Writing to Listen: Why I Write Across Prison Walls

Wendy Wolters Hinshaw


This essay describes a prison-university writing exchange that culminated in the collection of audio and written essays "Why I Write" (http://www.why-i-write.com) and offers "writing to listen" as a strategy for communicating and listening across institutional and social boundaries. I argue that sound reveals the material conditions of speaking and writing; in our writing exchange, it reduced the anonymity at the heart of the project while also revealing the places and sounds that shape us as writers. I suggest that writing to listen also provides a framework for community listening that is inclusive of the many additional, intentional actions involved in making sure all participants in a partnership are being heard.

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Publication of the Community Literacy Journal is made possible through the generous support of the English Department and the Writing and Rhetoric Program at Florida International University. The CLJ is a journal of the Conference on Community Writing.