Shelf Life – June 13
|
Bookmark and Share
Jun 13, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Shelf Life – June 13

Stratford Gazette

Shakespeare Saved My Life : Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

by Laura Bates

@SPL: 822.33 D-B

Is Shakespeare still relevant? Professor Laura Bates and convict Larry Newton would both answer a  resounding yes. In this powerful book, Bates discusses her years of teaching Shakespeare in prisons, a program that drew Newton out of his years of silence in solitary confinement.

At first, Bates wasn’t sure that she could work with Newton. At 17, he murdered another young man, and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. But he responded immediately to the excerpt Bates shared with those interested in the program: Richard II's speech beginning “I have been studying how I may compare / this prison where I live unto the world.” Shakespeare clicked with Newton, and he became her star pupil, and the focus of this book.

Bates not only discusses Shakespeare, she also examines the American prison system. The interaction of the details of daily life in prison with the words of Shakespeare is powerful. Newton draws stark and direct links between the mistakes he and other prisoners have made and the psychological insights in Shakespeare. His life changes with this new focus, and he becomes acknowledged as the local expert, sharing teaching duties. As he writes in the introduction to The Prisoner's Guide to the Complete Works of Shakespeare (a workbook that Bates is trying to have published):

“What I can tell you is that ANY serious reader of Shakespeare is going to experience an evolution! ...It is not Shakespeare's offering that invokes this evolution. The secret, the magic, is YOU! Shakespeare has created an environment that allows for genuine development.”

In the examples Bates shares, the idea that Shakespeare can change lives is made real. As prisoners confirm when she asks, reading Shakespeare has literally saved lives, as students have become more self-aware. And it has also saved the wasted lives of those like Newton, giving them new purpose, focus, and understanding. To read this book is to believe that literature can change lives.

– Melanie Kindrachuk, librarian

|
Bookmark and Share

(0) Comment

Join The Conversation Sign Up Login

Latest Local News

News

Elma class teaches inclusion with new Buddy Benches

NEWRY - A class of Grade 6 and 7 students have left their mark at Elma Public School, and has...

Snapshot

News

Monkton family overwhelmed by support at CF fundraiser

MONKTON – When Sharon Hudson began planning a fundraiser for her son Cory and others suffering from...

Snapshot

News

Local women needed for new North Perth fundraising team

NORTH PERTH – A local committee is looking for a few good women, who in turn want to do a whole lot...

Snapshot

News

Habitat for Humanity project moves ahead with groundbreaking

LISTOWEL – After many months of planning, fundraising and meetings, the new Habitat for Humanity...

Snapshot

In Your Neighbourhood Today

SPONSORED CONTENT View More