Brothers in Pen Ninth Annual Reading, 11-15-14

BIP class photo 11-15-14

The Brothers in Pen Annual Reading took place on November 15. I thought I would wait to post until I had Peter Merts’ beautiful photos of the event. However, those photos were not cleared for publication till this week–hence the delayed post. Otherwise I’m sure I would have been extremely timely.

We had a record turnout, sixty-some people, squeezed into the ARC building on the lower yard. I like having the event on the lower yard rather than the chapel, as visitors get to take a little walk through the prison grounds and get a bit more of a sense of the place. A number of guys on the yard who were walking, exercising, or just enjoying the beautiful weather greeted our large group as we made our way across the yard.

BIP visitors walking 11-15-14

This time, unfortunately, we had no media there to record readings, so I can’t share any audio excerpts. Trust me when I tell you that readings were shared with passion, intensity, and humor. A portrait of Jeff Little (a former class member we’d recently learned had passed away since his parole from prison) presided over the event from behind the podium with a wise smile.

Wayne reading BIP 11-15-14

I opened the day with a quote from the foreword Tobias Wolff wrote for one of our anthologies:  “We are story-telling animals… It’s how we organize the past, and try to make sense of it—to see the patterns our actions and inactions create, to see how those patterns break or repeat themselves. Stories are the embodiment of those patterns, and in them—even in the stories of others—we can begin to recognize ourselves.” This self-recognition was popping all over the room as the many guests nodded, sighed, and made soft sounds of acknowledgment throughout the afternoon.

BIP reading 11-15-14

Human beings recognizing and appreciating the humanness of other human beings. It’s a good way to spend a day.

Here are links to Peter Merts’ photos:


About Brothers In Pen

Brothers in Pen is the collective name of the Wednesday Night Creative Writing Class at San Quentin State Prison facilitated by Zoe Mullery.
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