Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


HSBurke's picture

..I've searched and searched for news that Elaine Bartlett has returned to prison, as Jessica brought up. Happily, I've found nothing to suggest that that has happened. Given that Dovetta was passionate about Elaine's story being hers, this gives me a little ounce of hope that she will make it out for good, too. Dovetta's impending release hung over our small group conversation today. We said it would be hard. We knew that it would be almost impossible. She will have to stay away from her husband of 21 years, a drug dealer, and her 6 kids, who also dabble in drugs. She will have to make meetings, find work, find herself, keep herself, follow her dreams. She wants to counsel addicts, write a book, stay clean, never come back. I assured Dovetta that I would be one of her first readers and that I hoped to read her book with another class of incarcerated women one day. The smile she gave me after hearing that single-handedly convinced me that I wanted, NEEDED to continue this work next semester. But now that I'm back home and I've lost sight of Dovetta, I've lost sight of my hope for her, too. We've been taught to blame the institution, the forces that be, that keep these women down. And in fact, we've made it our goal to teach them that, too. But does this way of thinking make it harder for us to hope, too? I can't keep out the doubt. The doubt that says Dovetta won't make it because of the forces pushing against her. I desperately want to believe it, though, and I am frustrated that reality peeks in so intrusively that I can't take a moment to just hope for her success and imagine her, pen in hand, writing that book. I want to believe it, but my visions don't last long, and that is frustrating to me. 

We came into this week's class with the idea of trying to pull Dovetta from her shell through small group work. 

We succeeded. 

But what Dovetta likely doesn't realize is that today she pulled me out of somewhere, too. Before this class, I had been unsure about wanting to continue with the book club next semester. Today, by the SPECIAL SOMEONE that is Dovetta, I was convinced. 

And next time, I want to be able to hope. 



jccohen's picture


has been very much with me too, hayley, since our time at rcf last week.  it was pretty deep in our threesome, and you leading the way for the two of us to be there with dovetta, talk about our quotes and let all that be permeated by her hopes and desires, fears and again hopes and commitments - for when she is out.  new year's eve.  i too have been vacillating between my hopes and desires and then fears for her.  and the tug of old assumptions about what's possible...  so i want to say, without being facile about it, that we just don't know.  can't know.  i do know that dovetta was smiling on and off all session.

Anne Dalke's picture

"find herself, keep herself"

I want to affirm what you say here, Hayley, and how you say it...

HSBurke's picture

Also, I wanted to tell you

Also, I wanted to tell you all that I'm going to make it a project of mine this winter break to start our indiegogo account to raise more money for our work. Sasha and Sara REALLY pulled it off with the craft fair and now I want to do my part, too. If anyone has any ideas for platforms that I can share our info on to make it more accessible to people who may want to donate, I welcome them! (So far, all I've been able to think of was Facebook..)