Iowa Writes

What do you see?

As you look at the portrait I would ask you, what do you see? Do you know I am a convicted felon serving time at ICIW? Or do you see a young black woman in search of Freedom? I am both. I don't want to be remembered as #11502587, I want to be known as Black Star Child with a poetic voice and an immaculate way with words. I don't want to be seen as just a display, like a memorial for the most prized thing that I have lost, "freedom," because we as people are often held prisoner without having to live inside a gate. We are held prisoner from our thoughts, our feelings, our usefulness, and most of all inside ourselves, knowing that we will be judged. Me, I would rather be judged than considered nonexistent. So as you gaze at my portrait, know that there is life behind those eyes and laughter behind those lips. Know that we all fight for something whether it's sanity, peace, love or forgiveness. We're all fighting; we are all warriors.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Monsheeka W was a prisoner at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women when she wrote this piece, which was read during a public performance in Shambaugh Auditorium by the Women in Exile Project.

The Women in Exile Project is a collaboration between the women at the Iowa correctional Institute for Women, volunteers from the Women's Resource and Action Center, the Women's Archive at the University of Iowa Libraries and the Art Education Department at the University of Iowa. The project has worked with a select group of women at ICIW to publish a series of memoirs and images. The memoirs will become a part of the Women's Archive and the images part of a permanent collection located at the Women's Resource and Action Center.

UI Change Project Blog

This page was first displayed
on February 23, 2011

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