Friday, June 20, 2008

 

Announcing The Deep Music: A Collaboration Between Poet Sarah Browning and Children of Incarcerated Fathers

I am excited to announce the launch of The Deep Music, a project of poetry and discussion about the prison crisis in the District of Columbia and the country as a whole. This project is made possible in part with a grant from the Creative Communities Initiative of the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region.

The United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate, imprisoning over two million of its citizens. Washington, DC’s incarceration rate is four times the national average. These two million men and women are largely invisible: we do not know their stories, we have not heard their voices. The impact of incarceration on families is another untold story. As a society, how can we evaluate the effectiveness of a policy, if we do not know its impact?

Poetry has the power to humanize social policy, to give voice to those made voiceless by our society’s decision to lock up so many of its citizens. The Deep Music will tell these human stories, through poems written by incarcerated men, their children, and myself.

In May and June of this year I am meeting for four Saturday mornings with young people involved with Hope House DC, a remarkable organization that serves incarcerated DC fathers and their families. Together we are writing poetry.

The Institute for Policy Studies is also a collaborator with us on the project, providing a place to meet and working space for me. They'll be hosting our public reading and exhibiting the young people's poetry. The oldest multi-issue progressive think tank in the country, IPS turns Ideas into Action for Peace, Justice and the Environment. I am very grateful for their support.

In the workshop the young writers write about everything young people are concerned with: their neighborhoods, their families, boyfriends and girlfriends, dreams, the future. Growing up in low-income communities, they also write about gangs and shootings and fear. In the coming weeks we'll be posting some of their poems and I'll be posting drafts of my own new work.

Please visit the project's blog The Deep Music DC at http://thedeepmusicdc.blogspot.com/ to read poems and post your comments.

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