Through our General Project for Community Engagement grant program, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts provides programming that impacts both public safety and public health through creative activities. Since 2009, we have funded quality arts programming in rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities and communities, as well as for underserved and at-risk youth. Some of our partners include the New Hampshire State Prison Family Connections Center’s Camp for Children of Incarcerated Parents, Monadnock Family Services and Genesis Behavioral Health.
Most of us don’t connect art with public safety and public health or even realize how many of our neighbors rely on these services. In New Hampshire, more than 15,000 adults are currently involved in the criminal justice system, from incarceration to parole supervision. Many of these adults eventually return to their families and communities in the state; hopefully, rehabilitative programs will have helped them to build new skills and reduce their chances of recidivism.
Recently, the Arts Council funded a project at the Belknap County House of Corrections, Writing from Within. This poetry writing program was funded through a General Project Grant for Community Engagement in 2015. Seventy inmates at the BCHC participated in four six-week sessions of programming with two poets. They created books of poetry and had a reading inside the jail.
Here is one of their works:
Smoke & Mirrors
Hemotoma, sculpted egos
Pain and love, pins & needles
Finding good inside evils
When the stars work like mistletoe
Dancing with the Devil in her open toes
If you can see my breath but it isn’t cold,
And you can feel my voice but I never spoke,
Then I got you on Fire here with a flame of hope.
If you burnt out tonight where did the ashes float?
On a road paved with good intentions at a downward slope,
There’s always a way with a will and a last result.
Give life a little flavor or fill the wounds with salt.
Go with the tides even if you
Drown you float.
Tyler T.-BCHOC 2015
- Dads and kids create murals together at the NH State Prison Family Connections Center.
- Dads prepare a welcome for the 2015 Children of Incarcerated Parents (CIP) Camp Program.
- A completed mural from the NH State Prison Family Connections Center CIP Camp Program.