The Central Park Five

GPEP-RAs-SP13I’ve been lucky this semester to teach in the Goucher Prison Education Program.  I’m not allowed to write about my experiences yet, as anything that I post has to be approved first by the Prison Information Officer.  But I can say out loud that this has been an amazing, life-changing, experience. I can also write about the amazing Central Park Five screening that took place at the prison on May 1.  Well, I can’t write about it except to say that it happened:  Sarah Burns and David McMahon (the producers/directors, along with Ken Burns, of the documentary)  screened The Central Park Five at the men’s prison in Jessup.  They brought along two members of the Central Park Five, Korey and Raymond, and spent two hours fielding questions from my students.  The only thing I can write about the experience is what was made public by the filmmakers after the event:  my  incarcerated students were insightful and thoughtful and brought up questions that had never been raised before during the hundreds of screenings.

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Book Launches and Politics

In politics, we have house parties.  These are small events where the candidate shakes hands personally, answers questions and thanks people for their support.  I’ve been involved in politics all my life; ever since I could talk, I’ve asked people to please vote for my dad, or Ken Spaulding (the campaign where I met my husband), or Bill Clinton, or Steve Lafferty, my all-time favorite politician.  So, when it came time to promote my own book (I never realized how shy this would make me), I fell into the house party model.  I’ve had two book launches so far, each with about 50-60 people.  Goucher College, where I work, sponsored a reading, and my friend Julia, who designed the stunning cover of The Art of Work and who has the most beautiful house in the world, hosted another.  I like the intimacy, and the controlled, supportive environment.  I’m hoping that the model works in general, because the events are fun and inspiring.  I’ve got a couple more Baltimore events planned – one at my synagogue, and one in the neighborhood.  I had thought about having one giant one for all Baltimore, but I like the folksy way this is playing out.  We provide good food, and I read for a few minutes.  At both events, the books have sold out. The events are quiet, like me, but I hope they will have a big impact.


Hello world!

Welcome to the Poliakoff-Chen site. I love to write, but am new to the idea of blogging.