Books: Criminally Good; Paul McGurk Is Touched by This Story of an Author's Experiences Teaching Writing to Juvenile Offenders
Byline: Paul McGurk
TRUE Notebooks is an account of the author's time spent teaching creative writing to juvenile offenders in prison.
The true story of a sensitive man giving violent criminals encouragement and a free hand to produce startling and occasionally moving pieces of work, the book could have foundered on any number of cliches,but Salzman's honest,light touch keeps it brilliantly afloat.
Salzman was initially reluctant to join the Inside Out writing programme at Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles in the late 1990s, as his diary entries show. ``Feel unqualified to evaluate poems about AK47s'',``Still angry about getting mugged in 1978" and ``The cliche problem: ``white guy with everything going for him telling darks kinned kids that art matters'', he notes with endearing candour.
But he quickly overcomes his squeamishness when he encounters the boys in his class and his amazement and wonder at some of his students' work is evident.
Some of the prisoners -all of whom are under 21 -are awaiting trial for murder and many of them are unlikely to taste freedom again under the US justice system. …