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Helen Elaine Lee 

Prison Ministry Guest Speaker
June 11, 2023
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Join the Prison Ministry Team as we welcome acclaimed author Helen Elaine Lee on Sunday, June 11th, 2023. Our guest will be introduced and give a brief message during the NMCC worship at 10:00 AM in the Sanctuary followed by a reading from her new book Pomegranate, with questions and answers and book signing in Fellowship Hall.  Light refreshments will be served.

The main character of Pomegranate, Ranita Atwater, is wrapping up her four-year sentence for opioid possession at Oak Hills Correctional Center, near Boston. With three years of sobriety, she is determined to stay clean and regain custody of her two children from her aunts who have been raising them. My name is Ranita, and I’m an addict, she has said again and again at NA meetings. 


But who else is she? Who might she choose to become? She is gaining her freedom, but she is leaving behind the group of women who have helped to get her through. And she is losing her lover, Maxine, who has inspired her to imagine herself and the world differently. 


Drawing on Maxine’s love, the solace of books, and the curiosity, respect, and wonder imparted by her people, Ranita is determined to confront the weight of the past and discover what might lie beyond mere survival. With her fierce and often funny voice, she reveals how rocky and winding the path to healing is for a Black woman. 


She must steer clear of the temptation of oblivion. She must weather the resentment and mistrust of her children. She must atone. And she must face her unhealed wounds and honor the body that has seldom felt like it belongs to her. Will she be able to draw on family, memory, faith, and nature to keep choosing life? Will she discover abundance in her pomegranate heart, alongside all the loss?

With lyrical and masterful prose, Helen Elaine Lee paints a humane, unflinching, and hopeful portrait of the devastating and interconnected effects of addiction, incarceration, racism, and misogyny... and of one woman’s determination to own and tell her story.

Helen Elaine Lee is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  She has written other novels, The Serpent's Gift, and Water Marked.  She has written several short stories and essays about people who have been incarcerated. Helen was on the board of PEN New England, served on its Freedom to Write Committee and volunteered with its Prison Creative Writing Program, which she helped to start.  In addition, Helen volunteered at a medium men’s prison for many years, at a women’s pre-release facility, and several houses of correction. She wrote an essay about her experiences, “Visible Men,” which was published in the NYTimes Book Review. Helen is currently Professor of Comparative Media Studies/Writing at MIT. Find out more at

You won’t want to miss meeting author Helen Elaine Lee and hearing about her incredible experiences and story writing. If would like to order a copy of Pomegranate, please contact Nora Price.

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