Creative Writing Classes
Since our founding in 2011, MPWW instructors have taught over 250 creative writing classes to more than 3,000 students in all of the state's adult correctional facilities. Classes are the foundation of our programming and the hub for MPWW's vibrant writing community. We offer regular courses at all levels and in many genres, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, playwriting, and more. Students learn to tell their own stories in their own voices, a process they tell us is profoundly rehabilitative.
Once students have completed a class, they are eligible to join MPWW's thriving Mentor Program, in which incarcerated writers are paired with experienced writers and editors in the community for monthly exchanges of creative work and detailed, personalized feedback.
The Mentor Program provides an opportunity for MPWW students to continue to receive artistic guidance and encouragement outside of the classroom. MPWW currently has over 50 active mentorships and continues to grow.
Each year, MPWW hosts a large, in-person public reading of student work called Beyond Bars at Hamline University, usually on the third Saturday in October. Audience members are invited to write feedback to the artists, affording a rare opportunity to communicate across prison walls. Our 2023 annual reading is slated for Saturday, November 4, 2023.
We also occasionally host other events to showcase student work. Since 2020, we have organized the virtual Before Time Reading Series, in which poets of national renown read alongside MPWW students.
To keep up with our events, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or sign up for our email list below. To find past recordings of Before Time readings and other events, check out our YouTube page.
Based on the model of the Stillwater Writers Collective, "Collectives" founded by Zeke and C. Fausto, are formal groups of experienced writers who meet regularly to share work, discuss literature, and plan literary events. MPWW sponsors Collectives at five facilities. These self-directed groups offer incarcerated writers an opportunity to organize their own artistic communities.
Collectives are important organizational partners for MPWW. Our students know their communities, and Collectives provide important guidance and feedback on our programming.
Student Journals and Broadsides
MPWW publishes an annual print anthology of student writing, which is curated by an editorial board of incarcerated writers. For many writers, the MPWW journal is the first time they see their creative work in print.
Additionally, each year MPWW facilitates a broadside contest, in which MPWW student work is adapted by artists at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts into handmade letterpress broadsides. Winners are chosen each year by a guest judge. Recent judges have included the poets Natalie Diaz, Hieu Minh Nguyen, and torrin a. greathouse.
MPWW sponsors bubble gum machines filled with poems at numerous bookstores and other venues across Minnesota. The poems included in the machines were curated in partnership with a group of writers incarcerated at Stillwater Prison, and these machines are a small bridge between the thriving literary communities that exist inside and outside of prison in Minnesota. All proceeds support MPWW. Find out where you can visit one on the map!
The majority of our students will eventually be released, and we strive to continue serving them once they’re home. For details about reentry programming, click on the link below.