Episode 73 – Jim Reese – Why Teaching Writing in Prisons Helps Everyone

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Jim Reese says readers connect most with his “failures and screw-ups,” because they reveal the humanity that lives within each of us. The author of four books, including a beautiful collection of essays called Bone Chalk, and director of the Great Plains Writers Tour, Jim teaches writing at Mount Marty College and as part of a writing-as-healing program at Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, S.D., where he is “passionate about helping people come to terms with their emotional instabilities through writing.”

In this episode, Lynne Golodner asks Jim about 4 p.m. Count, the annual journal of prisoners’ writings he’s published consecutively for 12 years, using your voice to make a difference, the simple writing prompts he offers to students to get to the root of their pain, and breakthrough moments he’s experienced. “There are no socioeconomic boundaries to dysfunction,” says Jim. “The key is to create a safe environment where people can tell their stories.”

Jim’s Permission Slip: “Dare to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to.”

In this episode, Lynne and Jim discuss:

  • Creating universal truths by getting hyper-specific
  • Honesty in writing
  • How crime affected Jim’s life
  • Finding your purpose through simple writing prompts
  • The courageous act of using your voice
  • Writing as a force for rehabilitation

Links and Resources:

Are you courageous enough to use your voice to make a difference? If you like this episode, you’ll also like these episodes of the Make Meaning podcast:

Coming up next week on the Make Meaning Podcast:

Next week, Lynne interviews Deanna Singh, author, social entrepreneur, and founder of the Flying Elephant Foundation. Deanna’s multicultural roots have strongly influenced and inspired her mission to build bridges and shift power to marginalized communities. Tune in to hear about her passion to help people thrive, whether it’s through community work, promoting diversity and representation for youth of color, or coaching others to find their purpose.