“These are difficult times, scary times in the world. I have had a number of conversations in the last few days with friends who are feeling that the future feels murky and unsettled. There’s nothing like coming inside prison to help put things in perspective. It may seem a strange place to look for hope in troubled times, but I consistently find resilience, humor, perseverance, and wisdom in the context of this class that sustains me.”
– Zoe Mullery, Creative Writing Instructor, Brothers in Pen – San Quentin State Prison
On Saturday, November 12, 2016, members of the San Quentin Wednesday Night Creative Writing Class presented the stories they have been writing to fellow inmates and guests inside the prison’s education center. The event, the Eleventh Annual Public Reading, was sponsored by the William James Association’s Prison Arts Project. And so, down on the “yard” inside a double-wide modular bungalow, inmates stood before an audience of free and incarcerated to share their creative fiction, spoken word, and poetry.
Listen to Live Law San Quentin: HOPE
Kenneth Brydon (Kenny), storyteller and host of Live Law San Quentin: HOPE, has been a part of Brothers in Pen for 12 years. He has received several awards from PEN America in the national prison writing contest and has been published in an Anthology of Prison stories (“Prison Noir”), a book of stories selected and edited by Joyce Carol Oates.
A. Kevin Valvardi is an artist and poet who has written poetry since age nine. As a member of San Quentin’s Journalism Guild, he has written for San Quentin News. His poetry and stories have appeared in Iron City Magazine, 580 Split, Brothers in Pen anthologies, and a number of formal and informal San Quentin anthologies and chap booklets. He plans to one day, write a story about his life prior to his crimes and incarceration.
Joseph Krauter Mr. Curio would like to apologize for his stunt double, Mr. Joseph Krauter, and his lack of oratorical skills in regards to the reading of this piece. There is just something about Mr. Krauter’s accomplishments as a published novice writer 580 Split and water colorist painter that Rafael finds interesting about the newly diagnosed Autistic man, how Mr. Krauter refuses to let his condition handicap him as much as he can. Regretfully Mr. Verde couldn’t be here either but supports Mr. Krauter’s attempt as strongly as his co-author.
Wayne Boatright is a fifth generation Californian and an inmate serving 92 months for gross negligent vehicular manslaughter. “To create in any form takes courage. I have found mine through the chrysalis of prison.”
Thedo Noble Butler is an urban author, poet, musician, artist, philosopher and activist from Los Angeles. “Having once been a menace to my society, contributing to the criminal elements that have caused so many so much hurt and heartache, I now dedicate my life to the unending search for justice, mercy, fairness and equality, as well as giving voice to the ones that most need to be heard. We are all complicated beings, with no single attribute sufficient to adequately describe or define the true essence of who each of us are.”
Julian Glenn Padgett, a.k.a. Luke, writes with a charged passion that pulls at your imagination. The “Penal Code Crimes” is the book he is currently working on. It’s a legal thriller, set in the great state of Texas. Intrigue, drama, murder, loss and love are the themes, which push and pull his characters along
Michael “Yahya” Cooke has been a participant and student of the creative writing class inside San Quentin for over five years. In this time, he has finished his memoir Malefactor as well as a young adult novel, Brother Rocker, four urban noir screenplays and several short stories. In 2015 he was a PEN America winner.
Special thanks to the following individuals and organizations for making the event possible, and for inviting Life of the Law to co-produce and publish the stories shared:
The William James Association and its Executive Director Laurie Brooks; San Quentin State Prison Community Partnership Manager Steve Emrick and San Quentin’s Public Information Officer Lt. Sam Robinson, as well as Warden Ronald Davis. Thanks also to Carol Newborg, Prison Arts Project Program Manager. Special thanks also goes out to Juan Haines, Senior Editor of the San Quentin News for his help producing this event and episode with Life of the Law.
For more info on the Prison Arts Project, or to contribute to the work of the William James Association, go to WilliamJamesAssociation.org.
Live Law San Quentin: Hope is a co-production of Life of the Law and San Quentin’s Creative Writing Program, Brothers In Pen. James Rowlands produced the live recording. Tony Gannon, Life of the Law’s Senior Producer designed and produced the episode. Our Post Production Editors are Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain. Katie McMurran and Howard Gellman were our in-studio engineers.
Music was composed and performed by David Jassy and the San Quentin Prison Report.
This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.
Live Law San Quentin: Hope was sponsored by HSBC.
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