CRF Blog

Visible Men

by Bill Hayes

In Visible Men, an essay for the New York Times Book Review, Helen Elaine Lee discusses creative writing inside prisons.

The sliding door buzzes and rumbles open. The guard calls out: “Come on, you’re next.” I stand up from the waiting area pews, where I have stowed my bag, watch and jewelry in a locker, and step forward. I enter the trap, a room between outside and inside worlds. I turn my pockets inside out, remove my shoes, walk through the metal detector and receive an ultraviolet stamp on my wrist. Every few months for 12 years, I have visited a Massachusetts prison to teach creative writing to a group of locked-up men.

The visits begin with a welcoming. The men rise from their circled chairs and thank me for coming to their cramped classroom. [more]