• "Brussels." Edgz: Conversations on the Borderland. Spring/Summer 2006.
  • "Nocturnal Numbering." Edgz: Conversations on the Borderland.  Spring/Summer 2007.
  • "My Father Taught Me to See Ghosts." Pathways.  2007.
  • Readers Write: Singing. The Sun. March, 2011
  • Winner of the English Journal Writing Award for "Going to Jail: Finding Hospitable Space."


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Judy Patterson Wenzel is an educator and a writer of both poetry and non-fiction. She grew up in Rogers City, Michigan as part of a large and nurturing extended family, the oldest of five children and of thirty-three grandchildren. Halfway through high school, her family moved to a town on the Gulf of St. Lawrence in northeastern Quebec.

Judy returned to the United States for college, attending Alma College and Wayne State University, where she earned a degree in elementary education.

After returning to northeast Michigan and raising four children, Judy went back to school at the University of Michigan to work on a double major in Social Studies and English, as well as certification in secondary education. She did not expect to spend the next 25 years in prison, but is grateful for the opportunity to have known and to teach these students—and for all that her students taught her.

Over the years, Judy has collected enough stories and rich experiences to begin to write a book called Light from the Cage: 25 Years in a Prison Classroom, which she is currently in the process of completing.

She values thoughtful listening, insightful questions, and attempts to put ourselves in other people's shoes. She is passionate about understanding the root causes of violence, racism, and poverty--and any positive efforts to counteract them. Her interest in non-violence both as a strategy and as a philosophy came from working with her prison students as they struggled with the attitudes of the neighborhoods they grew up in; and as they studied the Civil Rights Movements' successes with non-violent tactics.  Judy has participated in non-violence training and continues to be a part of the Meta Peace Team, which provides security for people who feel threatened at public demonstrations and a buffering shield between opposing groups.

Judy has a passionate belief about every person's right to a full life with dignity and value. She believes that everyone should have opportunities to use their gifts to make the world a kinder, more just, and creative place. Her students taught her that our most useful lessons come from our mistakes, and that every person is far more than the worst things we have ever done.

She enjoys adventure travel and meeting people from different cultures, a vigorous hike, cross-country skiing, and being on almost any kind of boat. She is nourished by time with friends and family, good poems, a crackling fire, clear stars, and big waves.

Judy currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has two daughters, two sons, and three grandchildren.