Inmates in Canadian prisons have stories to tell and want to put them to paper, says acclaimed author and University of Guelph professor of creative writing Lawrence Hill. This fall, Hill will enable the writing of some of those stories at the Grand Valley Institute for Women (GVI) in Kitchener.
Multiple award-winning author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal, Hill is facilitating a U of G course on memoir writing at GVI as part of Walls to Bridges. The national program brings incarcerated (“inside”) and non-incarcerated (“outside”) students together in a variety of university and college courses. Ten inmates and 11 U of G students are enrolled in Hill’s workshop.
“Prisoners have told me they want to write and asked if I could help them,” says Hill, adding that he has a deep appreciation for prison writing and is committed to fostering it.
“It is at the very heart of some of the most influential literary expression that fundamentally revolutionized the world,” he says, citing Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X as highly influential examples.
“I’m just really interested in encouraging prison writing, in helping people who don’t always get that encouragement to express themselves.”
Hill’s workshop will provide students the opportunity to get inside autobiographical writing – first-person stories, opinion pieces or personal reflections.