Hey, I'm on my
way to making a better life for myself. I want to say thank you
for everything you showed me and did for me. You taught me to
believe in myself and showed me I am somebody and not a nobody.
This is coming from my heart.
I saw my
brother die right in front of me. At that time I was mad and
sad, but most of all I was ready for revenge for my brother's
death. I did something stupid to come to jail, and that's when I
thought it was over. Then I went to The Jimmy Santiago Baca
Library, Writing, and Publishing Center and started to write. I
wrote about the streets and my brother's death and my time in
jail, trying to make it day by day. I have been locked up for
one year now, and now I know when I die I don't want people
crying. I want people to smile and say he was a good writer. His
words stopped me from hurting someone else. Can you believe it!
Me, I am writing, trying to help people, and I know my brother
is in heaven smiling down on me.
a home where there was hardly any love shown, I sheltered myself
from growing. So much was going on in my life and through the
experiences, it only got worse. Finally when I was sixteen yrs
old, I was sent to St. Joseph's Villa. No one ever wants to
admit that being in lock up changes your life from a whole
different perspective, but I can admit that I would probably be
dead or in jail if I didn't go. But even though I was in a whole
new world, I still wasn't able to express myself the way that I
really wanted to.
when we were being told by our staff that someone from NYSLC was
coming to work with some of the teens for a project. At first I
didn't want to participate because I thought that it was just
another excuse for us to be away from the cottage. We later
learned that NYSLC was an organization that gave youth the
chance to be heard and to express themselves. I decided to
participate and I'm so glad I did. For those few weeks that Dale
Davis was there with us, I felt like I could express myself no
matter what anyone said or thought. I've always written poems
but I never shared any of them with anyone and they were usually
short and dinky lol but they meant a whole great deal to me.
Dale taught us how to express ourselves in a way that I wasn't
used to. We would write our poems about how we felt, the
experiences we've been through, and so much more and actually
share them with the other kids in the program. It was different
for me, but I appreciated it so much. The program sort of put me
in the mindset of Def Poetry Jam. It was so much fun. In The
Villa, they were very strict on things we could and could not do
or say and while Dale was there I felt so comfortable because I
was able to express myself without worrying about getting in
trouble. It helped me a lot to come to terms with my past and to
realize that things could've been a lot worse. I wasn't scared
to say what I felt anymore. I was actually able to communicate
better with others after the program. I wanted to be heard and I
finally was. It was an amazing moment for me.
almost six years ago. I am now almost twenty-two years old,
and I still have the Roc City Anthem CD. I listen to it when I'm
reminiscing about old times, and it always reminds me of how I
can always relate to others in more ways then I can even
imagine. All of the experiences the kids and I in the project
had been through, from poverty, to sex, to drugs, violence,
neglect, every negative thing you can possibly think of, came
together in one movement. It was like we knew where each one of
us was coming from and understood what we were going through. We
were able to help each other cope with the anger and pain we
were enduring deep down inside. It was a wonderful experience
for me and I carry that with me till this day. I changed a lot
of my ways and became so much more mature, less angry, and more
uplifting. I am so thankful for Dale and NYSLC for helping me
cope with my troubles and helping me make it through with no
worries. Love you guys to death. Keep up the good work and
continue to reach out to the youth. You guys are a blessing!
When I was
recently incarcerated at Monroe Correctional Facility I was
introduced to the New York State Literary Center. I think this
is an awesome organization. This is a wonderful way for us as
young adults to express our feelings and beliefs on our everyday
life. The incarcerated staff and so many people look at us as
criminals. With the New York State Literary Center, we have a
chance to show and express ourselves positively as humans and
not just as an ID number. After my first time meeting with me
Ms. Dale Davis I was very interested in the program. She's a
wonderful person. The next day I was introduced to another
wonderful artist who explained to us how the program worked and
the kind of art we will be doing. The more I learned about NYSLC
the more I was ready to get involved in the class. The problem
is I'm being released from custody and won't be able to
participate in the program, which isn't fair! I asked Ms. Dale
Davis was there any organization like this put together that is
not inside of a correctional facility. It surprised me that a
wonderful program like this should just be in jails. I believe
if there was a program like this created in the community it
really would make a change. There are plenty of young adults who
have been in jail and plenty of children who would love to join
a community classroom like the NYSLC. It gives us an opportunity
to learn, to have fun and express our feelings all at the same
time. For instance, I'm not good at drawing and I hate
expressing my feelings to others. With the self-portraits and
the art of collage, it really gave me a chance to express myself
in several different ways.
think there should be a discussion about opening a "community"
classroom in the "community". I would even help run a fundraiser
for funds if needed to get the program up and running. Thanks
for your time and appreciation. Hope to hear something soon!
After being incarcerated in 2015, I felt embarrassed for leaving my family to fend for themselves.
Not only did I let myself down, I forced my family to suffer the consequences of my choices and
not their own. After it was all over I was grateful they choose to stick by my side the whole six
months I spent in jail. Shortly into my time, I met Dale Davis, who taught a New York State
Literary Center writing program in the jail. I was happy for this opportunity, little did I
understand at the time the impact the program would have on my life."
From the beginning we were given assignments and the materials to complete them. Along with
books and articles to read and research, we were given writing by famous authors and historical
literature to read. The New York State Literary Center program came through. It created an
environment where we could feel proud despite our temporary circumstances by laying the
foundation and building the tools necessary to create better opportunities for ourselves that
would serve as a positive in our communities and not a negative.
I thought it would be nice and awarding for you to hear a true success story from a extremely "messed-up child" that beat all the odds, stereotypes, and statistics to became what he (I) wanted to become and so much more. There's too many circumstances and situations to type in a letter or an email that will capture just a fraction of all of the hard work, sweat, humidity, respect, fear, dealing with myself, and all the struggling I endured to achieve my goals. You significantly contributed to me turning my life around I cannot express enough the gratitude and respect I have for you for helping me.
I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the work that you do with children! I had the pleasure of taking a creative writing class with you years ago (mid/late 90s) at Alternative High School in Fairport. I was in a district based classroom across the parking lot at the Foreman Center, and a few of us were given the opportunity to join your class - I had always loved writing poetry, but never felt that I had an unbiased open environment in which to express my feelings. The way you connected with the kids really has stood out to me after all these years.
At the time I was really into Nirvana, the Grateful Dead, and Marilyn Manson - quite the combination! You allowed me and a classmate to dissect our favorite songs by Marilyn Manson and write about them from our perspective in an effort to educate parents about why they shouldn't just blame the music for all their child's problems. You also recommended that I read Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland, which is still a favorite of mine today! As an adult with my own child now, I have come to realize the mostly thankless work that so many educators dedicate themselves to. As I pulled out Douglas Coupland again this week for another read, I thought of you (and searched for you!) and am so glad to see you are still churning away and making a difference in people's lives!
Thank you for all that you do!!
I want to start by saying thank you. My family wants to thank Dale Davis, the New York State Literary Center, and all the people at the Strong National Museum of Play for donating the tickets to us. In my time of incarceration we are grateful for this blessing to give my family a chance to go to such an awesome place. My kids totally enjoyed the Butterfly Garden and all of the cool attractions in the museum. They told me they had a great time. They were amazed at how I got tickets for such a cool place. When I told them they could not believe that something so good could come from a place like jail. My kids are older so they kind of understand my situation and the kind of place I am in. They worry, but seeing something so nice can come from a place like this gave them an ease of mind.
I hope this continues. It makes a big difference in the lives of families where a family member is in jail from my perspective. It brought a big smile to my girls. My girls can’t thank you enough for this awesome chance you gave us. We all hope this gift keeps on being given. Thank you for such a rare opportunity and experience.
Thank you from me and my family.
I ask myself everyday why did I choose the life I chose. I have two felonies. What jobs will there be for me, a two-time felon? Some days I just sit on my bunk and think of ways to try to correct my life because I know if I give up I will either be dead or in prison. I can’t give up. I have a lot of people who love me. I can’t live the way I was because I always get the same results, and I am so tired of coming in this revolving door. From here on out I made a vow to myself to never come back to this place again. I know it will take a lot of hard work. I am determined to change for me and my two little girls. Honestly Ms. Dale is the person who I sit back and listen to. She is such a positive person, and she sees good in everyone. She honestly made me want to do better and become a better person. I want to say thank you to her.