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Inaugural Write to Right event - Poetry as an Outlet for Incarcerated Persons by Nora Tsai

Updated: Aug 6, 2023

By Nora Tsai '25, Sidwell Friends

On Thursday, November 17th I had the opportunity to attend the Write to Right event at Sidwell Friends School. We got to hear from two formerly incarcerated persons and how writing, specifically poetry, became a source of comfort, an outlet, and a place to reflect for them. One of those formerly incarcerated persons came to the school to talk to us about his experience interacting with poetry during and after his time in prison. The second formerly incarcerated person met with us through Zoom from Honduras, where he was deported shortly after being released from jail. I was particularly moved by the chance to read poetry written by currently incarcerated people and comment on them. For me, getting to read someone else’s poetry is so special. Writing can be so vulnerable and a beautiful way to share one’s thoughts or stories.

The power of writing is one of the main things I carried after this experience. I really admire Write to Right’s mission in connecting people through words and the power of language. During this event, there was one poem that stuck with me and while I won’t share the details of it, I wanted to share how much it touched me. It is an incredibly powerful thing to have someone’s, even a complete stranger’s, writing and story reach out and speak to you. I think everyone should try and make a point to donate some of their time to future events and to learning more. It is special work and people that are involved and connected to this organization. I’m thankful for the opportunity I got to participate.

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