Through Poetry, Colorado Inmates, Communities Work To Build Bridges

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Photo: On the Same Page UNITED poems
Poems with comments for the incarcerated authors after an On the Same Page UNITED volunteer event in Washington D.C.

"Just because I've been taken out of the real world, doesn't mean I can't be somebody." Those are words from an inmate. He wrote them while participating in a national project called "On the Same Page UNITED." The project claims to "connect inmates with their communities" through poetry.

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, a Washington D.C. nonprofit working with incarcerated youth, conceived the program. Inmates write poetry, which is shared with volunteers. The volunteers read the poems and leave comments on the same page.

"On the Same Page UNITED" won an inaugural Aspen Ideas Award at last year's Aspen Ideas Festival. It has since expanded to Colorado.

Photo: On the Same Page UNITED Denver event
Community volunteers gather at Capital Tea in Denver for an "On the Same Page UNITED" event.

Kelli Taylor co-founded Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop and co-directs the poetry offshoot program in D.C. Karen Lausa runs a Denver-based literacy program called Words Beyond Bars, which also brings literature into correctional facilities. She helps coordinate "On the Same Page UNITED" efforts in Colorado. They spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop hosts a showcase of the project at the Mountain Chalet in Aspen. The event is Tuesday afternoon during the Aspen Ideas Festival.