What makes the weekly writing class the most popular activity offered to Douglas County jail inmates? Why is it consistently the largest class offered at the jail? Why does the program director often have to turn away class members when the room fills quickly? And why do the class facilitators continue to return week after week and year after year?
Many writers will affirm that writing is good therapy. In fact, that is the first reason they give to continue writing. There is something about recording words, thoughts, feelings, fears, and ideas on paper that can be cathartic and healing. People who write search for something. Perhaps they seek meaning in their lives. Perhaps they are looking for a personal identity, for a purpose, or as Sister Helen Prejean said, for “what truly matters.” What does matter? Maybe it is some semblance of control over life circumstances. Maybe it is acceptance, companionship, or bolstering a struggling self-esteem.
Perhaps it is hope, as an entry by Donndilla Da Great in the published collection Douglas County Jail Blues begins.
As I sit in my cell
I get stronger and stronger
I walk and I pace my cell
like a caged tiger
but as the unit comes to a lull
I think of hope . . .
October 4-6, 2019