How to Write from Prison (Part IV)

“You want to be a journalist, my son?” said my late father, himself a journalist on the now-defunct Montreal Star, when I announced at a very young age my intentions to follow in his footsteps.

By Colin McGregor

“To write, he said, “You have to suffer.”

When I started writing from prison for the Journal de la Rue, the umbrella organization that operates Reflet de Société and The Social Eyes, I took inspiration from National Public Radio and ICI Radio Canada, as well as a few magazines. I would add things I picked up from these broadcasts and publications into my articles, always with attribution. I also used my experiences as a literacy tutor. There were, and are, a lot of success stories of people who learned to read and write while incarcerated. And my own education in administration and philosophy proved more useful than I could have ever imagined through the long years I have spent in suspended animation.

My fervent wish throughout all this was to never cause pain to others the way I had when I committed my crime. My aim was to encourage people to not repeat my errors. My focus was on serving the community I had so damaged.

Sent out by mail, my texts were revised by Café Graffiti’s editing committee, located in the heart of beautiful, complex Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. That’s where the team that prepares all their publications, including the book publisher Éditions TNT, resides.

I continue my one-man writing therapy. It’s journalism that gives my publications direction and sense. It’s journalism done differently, with the support of several powerful, intelligent and dignified women, ready to take their rightful spot in the marketplace of ideas.

Some of those ideas spring forth from the land of shadows, my port of call.   

First seen in: Reflet de Société, Vol. 27, no. 2, printemps (spring) 2019, pages 26-27.

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