I started a book club in a prison

hesperides

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
It´s awesome to see how far your love for books has pushed you in questions of a few months. Finally you´ve ended up teaching in the most unthinkable place, a prison no less, that some books might touch and awake the sensibility and a spark of interest in even the most hopeless of all prisoners if they only agree to play a bit during your lectures. I admire the faith you put in your initiative, not letting yourself coming down during your first classes as very few seemed to enjoy the challenge by then.

No doubt the universe heard your call, you finally were very assertive with the book about Asperger, yeah, who would think of such a book raising interest among people who don´t like reading and have issues understanding what they read. I think that in a way they must have sensed your own passion for literature, maybe they just needed time to process their revulsion for books. :perfect:
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Et oui Hesperides. But I just say to myself: the books saved my life, when I was living in a prison, symbolicaly. :) Books can save inmates. It is just a question of perseverence. From them and from me.

If I just was able to put this perseverence in other important things in my life.... :rolleyes:
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
My experience at the book club in the prison continues. Thanks to another very good librarian I brought to the men a very good book, a sort of story with drawings. The genre is illustrated book. The book talks about a grand-father that explain to his granddaughter about his past, his life as a young boy that started to keep little objects in little matchboxes as a sort of diary, to remember and be able to never forget. The young boy is Italian and came to USA because of the huge misery in his country. So every matchbox has a little object and every matchbox is a story. A story about our past, about resilience, about knowledge.

This book touched my men in the prison. First they read all the book. This is amazing. And me, as a sort of guide, find in this book a sort of cathedral with so many subjects that I am me too amazed. We talked last Thursday about Anne Frank, Malcom X, about Etty Illesum, about symbols, about relation sheep between seniors and young people, about concentration camps and prison, about diaries... Now, next week I will make them imagine what they would put in a box for the future that represents their lives in the prison if they have to leave the prison with just a little matchbox.

In my classes I make them write, sometimes alone, sometimes in a team. I make them play roles, I make them read aloud.

You can imagine my happiness when a very gentle man that never read a book came to me telling me that he read entirely the book about the matchboxes. It is not the first time that happens, but maybe the second time. ;-D But every time is like the first time, suddenly sun is in the class. And with this book almost every men read the book entirely. But this particular man, that is gentle and do not like to read, came to me with joy and pride in his eyes.

Like kids around me, I read them stories and make them live the story. Then I ask questions about what I just read to them. Last Thursday I saw an insight in one of them. It was about when the family left Italy for USA. When they left their grand-mother told to them: "Ah! you will forget about your country when eating new food in America." They young boy then keep in a matchbox a noodle. When we saw that the noodle was a symbol of Italy they understood, specially one man, the importance of a symbol. And how important is food as a symbol of roots. And how food is not just food but much more.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this little story for you. Life is a very interesting story!
 
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loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
This is the book about matchboxes. A little treasure of book!
 

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turiya

The Force is Strong With This One
The have a lot of difficulty to concentrate, maybe the only moment where they are in attention is this class. But outside they don't. Some breath exercises I will try before the class.

Hey loreta
You mentioned introducing breathing exercises to improve the inmates ability to concentrate.
There is a method of meditation called Vipassana Meditation, which involves watching / witnessing one's own body & one's own mind. And, breathing is a natural function of the body.

Since, inmates are already living in somewhat isolated situations of solitude, it seems to me that this type of situation provides a natural backdrop for these individuals to enter a meditative practice. It would be a quite suitable practice for one to naturally enter into.

So... what about books on meditation?
Meditation is simply self-observation.
It is a way for one to keep oneself more sane.

As an example of the kinds of books I am referring to, I found the following pdf in Spanish. The English titles would be on meditation would contain from this particular author, as this author has close to more than 600 books that have been translated into many different languages.
Una Nueva Vision De Las Relaciones (A New Vision of Relationships )​
Other similar books in pdf available are as follows:
El Libro de los Secretos Volumen 1 (The Book of Secrets Volume 1)​
(Open your conscience: 70 Osho Books to download for free)​

Cheers & good luck.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you Turiya. I will check what can I do. I depend of a list of books of the organisation of the Book Clubs for the island to be able to bring around 10 books every time and there is nothing about meditation, relaxation, etc. I bring some texts that I photocopy by myself and pay for it myself. I received nothing from the prison, any kind of help in that sense. Once in a while I bring some texts about breathing, meditation also, etc, and we talk about the subject but as you can imagine they are not interested at all. To work for oneself is something that they don't understand. But I try. To be able to be in silent one minute is a hard challenge for them. To listen to the others also. But I try and they try in a sense also, when they come in my class.

Thanks for the links, surely something I will find for them, some pages that I can copy and photocopy.
 

turiya

The Force is Strong With This One
I have also tried to see about sending books to prison libraries. And found that its not such an easy thing to do. For starters, I found that, here in the States, they only accept paperback books, which makes some sense since they don't want things coming into prison that could contain objects that could cause problems. I've made several phone calls to various 'corrections' institutes & never have received a call back from any of the places where I've left a message.

You must get quite a resistance to what you're trying to accomplish, which comes embedded within the system that you're trying to work with. Tough all the way around.

Cheers.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I give myself a lot of books to the prison, no problem in that sense, they accept everything, the prison library has around 15 thousand books. The problem is to find 10 books or so together for the class, every inmate has to have the same book. That's why I have to take books from the Club Books organisation.
 

Maat

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you Turiya. I will check what can I do. I depend of a list of books of the organisation of the Book Clubs for the island to be able to bring around 10 books every time and there is nothing about meditation, relaxation, etc. I bring some texts that I photocopy by myself and pay for it myself. I received nothing from the prison, any kind of help in that sense. Once in a while I bring some texts about breathing, meditation also, etc, and we talk about the subject but as you can imagine they are not interested at all. To work for oneself is something that they don't understand. But I try. To be able to be in silent one minute is a hard challenge for them. To listen to the others also. But I try and they try in a sense also, when they come in my class.

Thanks for the links, surely something I will find for them, some pages that I can copy and photocopy.

It reminds me what we were talking about in the French meeting of yesterday : You are not there to "save" people who don't want to be "saved". I mean, just give the information for those who wish/choose to receive it/are colinear. At the end of the day, it's their choice, only THEIR choice, not yours.

I somewhat admire you to have the energy to do this. What is your trick ? For me, yes, when I was younger I could have this wish, but nowadays, I'm more like, you don't want it, OK, hope our pathes won't cross. I guess it's a lesson for each of us.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
It reminds me what we were talking about in the French meeting of yesterday : You are not there to "save" people who don't want to be "saved". I mean, just give the information for those who wish/choose to receive it/are colinear. At the end of the day, it's their choice, only THEIR choice, not yours.

I somewhat admire you to have the energy to do this. What is your trick ? For me, yes, when I was younger I could have this wish, but nowadays, I'm more like, you don't want it, OK, hope our pathes won't cross. I guess it's a lesson for each of us.
Absolutely. It is their choice, their life and their decision. I never judge if they don't read or don't make an effort to change or whatever.

What is my trick? I don't know. One: curiosity. To be able to see how they are, who they are, why they are there. To learn about what is a prison. To be able to feel how it is to be in a prison. I am a very curious person. Not just about inmates but workers there, officials, police, teachers, psychologues, etc. A prison is a sort of country with laws and languages, a little planet in our planet. Two: I like to teach. I am a teacher, by studies. So I like to teach, just that. 3: I like to give my love of books to others, because I know that books can help. In fact this is number one. If I go there is because I love books and this love I want to share. To share to people that need a little compassion, whatever they did in their lives. The love of books is a big love, that embrace and is gentle and kind and understanding of many things. And is a love that needs to be share.

So I am not naive at all. But I know that everything is a lesson and these men that are not angels they are living their lesson. So books are the ideal door to open and share, to communication and understanding each one whoever we are.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The other day the most important library of the island with the municipality gave out prizes to commemorate reading. This prize giving was supposed to take place in March of last year but Covid came so it was cancelled. There were 10 prizes to be given out, one of which was mine for the work I did in the prison with the book club. The prizes were given to people who were avid readers, families and individuals, and also to another woman who also has a book club in a prison. Because of the covid we all wore masks.

This was done in a big theater in the city. This award was also a commemoration for the library owner who died in 2019 and for a very good writer who was very much loved for his social work in order to unite this island with black Africa and also came to talk about one of his book in the prison. By the way he was also married to a woman from Quebec. He was very kind and came to the prison, even when he was ill. He died just a little bit before the librarian.

I had a few minutes to speak at the awarding of the prize (a statuette in the shape of a frog) so I thanked the library staff and all those who helped me, especially the men who participated in the club. Said a few words about the importance of reading, especially in the time of Covid. the importance of book clubs, the importance of reading to know oneself, etc. Everything went well.

I felt that this commemoration had a kind of lack of joy, all those masked people who came to see us, it was a little gray. I think that Covid is guilty of all this. But other than that it was good. In fact what was absent is the book itself, how a book can give joy and much more. This idea of the book as a tool in our lives to make happiness and changes was absent.

Regarding the club at the prison I stopped doing it because I had to wear a mask during the meetings. And so I didn't agree to do it.

That's all. I just wanted to share and give you news about this project that was very important in my life.
 
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