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Convictions: Creative Writing/Performing Workshops in Prison

For Convictions: Creative Writing/Performing Workshops in Prison, the panelists will share their experiences in leading creative writing and performing in prison programs throughout the U.S. and especially Ohio. They will inform the audience of opportunities for writers to work and volunteer as creative writers as programming begins to open post-Covid. They will also address questions on what writers might avoid, and what they might learn for their own writing. Most of all, they may, in the words of panelist Phyllis Gorfain, help incarcerated residents “transform their lives as they seek to redeem their pasts and remake their futures.”


Christopher Dum is the director of the ID13 Program out of Kent State, a prison literacy program that provides incarcerated writers with the opportunity to receive support, encouragement, and one-one-one feedback from writers in the community. Christopher is an Associate Professor of Sociology at K.S.U., and author of Exiled in America (Columbia 20116). He studied Justice, Law, and Society at American University and Criminal Justice at University of Albany, Buffalo. Find him on the web at

Phyllis Gorfain created the Oberlin Drama at Grafton (ODAG) in 2012 and directed many performances of Shakespeare and resident-created productions. For her work, she was given the Ohio Governor’s Award in the Arts in 2018. In addition to directing, she wrote, edited, and coached writers in the program and beyond the program into reintegration. Phyllis is Professor of English Emerita at Oberlin College. More information on her work is at the ODAG site

Annie Holden, Employment Specialist and Job Readiness Instructor at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, and volunteer poetry facilitator at 2100 Lakeside Men’s Emergency Homeless Shelter. She teaches job readiness skills adults who have been incarcerated, homeless or in a cycle of poverty. Annie has received funding from Institute for Poetic Medicine for poetry projects conducted in the shelter and community, described here:

Diane Kendig led a creative writing program at the Lima Correctional Facility for 18 years, then relocated to Boston where she was a mentor in the PEN Prison Writing Program. Now back home in Ohio, she has volunteered for ODAG and been a guest in many Ohio prison writing programs. The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Poetry Fellowships, she is the author of six books of poetry, including Prison Terms, and many essays and programs on teaching writing in prison. Find her on the web at

Zachary Thomas, co-founded and directs Writers in Residence, which provides creative writing workshops to residents of juvenile detention facilities in Northeast Ohio. The program strives to reduce recidivism within the juvenile justice system by providing means for self-expression. Zachary has received a John Carroll University/Cleveland Foundation Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Grant Fellowship. He has a BA in creative and professional writing from John Carroll: 


Details: Convictions: Creative Writing/Performing Workshops in Prison takes place Monday, July 19 from 7-8:30pm remotely through Zoom. 


Zoom Info: Register for the panel and Lit Cleveland will send you an invitation and instructions on how to attend via Zoom. 

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