Hannah Kuhn in front of a wall of greeneryHannah Kuhn, an AWA affiliate since 2023, recently wrapped up the first 9-week series of writing workshops at Coffee Creek. Coffee Creek is a women’s prison in Wilsonville, Oregon. Hannah and her co-facilitator, Maddy Clark, volunteer under the auspices of Poetic Justice. A mission-driven nonprofit based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Poetic Justice now has an official presence in Oregon.

Bringing Poetic Justice to Oregon

Poetic Justice’s Sunday afternoon workshops at Coffee Creek begin with a review of community rules of engagement, developed by the participants, an icebreaker, and a mindfulness activity. Participants create a visual “word palette” on a whiteboard, brainstorming ideas related to the workshop theme, then read aloud and discuss poems by incarcerated women who’ve attended Poetic Justice workshops in other states. Finally, they write in response to a prompt, take turns reading aloud (always voluntary) and offer respectful listening or supportive feedback, as requested by each reader. Each session closes with a circle and recitation of Poetic Justice affirmations: “I have a voice. I have hope. I have the power to change my world.” 

During the last session in December, participants held an informal poetry reading, presenting both selected published poems with an uplifting theme (Mary Oliver, Ada Limon, Langston Hughes, Ha Jin, Amanda Gorman, Maya Angelou) and favorite poems they had written themselves. The current series is fully enrolled with a waitlist, as positive reviews of Poetic Justice’s workshops spreads by word of mouth. 

Interested in leading similar groups?

Poetic Justice is Seeking Volunteers

In response to growing demand, Poetic Justice, Oregon is seeking additional volunteers to facilitate future workshops at Coffee Creek. Please contact Hannah Kuhn at wildfernwriters@gmail.com for more information about this rewarding opportunity. 

Founded by Ellen Stackable in 2014, Poetic Justice (www.poeticjustice.org) offers on-site poetry workshops and remote poetry writing partnerships.These groups have benefitted more than 4,000 incarcerated women in Oklahoma, California, Mexico, South Dakota, and Oregon.. Poetic Justice’s restorative writing and creative arts programs support healing and growth by holding space to process trauma and rewrite personal narratives to transform the story of incarceration. 

AWA Offers Training on Getting Started with Social Justice Writing Groups

Are you an AWA-trained leader (more about training here) interested in doing similar work? Is there a specific population with whom you’d love to write?

Join us for The Write Strategy: Power of Story on Saturday, March 16, 2024 from 11:30am–2:00pm EDT!

The event is facilitated by Sue Reynolds, who led award-winning workshops in women’s jails in Ontario, Canada. During the session, you’ll plan your own workshop with a social justice focus. You’ll explore how to initiate and maintain partnerships with organizations that are connected to the writers you’re hoping to serve. Sue will share wisdom from her experience and answer questions.

About Hannah Kuhn and Wild Fern Writers

Hannah Kuhn in front of a wall of greeneryIn addition to her volunteer role with Poetic Justice, Hannah recently launched Wild Fern Writers, offering online creative writing workshops and developmental editing. To sign up for her newsletter or enroll in workshops, please visit: https://www.wildfernwriters.com