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. In Blackbirds in the Pomegranate: Stories from the Ixcotel State Prison, Sanger writes not only about her experience in the Mexican prison but about the many women she encountered while there.
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 working 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).