The event was to raise funds to ship books to prisoners. What I saw happening throughout the day was a development of compassion for the inmates -- not excusing the things they've done, but an empathy and understanding of the poverty and life circumstances that contributed. So may broken people.
Books, as any booklover can imagine, are a haven for prisoners -- an escape and a comfort and something to feed the imagination when life is confined to a dark cell. Rene writes beautifully of it in her book:
"Sometimes when reading a book,
I would think of the other people who might have touched it before it was donated. A nice woman who lay down with her baby for a nap might have held the book I was reading. I could see her, lying in a sundress on faded rose-printed cotton sheets, the book splashed open in the sunlight. A little of that sun could have soaked into the pages I was touching.
After a time, it seemed that the world
inside the books became my world. So
when I thought of my childhood, it was
dandelion wine and ice cream on a
summer porch, like Ray Bradbury, and
catching catfish with Huck Finn. My
own memories receded and the book
memories became the real memories,
far more than the outside, far more even
than in here."
Here are some pictures from the event:
|The poetry panel: Georgia Ann Banks-Martin, Jerri Beck, me, Doris Davenport|
Big thanks to Mary Ann Robbins for including me -- and for all the work she does so tirelessly and with enthusiasm.