Voices That Are Always with Us

Poetry and Conversation

Catonsville Presbyterian Church- France Room

1400 Frederick Rd.

Friday, September 20th, 7PM

Altar of Innocence cover artFinal Deployment

 

            Memories are full of many images, and none are more powerful than the voices of those people in our lives whom we’ve loved and who have challenged us. Ann Bracken and Ann Quinn will read from their collections of poetry dealing with memories whose power has shaped them and influenced their writing journeys. Come for an inspiring evening of poetry and conversation with two local authors.

Ann Bracken, an activist with a pen, who grew up in Catonsville, has authored two poetry collections, No Barking in the Hallways: Poems from the Classroomand The Altar of Innocence, serves as a contributing editor for Little Patuxent Review, and co-facilitates the Wilde Readings Poetry Series.  Her poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in anthologies and journals, including Bared: Contemporary Poetry & Art on Bras & Breasts, Fledgling Rag, and Gargoyle. Ann’s poetry has garnered two Pushcart Prize nominations and   her advocacy work centers around arts-based interventions for mental health and prison reform.  Website: www.annbrackenauthor.com

Church member Ann Quinn, who has led a bi-monthly Writer’s Group at CPC for the past five years, is a poet and essayist, editor, teacher, mentor, mother, and classical clarinetist. In her  poetry collection, Final Deployment,published by Finishing Line Press, the child of a Vietnam War naval aviator matures into motherhood and experiences the death of her own mother. These poems remind us of what nature teaches about death’s necessity and its potential for transfiguration. Ann’s award-winning work has been published in Potomac Review, Little Patuxent Review, Vietnam War Poetry, Haibun TodayandSnapdragon, and is included in the anthology Red Sky: Poetry on the Global Epidemic of Violence Against Women. She conducts writing workshops and music camps, volunteers in schools and libraries, and plays in a symphony orchestra.  Ann holds an M.F.A. in poetry from Pacific Lutheran University and lives in Catonsville, Maryland with her family. Visit her at www.annquinn.net

Join us for this inspiring evening of creative listening and conversation. The authors will have copies of their books for sale, and refreshments will be served.

You Can Bring Books into a Prison, Right?

The literacy needs of men and women in prison are great, so you’d think that reading would be encouraged. Think again….and it’s not just in Texas.

Want to learn more about the importance of reading and its relationship to preventing recidivism?  Check out Begin to Read: Literacy Statistics.

And consider this statement from an article on prisoner’s illiteracy in SF Gate from a UMD professor:  “There is not a lot of causal evidence that specifically says people with educational skills won’t commit crimes, but there is definitely a strong correlation between educational ability and staying out of prison,” said Peter Leone, a correctional education expert at the University of Maryland.

Texas Prisons Have Banned ‘Where’s Waldo’ And ‘Charlie Brown’ But Not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’

 12.07.17

UPROXX

Where’s WaldoA Charlie Brown ChristmasThe MapQuest Road Atlas.

On the face of things, these books don’t seem to have very much in common, save for, perhaps, their innocuous content. But there’s something much more serious linking them: They’re just some of the 11,850 books banned in Texas prisons by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), according to the Texas Tribune.

In 2011, the Texas Civil Rights Project put together a comprehensive,searchable list of all the books and reading material banned across the state prison system and argued that the TDCJ’s extreme censorship is violating the Constitution.

But according to the TDCJ, the ban ensures publications don’t “incite tensions.” Per spokeswoman Michelle Lyons, “It’s not a matter of picking books we like and don’t like. It’s a matter of maintaining a safe environment.”

And six years later, you’ll still find Charlie Brown on the no-no list. Because nothing is more dangerous than a group of kids picking the smallest, meanest looking Christmas tree and giving it all their love.

According to the New York Times, censoring reading material is still considered a “matter of safety” for the almost 150,000 inmates across 50 state prisons: “The reviews are conducted not by guards but rather by mailroom staff members who skim the pages looking for graphic sexual content and material that could help inmates make a weapon, plot an escape or stir disorder.”

But the ban is inconsistent at best: books like Mein Kampf, Che Guevara’s Guerrilla Warfare — which instructs readers on how to make their own mortars — and even books by white nationalists, like the KKK’s David Duke are all permitted. But a book of Shakespeare’s Love Poems & Sonnets is off limits because of a nude portrait. At least one book by humorist Carl Hiaasen is banned, because, according to the TDCJ, it “contains information about manufacturing explosives.” Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho is allowed. While The Color Purple is banned for incest, Lolita, which depicts pedophilia, is fair game. Freakonomics is banned specifically for their chapter on race.

The inconsistent nature of what books are banned is not only arbitrary — it also hurts the inmates. Per the Times, inmates struggle to read or suffer from illiteracy at far higher rates than the general population, and reading increases their chances of assimilating back into society once released.

Study after study shows that reading can change inmates’ lives for the better. Reading in general has immense benefits, including improving emotional skills and mental wellness, reducing stress, and strengthening analytical skills. Take Where’s Waldo, for instance. It has been shown to help develop cognitive processes in the brain. It can also fine-tune emotional processing. Maybe more Waldo is just what the inmates need.