Meeting Report

March 17, 2013

JoAnn Anglin

Prisoners and Poetry
The “Poetry Out Loud” Program, other topics, and Poetry Readings

Does writing poetry help prison inmates secure a better life? Poet JoAnn Anglin thinks so, which is why she is teaching men at Folsom Prison that fine art, under a grant from the Metropolitan Arts Commission.

At this well-attended HAGSA meeting, Ms. Anglin related her practice of teaching poem creation not only to inmates but also to students in schools, children at the Crocker Art Museum, patients at Shriner’s Hospital, and interested people elsewhere. An accomplished poet herself, she exudes enthusiasm for the form that suggests deep love.

Ms. Anglin noted that, although she was a very experienced writer (exhibit writer for state parks, public information officer for state agencies, a column for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Newsletter, etc.), she did not begin her own writing until she was fifty. She gravitated to poetry after that.

She used her first reading, My Papa’s Waltz, by Theodore Roethke, to illustrate how different people interpret a poem differently. And she pointed out that this is just fine; poems are like that.

Ms. Anglin then read several of her own works, including Change, Currency, and Jesus Goes Swimming, to very enthusiastic audience response. In fact, the meeting closed with a spirited discussion of the extent to which individual audience members varied in their appreciation of the art of poetry versus its narrative value. Regardless of where we sat on that spectrum, it’s safe to say that all of us thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.

Thank you very much, JoAnn Anglin, for your excellent presentation. We hope to hear from you again soon.

Report prepared by Roger Zabkie


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