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Unlocked Poetry

Facilitator: Wayne Gilbert

Wayne A. Gilbert has been a Poetry Partner since 2013.

Unlocked Poetry was a monthly poetry workshop facilitated by Wayne Gilbert for offenders in Sterling Correctional Facility, Sterling, CO. Through this prison program poets could take refuge and express/explore their deepest emotions, desires, dreams and aspirations.

In collaboration with “Write Nights” with Words Beyond Bars and Denver Public Library, every other month volunteers gathered in a branch library to write responses to poems written by the inmate participants of Unlocked Poetry—generating a powerful conversation over the “death fence” and back again! Guest poets shared their work and practice with these men hungry to connect with other creative artists through their poetry.

Also included in the program were public talks, presentations, and readings by Wayne Gilbert of the poems and transformations of Unlocked Poetry participants; the mentoring of two poets by Eleanor Swanson, Colorado poet and teacher; in-house poetry readings by inmates for their peers; and “Concrete Echoes”—Facebook posts of poems from Unlocked Poetry.

The ethos put forward by the Unlocked Poetry program: Poetry makes it possible for resilience, growth and self-exploration in an environment otherwise entirely hostile to these necessities of life.

Wayne continues to correspond with several poets after passing the program off to Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a literary organization in Denver.

Unlocked Poetry
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