREEDOM-TO-WRITE AWARD AND THE THOMAS PAINE FREEDOM-TO-WRITE AWARD FOR AMERICAN WRITERS. THE 2007 PAINE AWARD WILL BE PRESENTED TO PIRI THOMAS, AUTHOR OF THE SEMINAL 1967 MEMOIR DOWN THESE MEAN STREETS CHRONICLING 'HIS DOWNWARD SPIRAL FROM THE BARRIO TO SING SING [AS WELL AS] HIS REDEMPTION . . . THROUGH SUFFERING, ENDURANCE, AND DESIRE FOR UNDERSTANDING.'

PEN NEW ENGLAND IS ONE OF FIVE REGIONAL BRANCHES OF PEN AMERICAN CENTER, WHICH IN TURN IS PART OF INTERNATIONAL PEN, THE ONLY WORLDWIDE ORGANIZATION OF WRITING PROFESSIONALS, AND THE WORLD'S FIRST HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION. PEN'S MISSION IS TO PROMOTE LITERACY AND A CULTURE OF LITERATURE, AND TO DEFEND FREE EXPRESSION EVERYWHERE.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type

Video

Genres
Event Coverage
Citation
Chicago: “WGBH Forum Network; Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing,” 04/19/2007, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 4, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6CCE81D8BB47415886DBB6DF000D013C.
MLA: “WGBH Forum Network; Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing.” 04/19/2007. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 4, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6CCE81D8BB47415886DBB6DF000D013C>.
APA: WGBH Forum Network; Writing on the Walls: American Prison Writing. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_6CCE81D8BB47415886DBB6DF000D013C
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