To Awaken Soulfulness in the Human Voice

Poetic Medicine


At the first Saturday session, one of the poets told me he wrote poetry "to

escape this place to somewhere more real" -- not "nicer" or "better" but

"real!"  The Monday after our Saturday sessions, one of the

prisoner-poets told my teacher-friend, "After the poetry class, I slept

better than I have since I got here.

—Wayne Gilbert

Unlocked: Discovering Inner Resources

for Personal Transformation through Reading and Writing Poetry


IPM Partner: Wayne A. Gilbert

Wayne has been a teacher of wri1ng and literature since 1979. Although re1red from full-time community college English teaching since 2012, he con1nues teaching as a university adjunct.

As a professional development facilitator and graduate adjunct professor of educa1onal psychology, he is also a veteran teacher of teachers.

Wayne, also known as “magmapoet,”  began performing his original poems in the summer of 2000, often with improvising free-­‐jazz musicians. An ac1ve contributor to one of the hottest and diverse poetry scenes in the country, Wayne has mentored some of the na1on’s top spoken word ar1sts. His own performances are legendary in the Rocky Mountain region for their dynamic energy. He has read and performed in theaters, classrooms, nightclubs, cafés, coffee shops, bookstores, TV studios, conference ballrooms, church basements, prison—and even under bridges. Wayne is also a board member and performer for Art as Action, and a dancer in their “Re-­Connect with Your Body” program, originally developed for people with Parkinson’s.

  • UnLocked: Discovering Inner Resources for Personal Transformation through

    Reading and Writing Poetry —  Overview

    Prison inmates in the Sterling (Colorado) Correctional Facility will read and study classic poems, experiment with wri1ng exercises, and develop poems of their own in a tradi1onal workshop format. Later in the day, inmates will share their finished poems at an open mic session.


    Attendance will be limited to 20 inmate—poets, to be determined by prison staff.

    Purpose and Goals

    The project will offer opportuni1es for prison inmates to unlock their inner resources and develop prac1cal, crea1ve and healing habits for dealing posi1vely with the reali1es of their incarcera1on. Even though they cannot alter the prison world around them, reading and wri1ng poetry will help them transform themselves from the inside out, and create inner spaces for freer and healthier lives.

  • Project Description

    The Project will consist of 8 monthly Saturday sessions, each consis1ng of:

    • a 3 hour afternoon poetry workshop in which inmate poets will prac1ce wri1ng, “workshopping,” revising and sharing poems. The facilitator/teacher will provide prompts, appropriate and helpful workshop methods (especially giving quality feedback), model and sample poe1c forms, and revision strategies. The facilitator/teacher will also develop a “studio” climate and spirit necessary for wri1ng and sharing.
    • a 1 hour open mic session for poets to “publish” their work.

    Sessions will begin in the Poetry Month of April, and con1nue May-­‐November, 2015.

    A collec1on of inmate poetry will be published at the end of the project.

© 2006-2016  The Institute for Poetic Medicine and John Fox