Who We Support

Poetic Justice Program Funding: Voice, Hope, Power to Change

Poetic Justice

Award Date: September 4, 2020
Awarded: $15,000

Poetic Justice seeks to rewrite the narrative about women who are incarcerated by equipping them with tools for healing from trauma, showing the world their inherent worth, and helping them find their voice so that they may be agents of change through restorative writing and creative arts programs.

Oklahoma has the highest female incarceration rate per capita in the world and ranks 38th in the nation for its poor mental health care system. Poetic Justice’s primary program, Writing Workshops, is currently hosted in every prison in Oklahoma and in several county jails. More than 3,000 women have engaged in the courses offered by the 20 volunteer facilitators.

Why Poetry? Poetry is a forgiving form of writing. There are no true rules when it comes to poetry, making it less intimidating for women who have never seen themselves as writers. Poetry is emotional. Poetry is freeing. For these reasons, Poetic Justice founder Ellen Stackable chose poetry to reach incarcerated women.

The women who participate in Poetic Justice writing classes choose to be there. Participation is not incentivized and has no effect on sentence length. The majority of Poetic Justice participants learn of the program by word-of-mouth; the impact of hope and healing travels fast within prison walls and there is a waiting list to participate that can range in length from 30 to 100 women.

Poetic Justice programming is designed to serve women experiencing incarceration (Writing Workshops) and the wardens and staff that care for them (Advocacy and Outreach). Through engagement with poetic expression, their community, and analysis of their identity, women find a new sense of hope and resiliency. Poetry allows women hardened by their experiences to flourish in new ways, ultimately strengthening their voice, their community, and their future.