Featured Speakers

Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She earned her BA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Harjo draws on First Nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and her work frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values. Her books include Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015), Crazy Brave (2012), and How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975–2002 (2004). She was named U.S. poet laureate in June 2019, and will be the first Native American to hold the position.

Lisa M. Corrigan

Lisa M. Corrigan, associate professor of communications, director of the Gender Studies Program and affiliate faculty in both African and African-American studies and Latin American studies at the University of Arkansas. She is the author of the award-winning book Prison Power: How Prison Influenced the Movement for Black Liberation (UP Mississippi, 2016) and the forthcoming Black Feelings: Race and Affect in the Long Sixties (UP Mississippi, 2020). Lisa also co-runs the very popular Lean Back: Critical Feminist Conversations podcast, available on iTunes and elsewhere (https://leanbackpodcast.com/). 

Geffrey Davis

Geffrey Davis is an American poet and professor. is the author of Night Angler(BOA Editions), winner of the 2018 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Revising the Storm ​(BOA Editions), winner of the 2013 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. He also coauthored the chapbook Begotten (URB Books, 2016) with LA-based poet F. Douglas Brown. His words have appeared in Crazyhorse​, ​Massachusetts ReviewMississippi ReviewNew England Review, ​New York Times MagazineThe New YorkerPBS NewsHourPloughsharesPoetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Named a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Davis has received the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, and the Wabash Prize for Poetry, as well as fellowships from Bread Loaf, Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. He was also awarded a Public Engagement Fellowship from the Whiting Foundation for his work with The Prison Story Project.

​A native of the Pacific Northwest, Davis lives with his family in Fayetteville, AR. He teaches at the University of Arkansas and with The Rainier Writing Workshop, Pacific Lutheran’s low-residency MFA program. Davis also serves as poetry editor for Iron Horse Literary Review.

Plenary on Prison Education



Katie Owens-Murphy is Associate Professor of English at the University of North Alabama. She is a facilitator and state coordinator for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program as well as a facilitator for an expressive writing program called “The IF Project.” She is co-founder and board member of a small 501c3 reentry program, “Shoals Reentry,” which cultivates community partnerships in order to assist the formerly incarcerated in her area. Katie is also an advisory board member for the only resident-generated nonprofit on death row in the nation, “Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty,” which operates from Holman Correctional Facility in Alabama. She is currently working with the group to edit a collection of their writings, On Wings of Hope: Voices from Alabama’s Death Row, which is under advance contract with Vanderbilt University Press.



Kathy McGregor is the founder and project director of the Prison Story Project, a storytelling project that benefits incarcerated women and men. Since 2011 inmates have been exploring their truths though poetry, creative writing, literature, song-writing and visual art. 

The writing of inmates is curated into a staged reading performed by actors. 

The goal of the www.prisonstoryproject.com is to enable those whose voices have been locked away to tell their stories, allowing communities to witness the humanity of the incarcerated through their own words. 



Dr. Patrick Elliot Alexander is Associate Professor of English and African American Studies and co-founder of the University of Mississippi Prison-to-College Pipeline Program. Dr. Alexander holds a Ph.D. in English from Duke University. A specialist in African American literature, nineteenth-century American literature, and critical prison studies, Dr. Alexander published his first book, From Slave Ship to Supermax: Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Abuse, and the New Neo-Slave Novel, with Temple University Press (2018). Dr. Alexander’s articles on teaching African American literature in prison are published in the Journal of African American History, south: a scholarly journal, and Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service-Learning, and Community Literacy. He has also published several reviews, which appear in American Literature and Obsidian.

Before joining the faculty at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Alexander co-founded and directed Stepping Stones, an award-winning academic enrichment program for imprisoned students based in North Carolina. Through Stepping Stones, he designed and taught five college preparatory seminars in African American literature for imprisoned men at Orange Correctional Center in Hillsborough, North Carolina. As a faculty member at the University of Mississippi, Dr. Alexander has co-founded the Prison-to-College Pipeline Program (PTCPP) with Dr. Otis W. Pickett, Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi College. The PTCPP is a university-community engagement initiative that promotes higher education in prison in response to the ongoing need for increased access to educational opportunities in the state of Mississippi. The PTCPP, winner of the 2018 Humanities Educator Award from the Mississippi Humanities Council, currently offers on-site, humanities-based, for-credit college courses for imprisoned men at Parchman/Mississippi State Penitentiary and for imprisoned women at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.