On Monday, April 27 at 3:30 PM and also at 3:30 PM on Thursday, April 30, the Woods Hole Public Library will host two discussions about the book Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, by Laura Bates, Ph.D. The discussions will be led by Prosser Gifford, President of the Library’s Board of Trustees, and Robert Pelletreau, retired to Woods Hole, and also on the Library’s Board of Trustees, presently serving as Vice President.
The Falmouth Reads Together Committee selected Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates, Ph.D., as the town wide reading selection for 2015. These two discussions, scheduled to provide time-of-day options for readers, will be the last in the series before Dr. Bates comes to town. She will speak about the book and her experiences in Falmouth on May 2, 10 AM in the Hermann Room of the Falmouth Public Library.
An English professor at Indiana State University, Dr. Bates has spent more than 25 years teaching prisoners. In the book, Dr. Bates tells of her teaching in prisons as well as the tale of prisoner Larry Newton’s path to Shakespeare. Newton, who was convicted of murder, spent more than 10 years in solitary for 23 hours a day, for a variety of crimes, including attempted escape and stabbing a prison guard.
“His transformation is such a remarkable one. It’s a testimony to the power of education, the power of literature,” she said. “That’s something all faculty experience on some level in that we’re changing our students’ lives. Larry’s story validates what we’re doing, whether we’re on campus or in prison.”
In choosing this text, the Falmouth Reads Together Committee hoped that readers would better understand the full power of Shakespeare’s works and the role of restorative justice in our prisons system. “Bates doesn’t sugar-coat the experience of prison nor the crimes committed by her students; she clearly illustrates how prisoners drew parallels between their own choices—and their consequences—and those of Shakespeare’s more violent characters, such as Macbeth,” explained committee chair Jayne Lafrate.
Bob and Pross will lead both the groups together adding their two points of view. The discussion will focus on the book itself rather than any additional reading of Shakespeare. All participants are encouraged to read the book beforehand. Many copies of Shakespeare Saved My Life: ten years in solitary with the bard are available for check-out at every library branch in Falmouth, as well as several e-copies.
Any questions may be directed to the Woods Hole Library at 508-548-8961.