Teaching Poetry in Prison

  • I recently taught a poetry class as part of the Adult Continuing Education (ACE) Program here at Butner-Low.


    My students came from all walks of life, but shared one thing in common: A desire to express themselves. And express themselves they did. Using copies out of poetry books and their own ingenuity, they wrote poems about love, loss, remorse, and the gamut of emotions that make up the human experience. Along the way, they developed empathy for one another. Self-reflection and empathy can only help lower the recidivism rate, and these men should be applauded for their efforts toward rehabilitation.


    Apparently my class made an impact: several staff members told me about how inmates told them how much they enjoyed it.


    By helping others better express themselves, I gained a new level of self-confidence and purpose. My students called me “Professor,” and still seek me out for advice. Next, I plan on teaching a class on memoir.


    I’m proud to be among the ACE instructors here at Butner-Low, who volunteer their time and skills, helping their fellow inmates improve themselves.


    When discussing prison reform and funding, lawmakers should keep programs like this in mind.