Writing Behind the Wall

Teaching prison writing, where prisoners live

Writing Behind the Wall 1

Chronicle illustration by Scott Seymour

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Chronicle illustration by Scott Seymour

Two college seniors and nine convicted felons fill desks in what might be an elementary classroom on the bad side of town: ragged curtains, cranky heat register, stained ceiling. The convicts, all men, wear sweats in state-issue green. The students (I'll call them Tyler and Lisa) wear the dress-down cool of American undergrads. Tonight we're discussing a story by George Saunders, then examining a new draft of an essay by one of the men, Radman. His essay, based on a real incident, describes a