The inmates' poems have been collected in a published collection called “Poems from the Inside.”
Ninety-five inmates signed up for the workshops led by creative writing instructor Steve Healey, according to a news release from the Hennepin County Library system.
"Each workshop included an exercise designed to help the participants write poetry, such as using narrative or storytelling to write a poem, or repetition to emphasize ideas or images, or writing a poem to a specific person," according to the news release.
Healey said, “Many of the men and women I’ve encountered in these facilities have never had access to the basic tools of self-expression and communication that many of us on the outside take for granted. As they begin to claim a new voice and self-awareness in their writing and speaking, they can begin to see a new world of positive behaviors and healthy choices available to them.”
Past creative writing workshops at the ACF produced four collections of poetry: “Creative Minds: Our Right to Write” (2007), “Words From Within” (2008), “Set Me Free” (2009) and “free to dream” (2010).
These volumes are available at the Hennepin County Library.
In addition to the creative writing workshops, library staff visits the ACF weekly to help residents use the facility’s library and answer requests for information. Staff members also help the inmates with reading and writing skills.