QUESTION: What was the spark that made you begin writing in prison? When did it occur?

ZACHARY REDFEARNE: A writing workshop by Naropa University was a big motivational booster.

Q: Can you say what authors influenced you? Do you gain benefit from studying their work, or do you feel that your influences come from a different place?

REDFEARNE: Mary Oliver, Marge Piercy, Galway Kinnell. I usually read before each writing session.

Q: What have you learned from writing?

REDFEARNE: That the subconscious mind is very powerful and universal.

Q: Describe your process of writing in prison. What philosophies and thoughts help sustain your drive to write? Are you able to share your work with anyone? What are the most challenging aspects of creating in prison?

REDFEARNE: Writing vents creative and emotional energy. I have one friend here who also writes. We’d both go crazy without it. Finding solitude is most challenging.

Q: Do you feel that writing has become a permanent and necessary feature in your life?


Q: Do you have access to a library? What books are there?

REDFEARNE: Yes, but it has no budget. It is like a book closet of donated books. We do have statewide interlibrary loan now.

Q: Are you able to read and study in prison, or are there major obstacles preventing this?

REDFEARNE: Yes. More time for this now. Outside prison I was too easily distracted.

Q: Do you believe there is a certain type of responsibility for writers who have some connection with incarceration? Do you have themes that you return to?

REDFEARNE: Writing is a process of growing to greater sophistication, self-awareness and health. That is what I value writing about.

Q: Feel free to share anything about your work that is not reflected in the preceding questions and answers.

REDFEARNE: I cannot encourage too strongly the value and desire for writing workshops and mentoring. Critiquing and criticism of quality to a writer are hard to come by here. I really like to hear how others read my work, what they get out of it, what they like or don’t like.