Prison lit

Becky
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So the weekend is here, Paris is back in jail, and Mercury is about to turn retrograde. It pains me to see pictures of anyone crying, so I'm thinking about mailing Paris a bunch of backordered Don Divas, Darkness at Noon, some Nikki Giovanni, and some Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. I hope Paris does feel inspired to find creative ways to act out while at the unfortunately named Twin Towers Correctional Facility. And since one in every 32 adults was in a prison, jail, on probation, or on parole at the end of 2005, maybe some coping-with-prison lit is even more apt. Sadly, when I called to find out if the towers had any writing classes--or any organized artistic instruction--I was greeted with a resounding, "No, we do not." Ok, fine. But amazing writing still comes (ahem, Sir Walter Raleigh, Martin Luther, St. Paul, Pound, Jenet) from inside penitentiaries.

 So, once inside, it has to start somewhere. Here's an excerpt from a woman writing about her incarcerated experience--from the Vermont Women's Prison Project, featured on Women & Prison: A Site for Resistance:

I had my hard times with trust, but being in and out, I found some great women that I could go to about anything, even if it was stupid: 'Look (with mock anguish), my shoe's ripped....' and they'd be like, 'I see, your shoe is ripped, let's see what we can do about that.' ...You're going to come to a point - this is not your lowest point, we've all had lower ones - you're gonna come to your lowest point and there's gonna be one person.... who might just come up and say, 'hey, are you ok?' and not say anything more and you'll be like 'get the hell away from me,' and they'll be like, 'ok, you know where to find me.'

Do you have any reading recommendations** for Paris? Or want to share your own favorite work of prison lit?

(**I'm serious--this isn't just another online invitation to slander)

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June 8, 2007 - 3:05pm
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