Writing for Restoration: An Anthology from a Community of Voices (working title)

Since Fall 2013, Old Growth Northwest has collaborated with University Beyond Bars to teach creative writing at Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington State. Drawing on the foundational philosophy of Restorative Justice, which prioritizes rehabilitation and repaired relationships, the course examines conflict in storytelling by focusing on restoration and mindfulness.

By empowering students to “own” their own narratives and to communicate authentically, we seek to humanize what it is to be in prison, to draw focus to the impact of the U.S. criminal justice system felt by those most affected by it, and to expand the conversation on mass incarceration in the United States.

This anthology goes far beyond reflecting the stories of prisoners – it seeks to encompass the entire community impacted by crime and severe conflict. Therefore, we invite all who feel a connection to these issues to contribute, whether you are a prisoner, an ex-prisoner, a survivor of crime, a family member or friend, a witness, a practitioner (lawyer, social worker, counselor, prison administrator or staff, teacher, etc.), or a concerned community member.

Please choose one or more of the prompts below and respond through fiction, poetry, or personal essay. Please submit your work by September 30, 2016 to anthology@oldgrowthnw.org. If you are in prison, please send work to Old Growth Northwest / Anthology, PO Box 30046, Seattle, WA, 98103.


  • Choose a symbol to represent a conflict in your life and write a poem or short story using the symbol.
  • Imagine that you are someone else – a friend or family member. Write a poem, short story, or essay from their perspective about something important to you both.
  • Write a poem, short story, or essay about a time when you felt anger.
  • Write an essay or short story from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.
  • Write a poem, short story, or essay in which you apologize to someone for having
    hurt them.
  • Write a poem, short story, or essay in which you forgive someone for hurting you.
  • Write an impact statement – how have your actions affected your life, the lives of those around you, and your community? Remember to discuss what constitutes your community.
  • Write a short story about a seemingly unlikeable main character such that the reader is compelled to empathize with the character.
  • Write a persuasive essay making the case for a specific remedy or remedies for an injustice.

Submission Guidelines:

Fiction word limit: up to 5,000 words
Personal essay word limit: up to 5,000 words
Poetry page limit: up to 4 pages
Rights: First American Rights
Language: English