Community Editor's Picks

Finding Humanity Behind Bars: Manzanita Writer’s Series

Lauren Kessler and Nancy Miller Gomez
7pm,  Saturday May 18, 2019
Admission $7

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Listen to two authors who spend time with some of the inmates–Kessler with “Lifers” in a maximum-security prison and Gomez with men and women in Santa Cruz CA county jails and prisons. They’ll talk about the ways writing can heal, redeem, and give meaning to life in prison as well as how the experience has made a difference in their own lives.

Lauren Kessler will read from A Grip of Time: When Prison is Your Life, based on three years of running writing workshops inside the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Kessler says her mission was to “learn about this hidden world. So that we all could. I could teach these men to craft stories. They could educate me about prison life. I needed to know—I thought we all needed to know—who these people were that we put away, far away from us, in a country that puts more people in prison than any other country on earth.”

Nancy Miller Gomez will read from her poetry chapbook Punishment, a 2018 Rattle Poetry Chapbook Selection. Gomez teaches poetry workshops to inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison. These work-shops foster creativity and self-expression, providing an opportunity for inmates to transform personal suffering into a shared experience through poems and stories. The workshops help participants heal emotional wounds and make meaning of their lives.

Kessler is an award-winning author and immersion reporter who combines lively narrative with deep research. She is the author of ten works of narrative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, O magazine,, Utne Reader and others.

Gomez has a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing from Pacific University. Her work has appeared in River Styx, Rattle, The Bellingham Review, Nimrod and elsewhere.

Kessler will also teach a writing workshop on Making Characters Come Alive during the day from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fee is $60. The workshop requires a minimum of six attendees so register soon at
There will be no Open Mic at the evening event to allow for the reading and Q&A with two authors.
NOTE: Admission for the evening reading is $7. Doors open at 630.
The Manzanita Writers’ Series is a program of the Hoffman Center for the Arts and will be held at the Hoffman Center (across from Manzanita Library at 594 Laneda Avenue.) Further information is available at online or contact Kathie Hightower, [email protected]