I am reading a book called “The Alchemist” By Paulo Coelho. A truly inspirational piece of literature that has made me reflect inside myself on an extremely profound level.

While reading it last night, I thought “This man, Mr. Coelho, has something profound in this text, he has something good to give to the world. What if he could come here and talk to us?” Then, in an ironic twist, I thought “Why would any author want to waste their time in some podunk town in rural Washington where the predominant theme is prison and bigotry? (This is ironic because “The Alchemist” is largely about the pursuit of dreams and the seemingly impossible. So it is ironic that something so beneficial I immediately negated…)

But in my questioning, I also posed the question of how to make us a place worth visiting? My answer, a writing contest. This would be closed to inmates only, we could theme it to be inspirational, self-help. There are endless angles you could go from there. Do one contest of only poetry, one of short stories etc. The hope is that this would inspire a creative writing class and then we could inspire authors to come see us??

This would be beneficial on so many levels. Writing is a powerful tool for mankind, consider The Bible or Romeo & Juliet. It is capable of inspiring and guiding people into life’s secrets and lessons. People can use writing to inspire change in others. Consider song writers…

We can learn when people speak our language. For some, that language is unique to them and only a few people speak it. I know men and women who have been impacted drastically by a few potent sentences. A few potent words prevented countless tragedies. Only God knows.

So I am going to work on this for this prison. I hope it reaches far beyond these walls and maybe one day I can hold a writing contest open to all authors. Maybe inspire our next Maya Angelou or Fred Hampton.

I’m going to change the world and I am going to do it by inspiring you. That’s the hope anyway. Maybe you call me foolish or a dreamer, but I made the mistake of giving up more then once before and I won’t do it again. Here’s hoping to make someone proud of me, even if I don’t know you.

With Love
Jeff Utnage