Press Release


by Mary Ellen Sanger
New book relates inside stories from author’s time in a Mexican prison and the women, guilty and innocent, crack addicts, teachers and teen mothers, and their surprising solidarity

The women incarcerated in Ixcotel State Prison in Oaxaca, Mexico, said that the blackbirds chattered in the lone pomegranate tree in our courtyard whenever a woman was about to be released. These are the stories of the women I met while falsely incarcerated there. Many of the women were as innocent as I, others not so. The moments presented here, dark as some are, illuminate my biggest surprise and my only consolation in prison: solidarity. It’s like Berta said…

“Funny how we all come back to sit under this pomegranate tree together every day, every identical day after day, with those identical birds up there dropping on our identical stupid heads. Funny, isn’t it?”

From the introduction by Elena Poniatowska, a friend and Mexico’s most beloved journalist/novelist:

Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree is a life lesson. If they were to throw me in jail, I would like to carry it with me to read each night… On its pages I would find strength and faith in humankind, and I would know that to believe in “the others” is a path to salvation.

PUBLISHED November 7, 2013
246 pages, Create Space
ISBN 9781492957972
List price $16 in local bookstores in Fort Collins and online

Author’s contact info:

About the book:

Mary Ellen Sanger had made her life in Mexico for 17 years when she suddenly found herself in prison in Oaxaca, Mexico, arrested on invented charges. She spent 33 days in Ixcotel State Prison in the fall of 2003. These stories of the women she met there, illuminate her biggest surprise and her only consolation in prison: the solidarity that formed among the women she lived, ate, swept and passed long days with while inside. Nine lyrical tales show the depth of emotions that insist on their own space, even in these harshest of circumstances. Mary Ellen weaves her own tale through the stories. Accused of a crime that doesn’t exist by a powerful man in Mexico, she depends on the fierce solidarity of friends on the outside, and a brilliant lawyer who trusts in the rule of law… even in Mexico.

Mary Ellen Sanger lived in Mexico for 17 years, and has published short stories, creative nonfiction and poetry in Spanish and English in Mexico, the US and online. She led bilingual workshops for New York Writers Coalition for six years, and is currently volunteering with Colorado State University’s Community Literacy Center at the Larimer County Detention Center, where she writes with incarcerated women. Since leaving Mexico, Mary Ellen has been involved as a mentor and member of the fiction and poetry committees for the PEN Prison Writing Project, and as a post-production coordinator for the Emmy award-winning Mexican documentary “Presunto Culpable”
(Presumed Guilty).



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