Testimony and Transformation

The weekend of October 12-13, the Goldin Institute partnered with the Voices & Faces Project and Brothers Standing Together, an organization founded by GATHER alumnus Raymond Richard, to lead “Testimony & Transformation: A Writing Workshop for Returning Citizens.”

Hosted at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in the Chicago Defender building on the city’s South Side, half a dozen formerly incarcerated men from throughout Chicago as well as Milwaukee, Wis., came together over two days to explore their respective journeys through the justice system with its consequential legacies.

The workshop included writing exercises in multiple genres, including essay, spoken word poetry, personal letter, and short story. Readings by Paul Laurence Dunbar, Huey P. Newton, Nelson Mandela, and Angela Y. Davis informed provocative conversations. Al, a local spoken word artist, visited as well.

Co-facllitated by the Goldin Institute’s Jimmie Briggs with R. Clifton Spargo, an author and creative writing instructor who has taught at both Yale University and the renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the program is supported by funding from the Illinois Humanities Council.

The effort is the first of a series of organizational collaborations to support alternative narratives about mass incarceration, policing and restorative justice through the written words of those directly impacted by inter-generational trauma, poverty, and under-employment. The next workshop will be a one-day training at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, 67 E. Madison St., suite 2000, in Chicago’s Loop on January 11, 2020.

A public reading and performance by workshop participants from both the October 2019 and January 2020 sessions will be mounted in Chicago in February 2020.

Details and application materials are forthcoming, but interested organizations and individuals should check the Voices & Faces Project website in early January 2020: www.voicesandfaces.org.

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