Cornell University: Students, formerly incarcerated people publish book of creative works

A performing and media arts class composed of Cornell students and formerly incarcerated people has produced a book of their writings, exploring their own stories and their discoveries about each other.

“Moments Before the Silence” contains poems, artwork, devised theater pieces and essays from the class, Performing RE-Entry, which met in the fall semester, with students and Professor Bruce Levitt working to finish the book this semester.

“This process is about learning how to tell your story and to be confident in that story,” Levitt said. “When you teach a class like this, you have to be prepared to live in the mess. It’s not a neat process or a highly structured process and the outcomes aren’t evident in the beginning.”

The class was created and held for the first time in the fall of 2020 as a way for students and formerly incarcerated people to interact with and learn from each other as they participate in the creative process. That first class produced a film, “Confinements” which was shown in April 2021.