This summer inmates at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center were invited to participate in a writing contest coordinated by Heard, a local nonprofit that offers people in need and at-risk individuals the opportunity to be heard through creative expression. Then on August 25, Heard and the Sheriff’s Office held a virtual awards ceremony to announce the winners.
Participants had a month to craft their works for consideration in fiction, non-fiction and poetry categories. Thirteen inmates submitted a total 24 entries for consideration. Mary Wadland, publisher of The Zebra and longtime supporter of the writing contest, historian, genealogist and author Char McCargo Bah, and Wendi Kaplan, former poet laureate of the City of Alexandria, judged the submissions.
Prizes were awarded for the top three entries in each category and during the virtual ceremony, Ms. Bah and Jane Hess Collins, founder and executive director of Heard, read the winning entries. Members of the Sheriff’s Office Inmate Services team later shared a video of the ceremony with the contestants and presented prizes to first, second and third place finalists. Each received a certificate and monetary awards which were added to their canteen accounts to cover personal expenses.
First Place Michael Pixley for “The Claw”
First Place (tie) D. Miller for “Mental Love”
Second Place D. Miller for “The Moment I Fell"
First Place name withheld by request for “Guatamala”
Second Place S. Amir for “Despised and Rejected”
Third Place Peter Le for “Love Letter”
First Place Anthony Talbert for “I Cry”
Second Place William Walsh for “Why Did You Leave”
Third Place S. Amir for “The Most Beautiful Battle”
Sheriff Dana Lawhorne extends his sincere appreciation to Ms. Collins and Heard, to Ms. Wadland, Ms. Bah and Ms. Kaplan, and to Caudron Megary Blackburn Wealth Management Group for sponsoring this year’s writing contest. “We are extremely grateful for Heard’s continued outreach and engagement with those in our custody,” Sheriff Lawhorne said. “Not only does the contest provide them with a creative outlet to express themselves, but it gives them the chance to have their voices carry out into the community and beyond.”
This is the third year that the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office has partnered with Heard which has also organized writing contests for inmates at the Arlington County Detention Facility and offers creative arts expression through 15 program partners in Alexandria and Arlington.
Established in Alexandria in 2017, Heard fosters creativity, confidence, self-worth and life skills to those who are underserved, unknown, and unheard by offering them artistic expression through experiential instruction and participation. Heard provides individuals the opportunity to be heard through art and creativity with workshops in creative writing, visual arts, poetry, dance, etiquette and improvisation.