Chris Hedges shared his personal relationship with writing and its political impact during a recent speech sponsored by Public Energy and held in conjunction with Precarious: Peterborough ArtsWORK Festival.

“It’s this mixture of compulsion, maybe even obsession,” Hedges says of his need to write. “If I go—even all these years later—three or four days without writing, it’s as if somebody’s taking the oxygen out of the room, as if I can’t breathe.”

In addition to writing for Truthdig, Hedges has worked in theater—specifically, leading a playwriting program for maximum-security inmates in New Jersey. The workshop culminated in a play, “Caged,” and a successful Kickstarter campaign was held earlier this year to fund its staging.

“I said, ‘I don’t know anything about writing plays, or producing plays. But I’m going to take your song to every theater director who will talk to me,’ ” Hedges says he told the prisoners. “… And when I went back and told my students [that the play would be produced by a Trenton, N.J., theater] … every single student said exactly the same thing: ‘Can our families go?’ It’s the power of your song. The power of your truth.”

Watch the full speech, in which Hedges delves into his journey as an author, in the video above.

—Posted by Emma Niles.

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