Chatham News

Judith Tannenbaum to Read at Chatham University for Words Without Walls Reading Series

PITTSBURGH:  Judith Tannenbaum will read on Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm in the Welker Room on the campus of Chatham University.  The reading is part of the Words Without Walls reading series. It is free, open to the public, and a book signing and reception will follow the reading.

Judith Tannenbaum has taught poetry in a wide variety of settings from primary school classrooms to maximum security prisons. She taught at San Quentin for four years in the 1980s and subsequently created Arts in Corrections’ newsletter Memo: Arts and their Manual for Artists Working in Prison. This work led to two of her books — Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin and a two person memoir, written with San Quentin student Spoon Jackson, By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives.

She has worked in dozens of prisons and prison arts programs nationally, was part of the Blue Mountain group of prison arts activists, and has done a great deal of writing on these subjects. In addition to the two prison memoirs and her many books of poetry, Tannenbaum has two texts for teachers: Teeth, Wiggly as Earthquakes: Writing Poetry in the Primary Grades and Jump Write In! Creative Writing Exercises for Diverse Communities, Grades 6-12. Tannenbaum has served as training coordinator for San Francisco WritersCorps from the program’s inception in 1994. There’s a great deal of information on both teaching arts and prison arts on her website

Praise for Disguised as a Poem:

“Tannenbaum reminds readers not only that men and women behind bars are human, and therefore deserving of our respect and compassion, but that they have much to tell us about our propensity for both barbarism and beauty.”—Booklist

Funding for the Words Without Walls reading series is provided by A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation and Chatham University.

About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing Program
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program consists of both an on-the-ground full-residency program and a low-residency, online program with concentrations in travel writing, teaching, publishing, or nature writing in addition to a primary genre focus (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or children’s writing). The program offers innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. The Words Without Walls program, in which MFA students go into the Allegheny County Jail to teach inmates creative writing, is one of several social outreach programs developed and run by Chatham MFA students that offer transformative experiences for both students and an underserved population. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In 2009, The Writer named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. For more information, visit