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Arts in Prison

Arts in Prison

Arlin Buyert, center, is poetry instructor for the Arts in Prison project. JoAnna Ramsey, l, and Lex Cortes, r, are former classmates in the project.

Johnson County Library partners with Kansas City’s The Writers Place on a series of readings: the Thomas Zvi Wilson series. As part of that series, the Arts in Prison project is occasionally scheduled. A February 20 public reading at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center featured participants who read from works produced in the class.

Arts in Prison has been an institution at the Lansing Correctional Facility for more than two decades, and officials behind its poetry program believe it’s helping keep reformed inmates out of jail. “The general recidivism rate in Kansas is around 50 percent. Half the inmates are back within three years,” says Arlin Buyert, the poetry instructor. “But, for whatever reason, inmates who participate in my poetry program have almost no recidivism.” According to Buyert, out of the 15 inmates who have gone through the program and have since been released, only one has returned to prison and that was because of a parole violation.

Poet participants say that poetry has a way of breaking down political barriers in prison and helping to alleviate the heavy burdens of a dark past. “Prison is very segregated, and in poetry you have a mix of different people,” JoAnna Ramsey says. "Getting past prison life is a process and it’s slow, but being able to write helps that along."

“Poetry gives people an opportunity to know they are still people,” Ramsey says. “The great part about America is that we’re a land of second chances, and poetry and art is something that connects us all.” Buyert echoed Ramsey’s sentiments, adding that it’s easy for people outside of prison to forget that those inside are still people. “They’re human. They have worth. They’re poets,” Buyert said.

This post relies on notes published about the reading by reporter Zac Summers in an online article for local Fox affiliate. See his story here.

Arlin Buyert, center, is poetry instructor for the Arts in Prison project. JoAnna Ramsey, l, and Lex Cortes, r, are former classmates in the project.

Johnson County Library partners with Kansas City’s The Writers Place on a series of readings: the Thomas Zvi Wilson series. As part of that series, the Arts in Prison project is occasionally scheduled. A February 20 public reading at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center featured participants who read from works produced in the class.

Arts in Prison has been an institution at... Continue »

Ayah

Meet Your Maker: Ayah

Hi! I’m Johnson County Library’s newest MakerSpace Facilitator. I specialize in A/V production and storytelling, but in the MakerSpace you can find help for all sorts of projects, from bookmaking to building your own computer. I’m sure lots of you are thinking of starting something new, so I thought I’d share some tips for long term project management. Today I’m going to talk about margin, but this is only the first of a four-part series, so you can always check back for more!

I’m no stranger to long term projects. When you write books or feature-length films, it just comes with the territory. The methods we normally use for projects start to fall apart when you’re doing something long term or trying to work towards a bigger picture. When I initially wrote my four principles behind project management, it was aimed at filmmakers, because that was my background. But I’ve found that the lessons I learned earnestly apply to any ambition, and I hope that you’ll find them as useful as I have.

First things first: be sure to overestimate. If you a want to work on anything over an extended period of time, you need room for error. A lot of room for error. I’ve often been told that my projects are ambitious, and they might seem that way from the outside. But in truth, I try as much as I can to overestimate how much time and resources I’ll need for every step. Thing you can get by with a 10,000 budget? Double it. Will you need, say, two weeks to write a proposal? Triple it. And if you think you’ll be able to export that video in ten hours, make it forty.

Margin isn’t just about scheduling time, though. It’s also about archiving what you’re doing, and project security. Back up your assets. If I expect to record 1 or 2 terabytes of video footage, I get a 4 terabyte drive. I back everything up and I have a backup plan for the backup plan. I store my hard drives, equipment, and props carefully, where they won’t be exposed to serious temperature changes or accidental misuse.

This might sounds irrationally cautious, but think of it this way: If some resource or information for your project disappeared, what would be willing to do to get it back? You can do at least that much to prevent yourself from having the problem to begin with. Of course, you can’t care for every aspect of a project with the same level of importance. Decide your priorities ahead of time so that if things don’t go as planned, you know what you’re willing to compromise on, and what things you’re willing to fight for.

Archiving your project not only eases your workflow, it does a favor for your future self. It’s easy to know what all the pieces in a project mean when you’re in the center of the work, but neglecting to record your process is a major loss. Keep your notes, sketches, and mind maps; you can use them for future projects. And most importantly, keep a record of your mistakes and what you learned from them. You will forget. You’re human. You may be steeped in your work now, but once it fades, you know don’t when you’ll get another chance to record that next album or whatever it is you want to do. By recording your mistakes, you save yourself the trouble of having to reinvent the wheel every time. 

Hi! I’m Johnson County Library’s newest MakerSpace Facilitator. I specialize in A/V production and storytelling, but in the MakerSpace you can find help for all sorts of projects, from bookmaking to building your own computer. I’m sure lots of you are thinking of starting something new, so I thought I’d share some tips for long term project management. Today I’m going to talk about margin, but this is only the first of a four-part series, so you can always check back for more!

I’m no stranger to long term projects. When you write books or feature-length films, it just comes with the territory. The methods we normally use for projects start to fall apart when you’re doing something long term or trying to work towards a bigger... Continue »

Big Books

We Like Big Books!

Lots of favorite picture books are available at Antioch Library in extra-large. Big letters make for great reading practice, and kids will love the fun of having their favorite books in a huge new size!

Lots of favorite picture books are available at Antioch Library in extra-large. Big letters make for great reading practice, and kids will love the fun of having their favorite books in a huge new size!

Winsorman

We're Going to Planet Comicon

This weekend marks the opening of Planet Comicon, one of Kansas City’s biggest comic and pop-culture conventions, bringing in a slew of actors, podcasters, writers, artists, and… librarians? Yes, you will find your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff in attendance at the “What Would the X-Men Read?” panel on Saturday, where we will talk about our favorite characters in the X-Men universe alongside writers and artists from the X-Men franchise. Be sure to check out what our staff would think would be on the library checkout list for your favorite characters such as Kitty Pride and Wolverine, Cyclops, and even Magneto. Also be sure to check out some of our staff’s favorite graphic novels – both in the superhero and the non-superhero variety. 

This weekend marks the opening of Planet Comicon, one of Kansas City’s biggest comic and pop-culture conventions, bringing in a slew of actors, podcasters, writers, artists, and… librarians? Yes, you will find your friendly neighborhood Johnson County Library staff in attendance at the “What Would the X-Men Read?” panel on Saturday, where we will talk about our favorite characters in the X-Men universe alongside writers and artists from the X-Men franchise. Be sure to check out what our staff would think would be on the library checkout list for your favorite characters such as... Continue »

Swallow the Leader

Our Favorite February Picture Books

Each month our Youth Librarians gather their favorite new picture books together into a list. These books are great for helping children develop early literacy skills such as rhyming, recognizing shapes, and enjoying reading with their caregivers. Take a peek at our most recent list »

Each month our Youth Librarians gather their favorite new picture books together into a list. These books are great for helping children develop early literacy skills such as rhyming, recognizing shapes, and enjoying reading with their caregivers. Take a peek at our most recent list »

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday

Happy National Boy Scouts Day! Our Throwback Thursday picture today is a 58-year-old picture of Merriam Boy Scout Pack #398.

See more local history at jocohistory.org or follow our hashtag on Twitter.

Happy National Boy Scouts Day! Our Throwback Thursday picture today is a 58-year-old picture of Merriam Boy Scout Pack #398.

See more local history at jocohistory.org or follow our hashtag on Twitter.

Henry Fortunato

Henry Fortunato

Everyone at Johnson County Library is saddened to learn of the passing this week of our esteemed colleague, Henry J. Fortunato, Jr. Henry was the long-time Director of External Affairs for the Kansas City Public Library, and a frequent collaborator with libraries, museums and educational institutions across the region. Henry’s lively intelligence and fierce determination made him a shining light among regional library and humanities professionals, and our work is dimmed by his loss. We will strive always for our efforts to equal his example of courage, conviction and enthusiasm for learning. We offer warmest condolences to Henry’s family and to all who knew and loved him as we did.

Johnson County Library recently collaborated with Henry to produce and distribute bookmarks documenting his seminal work of local history, the Indian Creek Trails History project. These beautiful bookmarks are still available at Central Resource Library.

Everyone at Johnson County Library is saddened to learn of the passing this week of our esteemed colleague, Henry J. Fortunato, Jr. Henry was the long-time Director of External Affairs for the Kansas City Public Library, and a frequent collaborator with libraries, museums and educational institutions across the region. Henry’s lively intelligence and fierce determination made him a shining light among regional library and humanities professionals, and our work is dimmed by his loss. We will strive always for our efforts to equal his example of courage, conviction and enthusiasm for learning. We offer warmest condolences to Henry’s family and to all who knew and loved him as we did.

Johnson County Library recently collaborated... Continue »

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