Using Our Outside Voices

PLEASE NOTE:  This project has been deferred to 2024.  Exact dates are yet to be determined, but they will be very close to the dates for 2023.  Until then, submissions for the 2024 publication may be sent at any time using the process described below. 

What’s it about?

Using Our Outside Voices is a partnership between Second Street Second Chances, Inc. (2nd Street) and Berkshire Community College that will result in the publication of a collection of poetry, short fiction, and other literary work by presently or formerly incarcerated individuals in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Using Our Outside Voices is a companion initiative to Insight Out that will result in a juried exhibition of visual art at Berkshire Museum and Hear Me Out, engaging presently or formerly incarcerated individuals in the creation of a live, full-length show integrating real-life stories, music, and movement.  The book launch for Using Our Outside Voices, the exhibition of Insight Out, and the performances of Hear Me Out will take place in September, 2023.

Who qualifies?

Any presently or formerly incarcerated resident of Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

How Do I Submit My Work?

Presently or formerly incarcerated individuals are invited to submit their poetry, short fiction, personal essays, and other literary forms for publication in the inaugural issue of Using Our Outside Voices.

We ask that submissions be typed and that they do not exceed 12 pages, double spaced (other than poetry).  Multiple submissions are welcome.

Although works can be published anonymously, the submission should include a short bio of the author, not to exceed approximately 150 words, as well as the best phone number to reach you.

Submissions should be sent to [email protected].  Please include the word “submission” in the title of your email.  Submissions should be sent both as an attachment and pasted into the body of your email.  Please start a new email for each submission sent.

If you have trouble meeting any of those requirements, please contact us.  If you need help submitting your work, stop by 2nd Street at 264 Second Street, Pittsfield, MA, and we will help you.

The deadline for submission is June 9, 2023.  Submitters will be notified by June 21, 2023.  Authors will need to be available for the next few weeks to work with the team on edits to their submissions.

We appreciate the opportunity to read your work!

    Will my work be published?

    Decisions about which works are included will be made by a team led by a Project Manager/Lead Editor from Berkshire Community College who oversees the publication of the student literary journal Zine. The team will also include at least one formerly incarcerated individual and at least two students from Berkshire Community College – the former to bring an essential perspective and the latter to provide exposure to the process as part of their education.

    Authors whose work is included in the journal will receive a cash award of $200 and five copies of the journal.  It is hoped that they will participate in public readings starting in September 2023.

    Once published, Second Street Second Chances, Inc., shall be deemed to have acquired a non-exclusive right to use the work for any purpose in the future.

    What happens to the journal once it’s published?

    The initial run of 400 printed copies will be distributed, at no cost, at events and to facilities and audiences where they are likely to be seen and read.  Digital copies will be available online. There will be readings by authors at various venues to further deepen engagement with the community. In appreciation of financial support of Using Our Outside Voices, 2nd Street will provide Berkshire United Way with 100 printed copies of the publication for distribution. 


    With Gratitude

    2nd Street acknowledges with gratitude the financial and in-kind support of this project provided by:

    • Berkshire Community College
    • Berkshire United Way
    • Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Arts Build Community initiative with funding from the Barr Foundation