Arts in Corrections is a partnership between CDCR, the California Arts Council, and the Fresno Arts Council to combat recidivism, enhance rehabilitative goals, and improve the safety and environment at Valley State Prison.
David Vanderpool – Drawing
Jack Artusio – Mural
Michael McCarty – Story Creation
“In the Storytelling Workshop participants will learn how to find, develop and tell their stories. I’ll model storytelling for them and use the Story Bag and other techniques to prompt them to develop their storytelling skills.”
My Mother always told me stories. I began telling stories formally when I was in high school in Chicago (St. Ignatius) in the 60’s, stories of Africa and the struggles of African-Americans for freedom. In 1992 I met Joel ben Izzy from Berkeley, CA who was introduced to me as a professional storyteller. “You mean to tell me that people pay you to tell stories!?” I asked. I picked his brain and vowed that I was going to become a professional teller too, and my motto would be “Have mouth. Will run it”.
So I went to my local library and began collecting folk tales from different countries and reading books about storytelling. One day the Young Adult Librarian asked me why I was getting so many books of folk tales and asked if I was writing a paper. When I told him that I was a storyteller he said that he had a group of teenagers that wanted to learn storytelling. Could I give them a workshop? I said sure. The workshop was a success. Thus began my career. And I’ve been running my mouth around the country and around the world ever since.
In 1994 Ken Frawley and I put together an organization of artists called Storytellers and Troubadours, which would later become The Los Angeles Dream Shapers. We have a roster of over thirty artists and put on showcases for schools and libraries throughout Southern California open to all performers.
In 1996 I initiated the GRIOT Workshop in Leimert Park in Los Angeles. This is a place where anyone can come and get assistance in developing their storytelling skills. From 2004 until 2008 I was the Pacific Region Representative for the National Storytelling Network (NSN) Board of Directories.
Presently I’m working with the California Arts Council’s Arts In Corrections project conducting storytelling workshops in five prisons in the Central Valley.
I love my job!
Marsha Jones – Choir
• Learning too care for the voice/vocal cords
• Learning Vocal Warm-ups and Exercises
• Learning to blend as one unit instead of individual singers
• Learning to follow the leading of a Choir Director
• Learning to harmonize
• Teaching the musicians in the class the music in order for them to continue to perform the songs after the program is over (this is done by the musician who plays for the class)
• Challenged to write and produce their own song
Marques Anthony Jones -Musician
Mauro Carrera – Mural/Drawing
Michael McLaughlin- Creative Writing
Ding Dong at the door
Creak as it opens. The sound
of Flip Flops as friends gather
to watch a football game.
Smack, clang, thump as the QB
throws an interception From one friend
a clap, crackle. Laugh From
another. A fun gathering has
turned intense. Whack, Bang, Yes!
As the interception turns into a score.
Crack, crash, crunch goes a cup against
the wall releasing the smell of beer
All over. Slap, thump, plop as high
fives are exchanged, which leads to
a slap, plop as the friend who is being a braggart
gets shoved down. HA, HA, HA!
The realist status in American is
this one. Surprisingly not the rich one,
but this one.
The status that has no
reputable representation or anally
polished color coded council members
to puppet. Just universal empathy.
We make changes appear by way
of necessity from sympathy and human
tears held back. Tears, that if released,
would fill the sidewalk cracks,
saturate the dry dirt there, and water
the seeds left behind by long
gone downtown animals. This is
the realist status.
The realist status in America is
this one. I mean. . . Where else in
This fine hypocrisy can you find
every color, creed and kind represented
under the same umbrella. . . . or
lack of one. Forced to drink the rain
together. Huddle in the same masses
that, blasted at, hip-hop, but then
fell on these times and felt the need
to scream it like they mean it.
What’s more American than that?!
Well. . . maybe guns, racism and
cocaine. But other than that! . . .
We are what it is. This is the realist status.
The realist status in America
is this one.
Not your typical, nonfictional, political
prize winner over for dinner, conversational
focal point. Na naw. . .
This is the one who ate the malt in
the house that Jack built. But then
got kicked out of the house that Mommy built
for one who loves solitude.
“Welcome to this status,” said the streets.
Light-skinned Eric called it “ill status” when
I grew up and saw him in
the pen. 40’s and any kind of cigarettes
a muthafucka got for me. “What’s hapnin!?
Store front runaway shelter rules. . .
In before 8. . .
Robberies after 10 on the one ways. . .
No alcohol after 2. . .
Buses start runnin after 5.
Gotta get to Sandi’s school by 8:30. Man,
fuck that! Kenny just got killed!. . .
Man, fuck that!!
You know what? This is the illist
status in American. I can’t do it.
But I gotta wake up wherever I’m
at , and do it all over again.
Grow up and witness the next genera-
tion peruse it all over again as
I split my 40 with em and save ‘um
shorts on my smoke. Protect ‘um and. . .
treat ‘em like folks up until they
mamas get out of rehab or what
have you and pull ‘um back into
the fold that unfolded when they
took that hit and chose this!
But who am I to judge? . . .
Let me tell you who I am to
I am of the realist status in
American. I judge it all from the
traumatized sidewalks not here.
And I love-to hate it.
Man, this is the illist status
in America. The realist thing
poppin in this jungle society from
buts to birds. From thugs to
nerds we move from shrugs to
words and get past these differences
for poverty’s sake. Shit, you gotta
know all the monkeys in the jungle
if you wanna’ swing around
these corners. Crazy lookin yellow
lights. Last man on earth
mellow nights between the tall
empty buildings. Long walks to
nowhere to empty feelings over
bridges you never burned but. . .
not comfortable enough to return
to address what concerns you.
Family fulla unrelated kids under
the bridge we call bridge kids.
Grown characters called L.A.,
Detroit, Chicago, New York. Riots with
the scary ass guardian angels on
Broadway. Riots with the the grimy
ass border brothers on Broadway.
Fuck! . . . I can’t do it.
But I gotta wake up wherever
I’m at and do it all over again.
This is the realist status
in American. The illist status we
got for those who plot on living
a life of coffee, cigarettes, coffee,’
cigarettes, coffee, cigarettes in their
near to forever future.
If I jump back into the thin
skin of my family then maybe I can. . .
. . . naw. I can’t do it.
I gotta wake up wherever I’m at. . .
and do it all again.
Porter C. Jamison- Screen Play Write
Sample from Macbeth – Empty Space, Bakersfield, CA, April 2007
Ramon Hamilton- Creative Writing
Steve Ono- Guitar