Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Local inmate takes second place in PEN American Center's Prison Writing Contest"

She participated in the creative writing course led by students from Chatham University

By Jacqueline Feldman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A Chatham University program to foster creative expression at the Allegheny County Jail has discovered a talented writer.

In March, inmate Lynne Schaffer-Agnew of Shadyside received second place in the fiction category of the PEN American Center's Prison Writing Contest for her short story "Sabrina," about an inmate who dies of heroin withdrawal.

Ms. Schaffer-Agnew, who was recently transferred to Cambridge Springs women's prison, is serving a nine-to-20-year sentence for aggravated assault and attempted homicide of her husband.

For eight weeks of her sentence at the Allegheny County Jail, she participated in a creative writing course led by students in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Chatham. 

"She's one of the most talented writers I've come across," said Sarah Shotland, one of Ms. Schaffer-Agnew's teachers, a Chatham MFA student and the graduate coordinator for the program, Words Without Walls.

Homewood fiction writer Sandra Gould Ford started the program, teaching writing at the jail for five years before retiring to leave Words Without Walls with Ms. Shotland and her classmates last spring. The MFA students took it on feeling there should be more to their degree than "art for art's sake."

...read the entire article at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.