University of Vermont

University Communications

'Orange is the New Black' Author to Speak March 25

Piper Kerman, author of the acclaimed memoir Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison, will speak at UVM Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in the Davis Center’s Grand Maple Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public, with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

In her memoir, Kerman recounts the 15 months that she spent in the Danbury Correctional Facility for a crime she had committed ten years prior during a very brief dalliance in the world of drug trafficking. Compelling, moving, and often hilarious, the stories of the women she met while in prison raise issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison.

The memoir was adapted into an original Netflix series of the same name by Jenji Kohan, creator of Showtime’s “Weeds,” and was renewed for a second season. It has been called “the best TV show about prison ever made” by the Washington Post and was lauded by Time’s TV critic James Poniewozik for “the stunningly matter-of-fact way it uses the prison to create one of TV’s most racially and sexually diverse — and as important, complex — dramas (and) contrasts the power and class dynamics inside the prison with those outside the prison.”

Kerman’s talk comes one month after a campus lecture by Laverne Cox, a trans actress with a role in the series, who said of the show:  “What’s genius about ‘Orange Is the New Black’ is that we see all these women of color, women of different ages, body types, from different backgrounds represented in very human ways. It’s not something that we see on TV a lot.” Read more about Cox's lecture.

Kerman has delivered lectures to campuses across the country and has spoken to groups that include the American Correctional Association’s Disproportionate Minority Confinement Task Force, federal probation officers, public defenders, justice reform advocates and volunteers, and formerly and currently incarcerated people. She serves on the board of the Women’s Prison Association.

The event is hosted by UVM Program Board. Information: (802) 656-2076, upb@uvm.edu