For a year and a half, we have brought creative writing classes to the women at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in Eagle River Alaska. In 2018, Jamey launched Hiland creative writing classes on her own, teaching a specific topic (ranging from poetry and fiction, to writing for publication, to memoir, to journalism), over the course of eight weeks. In 2020, Jaclyn joined the project as a co-teacher, which has allowed us to expand our resources and provide variety to the students.
Our classes average 10 – 15 students, and several women have enrolled in every single class we’ve offered—including our virtual classes, which became a necessity with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fall, we plan to offer an eight-week class built on Anne Lamott’s classic writing guide Bird by Bird.
This project is entirely voluntary and volunteer-run. We rely on our personal resources and funds to support every aspect of our classes.
Hiland Mountain Correctional Center is home to about 400 incarcerated women. In a normal year, Hiland bustles with activity; the facility offers a variety of programs, including educational classes, certification courses, yoga, a running program, and a string orchestra. However, with COVID-19 restrictions, Hiland currently cannot accept visitors. With the help of the onsite education coordinator, though, we have been able to continue our creative writing class—and we have seen a notable rise in attendance by the women since we have gone virtual. With the help of Awesome Foundation funds, we will be able to elevate our writing classes by providing students with quality class materials. Additionally, we will be able to offer a new class that expands our students’ understanding of careers available in the writing industry and the process of publication.
Funded by Alaska (August 2020)