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Margo Perin collaborating with Community Works

Award: $35,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in 2004

Completed: 2006

Margo Perin and Community Works collaborated to create Only the Dead Can Kill, a book, CD, and web page featuring autobiographical stories created by Perin and inmates in San Francisco County Jail. With Perin as artist-facilitator, inmates wrote about their experiences of childhood, parenting, physical and substance abuse, and criminality. Perin wrote on the same elements in her own life story.

The stories became part of a professionally designed and printed book BS accompanying CD that includes oral selections from the book, as read by Perin and the inmates. A companion web site also incorporated audio material.

A Pushcart Prize nominee and award-winning author of short fiction and narrative nonfiction, Margo Perin is part-author and editor of How I Learned to Cook and Other Writings on Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004). Perin also has published short fiction and narrative nonfiction in an array of journals. The project was inspired by Perin’s previous work with inmates and ex-offenders, as well as her own experiences with the criminality of her father, who was jailed several times and kept her family on the run during her childhood.

For over 20 years, Community Works has been dedicated to using the arts and education as a catalyst for change among underserved populations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including offenders, ex-offenders, and at-risk youth.  Community Works has received a number of prestigious awards including the 1999 New American Community Award from the National Center for Crime and Delinquency and a 2004 Special Commendation from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for ROOTS, an after-school program for children of incarcerated parents.

Photo credit: Chris Stuart