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"Out in the Night": Notes Towards Day 20 (Wed, Feb. 29)

Anne Dalke's picture

I. (2:00-2:05, Jody):  coursekeeping
today, after talking about our praxis sites,
we will watch an 82-min. film, Out in the Night:

tomorrow, we will discuss it; please also ready Joey Mogul, Andrea Ritchie, and Kay Whitlock, Chapter 5: “Caging Deviance: Prisons as Queer Spaces.” Queer (In)justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 2011): 92-117:

both of these are about the discrimination and abuse around race, gender, sexuality:
the film is about how being queer can land you in jail;
the essay is about the abuse that is targeted to queer people who are incarcerated
so a heads up/trigger warning--> take care of yourself:
very important issues we need to examine, and/yet/but recognize that this can be costly,
as we take it in...

II. (2:05-2:30, Anne): return to Sweeney's statement that we used y'day,
focusing now on our praxis sites:
my task as a cultural critic is to build a bridge between the daily work that
imprisoned women perform through their reading practices, and the work of

transforming the structures in institutions that keep so many women in prison.

adding to that Sierra's contribution: what is the work that we are
doing relationally @ our sites, that might help construct such a
bridge? and Dani's query about not just sharing, but learning
how to interrogate our experiences

break into site-specific groups, and discuss...

* Riverside (with Anne):
how might we bring the inside women into
conversation about what the task of the book group is?
--do more of y'all want to share the opportunity to co-facilitate?
--what about sharing our own writing?
--who'll drive this Friday?

Yesterday in class at the correctional facility, I felt like it was increasingly difficult to participate. I'm not sure what happened to the open, liberating, refreshing environment I and many of us described about the earlier classes. Yesterday I didn't feel that at all.....Also, I think our class discussions need to have a little more structure, [in conflict w/ desire above for open freedom??] like the quote finding activity we did about identites last week and the things we brainstormed after class this Friday.

m r r: 
As much as I believe the personal experience-sharing within our book club is really necessary no matter if we were inside or outside the prison walls, I think we should heed Plemons's warnings about obsessing over the Western, colonial mantra that craves stories as "material value" , craves a result of some sort--Like a "progression" over the course of the time our book club lasts....I want to focus on the relationality, not just individual stories, but it's hard to seperate the two concepts in my mind. Within every individual story, there is a story of relationality-- how certain interactions of others affected us, how people perceived us, how we perceived others.

I left our class on Friday feeling extremely drained and somewhat hopeless....personal reflections and stories shared hit you like nothing you could ever expect. The complicated reality of the intersection of the written and performed self-came to light...the gendered entrapment of the system that neglects abused and battered women, specifically women of the result of the lack of...acknowledgment for...their struggle in this overly gendered, prison built nation.

droomes10:I think the class needs to have a structure in place that pushes us to interrogate our pain or points of conflict in our lives. After a certain point, it's not enough to just share.

* YASP (with Jody):
how are you understanding your contributions?
thinking about re-configuring this some way?

This visit felt like a "get in, get out" kind of visit. I think that it's hard to not have solid ideas of what we will be doing each week; whilst the unpredictability and "go for it" attitude of the non-profit is definitely understandable, it can be a little draining on the motivation aspect.....I've been thinking more about how we might want to work together to develop a workshop to present. I'm still nervous about it, but I think it would help connect me more with the organization to see and experience this part of the work that they do.

Who am I to decide which of their poems are "good?"...I felt snobbish and pretentious, I've never stopped and questioned myself while reading before....I felt suddenly so self conscious of my automatic mental critiques, and wondered how much I should let that take over my decision making in the submitted poems....What is it like, when your words and artwork become free, while you remain locked up behind walls and bars?

Thinking about it makes me tired...But I'm happy we worked together and I wasn't there doing it alone. If that was the case... I would have been very lost and very annoyed.

* BTB (with Nell):
book drive? (initiated by Miciah?)

Rain Queen:
It's hard to get in the mindset of opperating as part of a "collective;" part of me wants to fight the label and take issue with being placed into one big just being there and doing what is needed enough? one talks about the individual bricks (even if they know how important each is); instead you praise a sturdy, well built home.

unsettle8: I wrote postcards to all the people we did not have books for....The letters were all at least a year old, and all these people were still waiting for their books. The most heart breaking was the seance letter. A woman wrote about how desperatly she needed this book, her young daughter died, and because she (the writer) was incarcerated she never got a chance to say goodbye. We did not have a book for her, and I had to write her saying that....All I felt was sorrow, but because I was writing from such a distance it was hard to appropriately communicate how I really felt....she exists in my world only in a letter that was already mailed away. 

2:30-2:38: Break

IV. (2:38-4:00): Watching Out in the Night