Gloria Kempton teaches writing in the Monroe Correctional Complex. “The first time I walked in nearly twenty years ago was terrifying. The prisoners introduced themselves by their crimes, like triple homicide. But I learned they are human beings, and I’m no longer scared of them.”
On Monday, Kempton visited the Edmonds Library to discuss her book ‘The Outlaw’s Journey’ on the role of rebels in real life, a role that could be positive. Kempton cited the Warrior archetype, who trades his ethical standards to protect something important. That action could be used for good. “The Outlaw in literature – or in ‘Star Wars’ – challenges the Hero, who must overcome adversity and childhood wounds, and integrate them until his life becomes a sacred and honorable journey.” The Outlaw’s course is to follow a Higher Law, one that is above society’s rules. But the shadow side – something everyone has – must be dealt with, or else it will cause tragedy.
Kempton’s star pupil is a convicted sex offender who wrote about his Outlaw status. He gave her a letter that said writing helped him accept treatment, build confidence, and become a better man. He has now finished technical school, and is married with a baby on the way.
“Teaching writing in prison,” said Kempton, “is changing lives.”
The writing class in Monroe even sparked one officer to ask: “The prison inmates – they’re the heroes?” According to Kempton, the answer is yes.
– Janette Turner