Joan Moses of New Brighton has been leading weekly writing sessions for incarcerated women since June 2015 and last month she released the anthology series Breaking the Cycle: Writings by Women in Prison.
The anthology is a collection of stories written by 43 women who were involved in a Moses’ personal writing group at the Residential Re-Entry Center of Roseville. The innovative writing program is geared towards female inmates who are working towards re-entry into the community.
“It kind of all started when one of my former teachers asked me to come with him when he did a writing group at the re-entry center,” said Moses. “That was probably 10 years ago and I was only able to go three times but I loved it and when my husband passed away in 2012 I started thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and going back to the women in prison just kept coming back to the top of my list.”
In June 2015 Moses started meeting with the inmates and it quickly developed in a weekly session.
“By January, the women that were coming regularly said, ‘well, can’t we put this in a book for the people that are coming in here after us,’ and I said yes,” said Moses. “Once they saw it in the book they wanted to publish it for women heading down the same path.”
According to MPR News, the number of incarcerated women rose more than 700 percent between 1980 and 2014 and represent the fastest growing population of incarcerated people in the Unites States.
“My original drive was just to give them a voice,” said Moses. “Their writings and poetry just blow me away.”
The inmates featured in the book have been incarcerated for a variety of reasons but are all working on reinventing their lives.
“Many of these women have lost everything,” said Moses.
Their writings focus on their families and how they were raised, relationships, losses and gains, addictions and recoveries, education and what they need to accomplish or change in themselves in order to live as law-abiding citizens.
“I am working on book two with another set of women and it is about half done,” said Moses. “It really makes a difference.”
Moses is a well-known author in the east metro, having previously written five books, including Roseville Girl, which shares her memories of growing up in the city.
The book launch party will take place on Sunday, April 30, from noon to 3 p.m. at Saint Maron Maronite Church, 602 University Avenue NE, Minneapolis. At the event, Moses will also be releasing her latest children’s book, “There Was An Old Lady Who Met a Monster.”
Breaking the Cycle: Writings by Women in Prison: is available on Amazon.
Contact Sam Lenhart at [email protected]