Palindromic poetry in prison, introducing Sandra Gould Ford

by | Monday, January 18, 2010

Those who follow this blog know that I love visual wordplay. This is most commonly seen in my ambigram work but another area where I have spent some time is in writing palindromic poetry. I wrote a whole series of poems when I was in graduate school at Illinois and they have been online, moving from server to server, for over 15 years now. I had written about my interest in palindromic poetry a couple of time before (see this and this). Now these were pieces created for fun and I had no real intention or interest in doing anything with them. I wasn’t even sure if anybody ever read them. That is, till a couple of days ago…

A couple of days ago I received a somewhat cryptic email that said,

I’m teaching poetry to men and women in jail.  The palindrome poem is a marvelous encouragement to their creativity and inventiveness. Thank you.

That was it. As you can imagine, that email intrigued me no end so I sent a reply back asking for more information and that is how I got to know Sandra Gould Ford. Sandra is an author-artist with a published novel. She makes art quilts and has been a member of the American Society of Media Photographers.

Finally, Sandra uses palindromic poetry in a series of Creative Writing classes at Allegheny County Jail, at Pittsburgh PA. This is part of a five year commitment she has made with the belief that “creative writing can infuse humanizing insights into incarcerated populations.” Each year this group has produced beautiful and compelling anthologies of poetry written by the inmates. I am waiting to receive my copy. You can get yours too, for $20, drop an email to Sandra with your address details [goodgould [AT] aol.com].

You can imagine just how touched was by the fact that something I had done so many years ago, on a whim no less, was actually being used, and in such a powerful way. The least I can do is promote the wonderful work that Sandra is doing so below are some links that can help you find out more about Sandra and what she does.

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