Check out Margo in the community at The Press Democrat, Poets & Writers 2016 and 2018, KRCB, and KALW Booktalk
Margo Perin's personal story is about invisibility and the search for identity and a sense of home. When she was seven years old, her father, who had been jailed several times, received word he was about to be investigated for his participation in a Mafia scheme to extort thousands (today worth millions) of dollars from investors. Margo's family began a life on the run so that her father wouldn’t have to serve a twenty-year prison sentence. In seven years, the family moved eight times, crossing five countries and two continents, sometimes visited by a Mafia "message boy," sometimes sharing their living room with a bodyguard. They often moved in the middle of the night, always without warning. Margo's parents changed their last name and severed all ties with the past, family, and ethnicity. They came from nowhere, defined by who they were not, not by who they were. As they moved, so too did their internal landscapes, and their lives became a chain of shifting realities, linked by secrets and shaped by growing violence and deception.
Her experience and search to find out who she was and where she came from led Margo to become a writer and community artist. It inspired her to create projects that give voice to experiences that lie invisible beneath the social fabric and to forge bridges between communities. She has worked with migrants, immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youth and adults, people with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, police officers and their loved ones, criminal justice professionals-in-training, and children dealing with violence and trauma.
At San Francisco County Jail and San Quentin State Prison, Margo taught writing workshops to help incarcerated men and women to excavate their life stories and bring them to the public in print, CD recordings, and at public readings and presentations. She founded Write & Rise to provide the means for self-exploration through writing for adults and youth affected by the trauma associated with crime
In 2012, Margo was commissioned to meet with the survivors of police officers, wounded or killed in the line of duty, to create a poem for the Spiral of Gratitude memorial, a Shimon Attie project in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission and BALEAF. The memorial is situated in the lobby of the San Francisco Public Safety Building.
At the University of California at Berkeley Extension, California State University Criminal Justice Administration, the Teachers for Social Justice Conference, and at substance treatment programs and group homes, Margo has trained educators and other professionals in writing strategies and restorative justice techniques. At Marin General Hospital, she teaches writing workshops for medical professionals dealing with moral distress and work-related grief. At the University of California at San Francisco's Art for Recovery, she facilitated writing workshops for people with cancer. In Britain, she counseled refugees and asylum-seekers and taught immigrant adults and children.
Margo teaches children K-12 poetry through California Poets in the Schools and shares her poetry workshops on video with the wider community.
Margo has emceed, moderated, and participated in numerous readings and panels at public venues, including at the San Francisco Public Library (Main), BookGroupExpo, and Exposure Gallery.
Margo's hope is that as we discover and rediscover our humanity through writing and sharing our writing, we will no longer be able to deny the humanity in others and we will find an end to violence. The words of Eli Weisel are a source of inspiration for her community projects: