Carceral Free Write Symposium (CFWS)

Carceral Free Write Symposium (CFWS)

Upon request, the Ben Free Project will mail the following to incarcerated writers in California: complimentary printed writing curricula and instructional packets curated by accomplished journalists, editors, authors, writers, poets, essayists, and academics, who impart writing primers and writing style lessons in multiple disciplines.

Outreach will be accomplished by placing ads in the San Quentin News, a monthly printed periodical distributed to all of California’s 90,000+ carceral state residents. These ads will solicit aspiring writers to engage the CFWS and have them request to be placed on the CFWS mailing list, engage the CFWF critique letter program (Plank 2) at UCLA, and invite them to submit to become published in the Barz Online blog (Plank 3).

The intake process for the CFWS will require participants to commit to:

  1. Submit an individual sample of their work for review;
  2.  Receive the feedback (critique letter evaluation) mailed to participants by the Ben Free Project’s
    CFWS staff; and
  3. Incorporate the feedback into at least one revision and mail that revised work back to CFWS headquarters for final review.

The broader purpose of this intake process is to provide measurable instances of literacy being improved, an accumulating stack of before-and-after literary submissions that will allow granting agencies to see their grant dollars at work.

Though the manner in which California obstructs resident publishers within their respective facility ecosystems from building publishing platforms is disheartening, our 3-plank system can use a small-dollar infusion to harness the San Quentin News‘ system-wide reach, seed effective ad copy therein, and prompt the state’s entire population to begin the intake process outlined above. After intake, prospective CFWS writers will become eligible for consideration, on a bi-monthly basis, for the online publishing/archival of a wide array of content. By erecting these three planks in conjunction with UCLA, and the use of ad placements in the San Quentin News, the Ben Free Project can tether a feedback triangulation that works to establish a statewide community of creators/writers,  and can train, critique, and publish them.

The Ben Free Project will augment its outreach using two parallel tools the state Department of Correction deploys:

  1. The program will be featured/profiled prominently in the San Quentin News
  2. Ben Frandsen will promote the program on the CDCR Unlocked podcast streamed free via GTL tablet to all residents and on his own Ben Free Podcast (on Spotify, Apple, Audible, etc.).

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