In 2011, Free Minds began a series of Volunteer Write Nights in which members of the Washington community come together for an evening of poetry, food, and friends. In the months since the first Write Night, the event has grown exponentially, reaching new people across the metro area.

Write Night is held on the fourth Tuesday of every month, and it is open to any interested parties. At the event, Free Minds staff, members, and volunteers meet, mingle, read poetry, and write feedback for the poets. All of the poetry at Write Night is from Free Minds members who are currently incarcerated in DC or in federal prisons scattered across the country. Because many of them are far from home, they have little contact with their friends and families in DC. For them, receiving feedback in the mail is a huge boon and a powerful demonstration that they have a supportive community waiting for them when they return home.

One young poet, Derrick, wrote to Free Minds to express his gratitude after he read the comments volunteers wrote on one of his poems. “I would like to thank all the people that showed love to my poems. I didn’t know that they were that appreciated. Thanks for the motivation I’ll keep ’em coming just for y’all no question!”

Write Night Volunteers

Volunteers at Write Night reading poems and writing feedback for Free Minds poets.

Volunteers are encouraged to get creative with their responses. Some of the more artistic people decorate the poems with brightly-colored drawings, while others even write poems in response!

At a recent Write Night, one volunteer was inspired by a young man’s essay on falling in love. She wrote, “This is the stuff of life—contemplating love, experiencing it & contemplating it once more. This is a beautiful piece of writing! I hope you will always hold onto it & read it again as you go through! Bravo!” Another volunteer called his time at Write Night “one of the most fulfilling experiences of my adult life.”

New faces are always welcome! If you are interested in participating in volunteer Write Night, please email us at mail@freemindsbookclub.org.

Anyone can get involved. Even if you are unable to attend any of our Write Night events, there are other ways to help:

  • Comment on our blog. Our members’ writing is posted weekly on our blog and your positive comments make a difference. Your feedback is printed out and mailed directly to the authors.
  • Donate to support a book club member. In order to run our book clubs we must provide the members with books and, for our Books Across the Miles! members, mail them books, the Connect, and your feedback. If you’d like to contribute to help Free Minds provide our members with the joy of books, please click here.
  • Organize a book drive, or order from our Amazon.com wishlist. Contact us at mail@freemindsbookclub.org if you would like more information.

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