Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What's Missing?

Da book about the prison writing workshops is coming along. It aint half bad, and it's still waiting to take the next step, the final word on what the workshops mean, to the inmates and to me. The reality of prison terrifies me: deadness, violence, lowest common denominator, brokenness, loss. I question whether or not I can really, honestly make a dent in that. I question my motives, my understanding, my effectiveness, my tendency to deceive myself, to take shortcuts when it comes to easy answers. I don't trust myself to really look at what is happening and make something comprehensible out of it. Can anything I do really make a difference in someone else's life? And can I say with any confidence what that is or how it happened? I have hunches and want to make up tidy little theories about life narratives being re-written, about opening to new possibilities, about the power of literature and creative expression to foster empathy and wider horizons, but is all of that just wishful thinking, just smoke blowing out the ass a hopeful, lost, obscure dude who happens to love and respect the power of language?


  1. Erec -- As I read your post today, I'm reminded of the 2009 film, "The Soloist" (Available now on Amazon video.) I was very moved by this movie for several reasons, but one of the take-aways was the lesson learned by the LA Times reporter trying passionately to help the very talented but emotionally impaired musician he met doing a story on homeless people in LA. He finally learned, after many unsuccessful efforts to help this man move off the street, from the case worker at the man's shelter that the important, helpful, and only effective thing he could do that meant something is to simply show up and be his friend without an agenda to fix him. That's what the homeless man needed and was all he could accept. The people you are helping, I'm guessing, are most impacted because you show up, share your time, talents, and attention in the frame of your teaching, so they have the repeated experience of being seen in their world of usually feeling invisible. By itself, that's a great, impactful gift, seems to me.

  2. Thanks Bill. Wise words. I'll look for the film. Onward, Erec