Lee University senior English major Olivia Webb has authored a creative writing course that she is now teaching to inmates in Bradley County Jail. Webb’s course covers topics such as character …
Lee University senior English major Olivia Webb has authored a creative writing course that she is now teaching to inmates in Bradley County Jail. Webb’s course covers topics such as character development, literary devices, and story structure.
“The course has inspired many of us to use a part of our brains that had been collecting cob webs for years,” said an inmate taking the course.
Webb, a native of Knoxville, began teaching the course in fall 2017 to a small group of women within the jail. She now teaches over 50 male and female inmates.
“My goal was to provide an emotional outlet for the inmates through creative writing,” said Webb. “I wanted to apply my passion for writing to help others and incarcerated persons are an often ignored group. Through the relationships I have built there, the course has grown to be something I benefit from as much as the inmates.”
In addition to the creative writing lessons, Webb also provides spelling and grammar worksheets to inmates as needed. Inmates in the course range from those who have college experience to those who only have an eighth grade education or cannot read or write at all.
According to Webb, she works to make sure all participants are challenged and able to get something out of the course. She opens the first lesson with a quote by E.B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web, saying “I admire anyone who has the guts to write anything at all.”
“Creative writing is something I enjoy every week,” said another inmate. “It improves my thinking and helps me with my education.”
Webb hopes to continue the course at Bradley County Jail for as long as she is in the area. She has named her collective efforts “Webb Writing Company” and plans to continue teaching incarcerated persons wherever she is living after graduation.
Webb’s teaching is completely volunteered and supported by donations.
To learn how to support Webb Writing Company and the course at Bradley County Jail, and to read works by inmates, visit https://www.facebook.com/Webb-Writing-Company-389963738110185/.
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