Sheriff Dana Lawhorne, left, presents the third place poetry award to Daryl Torien at the Aug. 16 HEARDS Creative Writing Awards ceremony at the William G. Truesdale Detention Center. With Lawhorn and Torien are Gloria Wright, director of inmate services, and HEARD founder Jane Collins.
Photo by Jeanne Theismann.
For So Many Years
By Daryl Torien
For so many years I believed a lie
That men did not hurt nor did they cry,
I would always cover up what was wrong with me,
My concepts of thinking my morals had changed
They said men did not cry so I covered my pain
I would use anything whatever I could gather
Outside of myself just to feel better
I would try and dress good so people would say
Because of my appearance I must be okay
Now the pain is so strong
Just look at my tears
As they drip through my image
That I’ve carried for years
Like I was strong but truly I was weak
With the false perception that I saw suave and unique
Now for so many years I believed this lie
That men did not hurt nor did they cry
But I am here to report and to state my case
Just look at the tears as they flow down my face
Never hold back your tears. Cry if you should
Because there are so many men that wish that they could.
“I know how much I struggle with putting what I see and hear into words. I admire you all for your gift of writing.” —Sheriff Dana Lawhorne at the Detention Center’s HEARD Creative Writing Awards
Inmates at the William G. Truesdale Detention Center in Alexandria shared their gift of writing Aug. 16 at the first HEARD Creative Writing Contest, with Sheriff Dana Lawhorne presenting awards to the winning entrants.
“I know how much I struggle with putting what I see and hear into words,” said Lawhorne at the awards ceremony. “I admire you all for your gift of writing.”
HEARD describes itself as “an arts program for silent stories.” It is a creative arts program for Alexandria and Arlington nonprofit program partners serving clients who are marginalized in some way. The program partnered with the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office to offer the first creative writing contest for inmates.
“The staff here is always looking to implement productive and useful programs,” Lawhorne said. “They are the ones who make these things happen.”
Dozens of inmates submitted entries in fiction, non-fiction and poetry categories. Awards were announced for first, second and third place entries with some of the winners reading their works to those gathered at the ceremony.
Winners included Nelly Davila, who wrote of a trip to visit her grandparents when she was 5 years old. The family never reached their destination. Instead, a car accident took the lives of her older sister, brother and 10-month-old sister.
“This was difficult to write,” said Davila, who received first place for non-fiction writing. “I still remember that trip. My brother had a premonition before the accident and gave me his toy doggy to remember him by. Believe it or not, I still have it.”
Daryl Torien took third place in the poetry category and read his work titled “For So Many Years.” Other awards included Isaura Garcia, first place fiction; Jacqueline McBride, second place fiction; and Robert McCrickland, second place poetry.
HEARD was founded in 2017 by communications consultant Jane Collins, an Alexandria resident and retired Air Force colonel.
“We offer clients a safe and trust-based environment to express themselves,” Collins said. “Our programs are designed to offer participants creative expression, an opportunity to be heard, recognized and honored, and to build an environment of trust and safety.”
HEARD is a program of the Del Ray Community Partnership nonprofit and is funded privately and through donations. For more information, contact Collins at email@example.com, call or text 703-282-6738.
“These are incredible stories,” Collines said. “These words need to be heard.”