Life Lines

Writings from Vermont’s incarcerated women tell their first-person accounts of addiction and mental illness within the prison setting, thus highlighting the challenges these women face in moving forward with their lives. The book offers discussion guides to encourage community involvement in understanding and acting upon issues raised, thus serving a dual educational and advocacy role.


“Here is another remarkable book from writinginsideVT. It is overflowing with the creativity and voices of the most invisible women in our society: women in prison. Despite the sadness, fear, pain, and loss that they convey, their written words are a testament to the resilience of women’s spirit.”
—Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D., Co-director, Center for Gender and Justice, La Jolla, CA

“In the pages of Life Lines, these women are not inmates, they are writers. Though so often describing how the system – and sometimes one’s own regrets – can reduce a whole human to ‘a chocolate drop so small/not even a butterfly can taste it,’ readers will surely experience the inverse: expansive, full-bodied, unique, necessary voices. Women who, as Whitman said, contain multitudes. This collection is a lyrical movement, built on the tenants of art, education and advocacy. The women in Life Linesbegin to shape a possible future – one that embraces restorative practices over our failing system of punishment. They restore my hope.” —Caits Meissner, Director, Prison and Justice Writing Program, PEN America, NY

“Forty-three years in the justice system, as prosecutor, defense attorney and judge, have taught me that events beyond their control incarcerate women: childhood neglect; sexual, physical and emotional abuse; and their inevitable sequelae – substance abuse and mental health issues. Unaddressed, the feelings from these traumatic events will only fester, cause more pain, then recidivism. Art and writing have repeatedly proven to be a powerful and curative outlet for these feelings. Writing gives them voice when no one speaks for them; empowers them to cast away the pain, anger and emotional restraints; and allows us to know their feelings inside, getting out, and outside. Their expression, and our acceptance of it, give life to the ‘restoration’ in restorative justice. Read these poems and understand the pain, fear, and anger that is at their heart.” —Hon. Joseph H. Field, Active Retired Judge, Maine District Court

“The criminal justice system spends a great deal of time trying to establish the ‘otherness’ of people. Yet, every person has a story to tell. These writings show our common humanity and the need to hear all voices.” —Robert L. Sand, Director, Center for Justice Reform, VT Law School; former Windsor County State’s Attorney

“Expression and voice are so important to hear from those incarcerated in our Vermont prisons. This book celebrates the vital minds and hearts of those we often do not hear.”
—Bess O’Brien, director of award-winning documentaries Coming Home(about re-entry from prison) and The Hungry Heart(about addiction recovery), Kingdom County Productions, VT

Life Lines: Re-Writing Lives from Inside Outis a must-read for those interested in the psychological dynamics of women’s incarceration and reentry, as seen from the inside out. Fruit of a ten-year writing program writinginsideVT has been held in Vermont’s only prison for women, these poems beautifully capture the experience of incarcerated women trying to make sense of their past choices and daring to make new ones. Difficult, often brutally honest, funny, remorseful, grief-stricken, defiant, self-accusing, and self-affirming, these poems explore the devastating hold of their addictions, the cycling nature of their incarceration, and the very real costs not only to themselves but to their families and other victims. The editors, Bianca Viñas, Sarah W. Bartlett, and Kassie Tibbott, have organized the book effectively around the themes of voice, loss, creativity, new patterns, and hope, themes beautifully illustrated by Meg Reynolds.” —Heather Tosteson, Ph.D. Publisher, Wising Up Press, GA; Co-Director, The Lasting Weight of Felony Listening Project

About the Editors/Illustrator
Sarah W. Bartlett  |   Sarah’s work has appeared in Adanna, Ars Medica, the Aurorean, Chrysalis, Minerva Rising, Mom Egg Review, PoemMemoirStory, Women’s Review of Books; anthologies including the award-winning Women on Poetry, McFarland & Co. Inc., 2012; and two poetry chapbooks (Finishing Line Press 2011 and 2017). Her work celebrates nature’s healing wisdom and the human spirit’s landscapes. She is the founding co-director of writinginsideVT to encourage personal and social change through a supportive community within Vermont’s sole women’s prison.

Bianca Viñas is an MFA candidate in the Writing & Publishing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has been working with writinginsideVT and this anthology since moving to Vermont two years ago. Bianca is currently completing her first novel, a hybrid work of poetry, medical research, and narrative prose.

Kassie Tibbott  |  Kassie’s work is dedicated to empowering others through education and community building. Kassie started volunteering with incarcerated women in 2016, as a part of the SPEAK Debate Prison Initiative. Later she joined writinginsideVT and hosted discussion groups and voter registration drives at other correctional facilities. She believes that in order to reduce recidivism it’s important to help individuals find their own voice, rather than speak for them. This is where her passion and the production of this book intersect. Kassie is an Expungement Research Fellow for the Center for Justice Reform at Vermont Law School and the Coordinator of the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC), the State of Vermont’s public law library located in South Royalton.

Meg Reynolds is a poet, artist, and teacher living in Burlington, VT. Her work has appeared in The Missing Slate, Mid-American Review, Fugue, Utterance, Inverted Syntax, and the anthology “Monster Verse: Poems Human and Inhuman” as well as “The Book of Donuts” and “With You: Withdrawn Poems of the #MeToo Movement.” She is a long-time facilitator and co-director of writinginsideVT.

Life Lines: Re-Writing Lives from Inside Out
Writings from Vermont’s incarcerated women
POETRY  |  Paperback Original
178 pages; 6 x 9 / Softcover
ISBN: 978-1-9505841-7-8
Pub Date: August 6, 2019
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights contact: Dede Cummings 

Distributor: IPG; also available through Ingram, Follett/Baker & Taylor, and other wholesalers.

Individuals can pre-order directly from,, online, or contact your local, independent bookstore.

Booksellers, libraries, colleges/universities, gift shops, etc., can order directly through IPG:
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741
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