ANN ARBOR—Michigan Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, recently awarded $8,275 to The Prison Creative Arts Project Writing Program. The program strives to build a community of writers that transcends prison walls and recognizes the value of disenfranchised voices.

Humanities grants award up to $15,000 per project to Michigan nonprofits working to support cultural, educational, and community-based public programming with a humanities element. 

"We are pleased to have had more submissions than ever before and look forward to seeing the projects come to fruition," said Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, Michigan Humanities President & CEO. The public humanities programs involved are exciting."

The award will support the cost of project supplies, image licensing, publication costs, compensation for editorial staff, and speaker honoraria for public events.

"This grant will help us sustain and grow our writing program, which includes our annual literary review, our creative writing workshops, and readings and publications by writers who have come home from prison," said PCAP's director Nora Krinitsky. "Creative writing is a vital way for incarcerated people to make their voices heard beyond prison walls. Hearing and lifting up those voices is critical to the larger project of social justice in our state." 

Phil Christman serves as editor of Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing, which showcases the talent and diversity of Michigan's incarcerated writers. This grant will also allow PCAP to compensate Christman for the first time since he became the editor in 2013.

"I've been doing this work all along because I believe in the work our writers are doing. So it's good to see that others believe in it as well," he said.  

Through creative writing workshops, literary reviews, and public programs, PCAP provides opportunities for incarcerated writers to grow their creative practice, develop their self-editing skills, and make their voices heard by a broader public. One of the goals is to draw critical attention to the human experience of incarceration.

"An incarcerated individual who can write confidently and self-edit becomes a better self-advocate and disrupts the prison system's assumptions about who can and should speak," said Christman.