“Every night that I’ve been at the facility, I had practiced how to explain to my family what had happened. Two weeks ago, a guard sat me down and Counselor Susan explained that this was my last chance to make my case before sentencing. Just me in a room—really, a gray box—begging for forgiveness from the victims of my crime: my family."
In the excerpt above, Violetta Chen-Samuels—the fifteen-year-old protagonist of Jennifer Baker’s YA novel Forgive Me Not (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2023)—reckons with the aftereffects of causing a drunk-driving accident that kills her little sister. Forgive Me Not is a searing indictment of the juvenile justice system, in which one incarcerated teen weighs what she is willing to endure for forgiveness.
Join NY Writers Coalition’s Black Writers Program as we host a virtual conversation* between Jennifer Baker and writer Caits Meissner, editor of The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison, and the former director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America. They’ll discuss Forgive Me Not and its themes and will open up for an audience Q&A at the end!
Tuesday, December 12 / 6:30 – 8:00 PM (ET) via Zoom
To learn more about Jennifer Baker, visit: https://www.jennifernbaker.com
To purchase Forgive Me Not, visit NYWC’s affiliate Bookshop link: https://bookshop.org/p/books/forgive-me-not-jennifer-baker/18026338
ABOUT JENNIFER BAKER
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional of 20 years, the creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and a faculty member of the MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at Bay Path University and a writing consultant at Baruch College. Formerly a contributing editor to Electric Literature, she received a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship and a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Her essay “What We Aren’t (or the Ongoing Divide)" was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018. In 2019, she was named Publishers Weekly Superstar for her contributions to inclusion and representation in publishing. Jennifer is also the editor of the all PoC-short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books, 2018) and the author of the YA novel Forgive Me Not (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2023). She has volunteered with organizations such as We Need Diverse Books and I, Too Arts Collective, and spoken widely on topics of inclusion, the craft of writing/editing, podcasting, and the inner-workings of the publishing industry. Her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism has appeared in various print and online publications. Her website is: jennifernbaker.com.
ABOUT CAITS MEISSNER
Caits Meissner is a writer and multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. For over a decade, Meissner collaborated with incarcerated people across the United States as an educator and creative peer. While serving as the former director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America, she edited The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison (Haymarket Books 2021), which the Mellon Foundation funded 75K copies to reach incarcerated readers free of charge. Working on this project propelled Meissner to take the book’s advice, and turn attention to telling her own story. Lately, you can find her in the studio working on secret projects. Her most recent publication is an essay about “acting" as the only non-incarcerated woman in a prison play, included in Simon & Schuster’s anthology SAD HAPPENS on the transformative power of tears, edited by Brandon Stosuy and illustrated by Rose Lazar.