The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting a Writer’s Life in Prison

Caits Meissner, editor
Published in 2022
by Haymarket Books

“There is no technology more democratic than language. And so, let us sing,” writes Reginald Dwayne Betts in the foreword to this PEN America writing handbook edited by Caits Meissner, which features over fifty justice-involved contributors offering inspiration and resources for crafting a literary life in prison. With essays by influential writers including Ellen Bass, Mitchell S. Jackson, Piper Kerman, T Kira Mahealani Madden, and Patrick O’Neil, this comprehensive resource begins by breaking down various genres of creative writing, then follows with the intricacies of crafting a writer’s life in prison and building a writing community, using a mix of personal experiences and expertise to contextualize the difficulty of launching one’s work into the world beyond the walls of a prison. Offering pragmatic advice and helpful writing exercises, The Sentences That Create Us is not only an urgent handbook for incarcerated writers and their allies, but a craft book that will instruct and challenge any writer.