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Poetry in the Prisons

Ellen Bass

The North Carolina Writers’ Network facilitates the Prison Writers Outreach program, which pairs incarcerated writers with volunteers who work together on exploring the possibilities offered by creative writing: memoir, short or long fiction, poetry, plays, and more.

There’s a tremendous amount of intererst in this program, and there’s a wait-list for incarcerated writers waiting for someone to correspond with. So if you’re interested in serving as a volunteer, check out the full guidelines here.

Poet Ellen Bass recently announced through social media that Copper Canyon Press, an indie publisher of poetry based in Washington state, will send books to prison poetry programs across the nation.

If you know of or are part of a program that might benefit, click here to submit a request form.

Copper Canyon Press published Sight Lines by Arthur Sze, winner of the 2019 National Book Award, as well as many renowned poets such as John Balaban, Jericho Brown, and C.D. Wright.

Ellen Bass’ forthcoming book, Indigo, will be published in early 2020 by Copper Canyon Press. Her other poetry books include Like a Beggar, The Human Line, and Mules of Love. Her poems appear frequently in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and many other journals.