Deborah Tobola


“Riveting! Tobola moves between her maverick childhood and
outlier life teaching art in prison with the eye of an anthropologist
and the pen of a poet. Much more than a memoir.”
—Sheila Toomey, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
“Deborah Tobola is a visionary pioneer in the field of arts in
correc tions in the United States . . . Her stunning memoir skillfully weaves her family’s story with her professional life experiences, delivering a lucid, up-close, and deeply personal view of
bringing art a la carte into the belly of the beast . . .”
—Curt L. Tofteland, founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars
“Deborah Tobola has spent most of the last thirty years in California prisons—more time inside than the average bank robber. In Hummingbird in Underworld, she takes us on an adventure most people would never imagine . . . What a joy to read!”
—Claire Braz-Valentine, poet and playwright
“Like a hummingbird, Deborah Tobola’s story flutters effortlessly from her bohemian upbringing to her work in prison. It is her poetry, and the poetry of her prison students, that
‘knows no boundaries of geography or language.’”
—Leah Joki, author of Juilliard to Jail and Prison Boxing
“. . . Deborah Tobola writes with lean precision, guiding us through prison like a kind scientist . . . her passion for the arts is matched by empathy for the imprisoned. I was a student and employee of Ms. Tobola’s in 2000. As an aspiring poet and novelist,
she is my mentor once again.”
—“Opie,” former student
“. . . that’s the heart of the story: Underneath her tough exterior, she has a gifted and inspiring teacher’s idealism and empathy, and she believes that the arts can save one’s soul and free one’s mind, a
valuable gift when one’s body is locked up for years, even decades.”
—Read Her Like An Open Book

“Deborah Tobola weaves together personal and career events with strong, varied and colorful threads. With humor, heart, and hope, this author offers a
lighthouse of inspiration for leaders everywhere.”—Bonnie Young, San Luis Obispo County Poet Laureate, 2011–2012
“In her fearless flight inside and outside the bars of prison, Tobola shows us that ‘the emergency is beauty in harsh places.’”
—J. H. Nuñez, poet 

(C)2019 Deborah Tobola • All Rights Reserved

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