Lit by Each Other’s Light: Women’s Writing at Cook County Jail

Anne Fowell Stanford

in Interrupted Life

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780520252493
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944565 | DOI:
Lit by Each Other’s Light: Women’s Writing at Cook County Jail

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Cook County Jail in Chicago detains between 1,100 and 1,200 women on any given day, most of whom are there for non-violent offenses. The author of this chapter talks about when she started offering writing workshops shortly after a small group of volunteers and a supportive superintendent established a library in one of the conference rooms of the women's division at County. In this chapter, she describes the work of women in a writing program at Cook County Jail. She analyzes the language and the politics of the incarcerated women poets she teaches there. She believes that much of the poetry created in jails and prisons shares elements with the literature of testimony and witness. The poems also reflect the women's constructions and reconstructions of the self, solidarity, and community.

Keywords: Cook County Jail; Chicago; incarcerated women; poetry; writing workshops; language; politics; solidarity; community; testimony

Chapter.  6211 words. 

Subjects: Gender and Sexuality

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