Prison voices: UW-Whitewater authors explore unique writing perspectives at national book reading and benefit

March 04, 2013

As university faculty members, Erin Celello and Ann Wertz Garvin are more than familiar with student writing and perspectives.

Later this month, these University of Wisconsin-Whitewater professors will embark on a literary journey to Boston to experience writing from an entirely different group of people - prisoners.

Celello and Garvin will participate in Literary Wilderness, an evening of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that highlights prison creative writing programs across the United States.

The event's theme is "Wilderness," and is meant to serve as an outlet for prisoners' voices to be heard.

Celello, author of novels "Miracle Beach" and "Learning To Stay", says she's looking forward to hearing this unique perspective.

"When I look back, I've always been writing," said Celello. "I wrote for the student newspaper in college, free-lanced for small magazines throughout college and graduate school, and was lucky enough to land a job writing speeches for a sitting governor. So, I'm excited to hear other pieces of writing from prisoners."

"The voice of the prisoner is one that is not often heard," said Garvin. "I believe the collective "we" as a society may benefit from hearing their voices. I also believe that rehabilitation and writing can go hand-in-hand. Change can come from awareness and writing can be a tool in that process."

Garvin is the author of two novels, "On Maggie's Watch" and upcoming "The Shoplifter's Guide to Finding Love Again." She said faculty members devoting time to a program like this shows the commitment of universities to reach people who have fewer educational opportunities.

"To be part of this esteemed group is amazing for me, and it's wonderful for UW-Whitewater to have this association as well," said Garvin. "UW-Whitewater is devoted to tolerance, diversity and assisting individuals in finding their best self."

Literary Wilderness is hosted by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, an organization that provides support, advocacy and resources to nearly 50,000 writers, 500 college and university creative writing programs and 125 writers conferences and centers.

For more information on Literary Wilderness and the other speakers, visit


Sara Kuhl

Jeff Angileri