Posts Tagged: prison
If you’ve been reading about the nationwide prisoner strike, perhaps pick up Heather Ann Thompson’s Blood in the Water. The recently released nonfiction title returns readers to the Attica Prison riots. It, “reminds one generation, and informs others,” that New York state’s handling of Attica “remains one of the bleakest, if least acknowledged, chapters in New York history” due to it’s unwillingness to reckon with how victims were treated as well as the continual existence of prison conditions in the age of further mass incarceration....more
I read the Assistant Warden’s e-mail four or five times, but I still could not grasp its implications. All I could think about was the ten copies of Toni Morrison’s Beloved I had just bought.
For Lit Hub, Mikita Brottman details her experience having the book club she ran at the Jessup Correctional Facility be inexplicably terminated....more
Livraria Folha Seca in Rio de Janeiro was told that a sign about two-time medalist Adhemar Ferreira Silva, who passed away in 2001, violated the Olympic Committee’s advertising policies.
Reuters attempts to answer why millennials love buying books.
Inmates from Two Bridges Jail are helping the Wiscasset, Maine public library build bookshelves for a used bookstore....more
Shakespeare’s texts are anything but stagnant, often taking on new meanings depending on the context in which they’re experienced. In an excerpt from The Maximum Security Book Club, Mikita Brottman describes her experience of teaching Shakespeare in a maximum security prison:
I like to stay open to misreadings.
Until recently in Romania, prisoners could reduce their sentences by thirty days for each “book of scientific value” they wrote while behind bars. Now one man, who went to prison for fraud, is being accused of plagiarism by a woman who says one of the books he wrote reads eerily like her dissertation....more
Italy has always provided the cutting edge in fashion. Now, the cutting edge is providing the fashion. Italian women in prison are now producing top-of-the-line fashion items that are pretty amazing:
Here, women inmates at several nearby prisons have turned into stylists, launching a peculiar brand that goes beyond the classical made-in-Italy products.
At the New Yorker, Grace Dunham discusses the importance of Captive Genders, an anthology about the oft-forgotten impact of the prison industrial complex on trans and queer people, recently released in its second edition:
The book brings together the work of activists, artists, and academics, many of whom are current or former prisoners; it challenges hierarchies of expertise, presenting recollection, poetry, and theory as equally legitimate mediums for political critique.
The news that governors are suddenly deciding that they don’t want to welcome Syrian refugees has really driven home to me just how cowardly much of this country is. We talk tough, mind you, but when we’re asked to really open ourselves up to something, we refuse....more
In prison, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez learned to love ramen. Now Alvarez has a book of recipes based on his time in prison, interspersed with stories like the time when food saved his life during a race riot:
“They were stuck there for hours, freezing in the cold,” Alvarez says of his would-be attackers.
Over at Hazlitt, Sarah Gerard interviews Matthew Seger, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison, and reveals what it’s like to keep up a writing discipline behind bars:
Before, if I wanted to write something down, I’d scribble it onto some notebook paper and then later transcribe it into a Word document and save it onto a hard drive.
New York City bookstore The Strand has started selling “Make America Read Again” hats that mock The Donald’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Toledo-area bookstore J’s Book Shelf is helping local inmates get access to reading material, donating 22,000 books....more
At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates unflinchingly analyzes and condemns the history of mass incarceration in America and its disproportionately devastating effect on black families:
The blacks incarcerated in this country are not like the majority of Americans. They do not merely hail from poor communities—they hail from communities that have been imperiled across both the deep and immediate past, and continue to be imperiled today.
For the Guardian, Erwin James reflects on his experience reading while in prison, and how books like David Levering’s Prisoners of Honor reshaped his life:
I was without skills or abilities, but I could read. I’m sure the six books a week I was allowed from the prison library helped to keep me alive during that uncertain year, unlike the man in the cell above mine who hanged himself during my first Christmas inside.
We’ve been thoroughly trained to not have empathy for people who’ve been convicted of violent offenses—even though that could mean many things, and I believe all of us have the capacity to do violence. People have also been trained to be fearful.
Drugs and petty crime landed Daniel Genis in prison for ten years. He spent his term reading and working on his three-hundred page novel—but only after dropping $375 on a clear plastic typewriter, the only model he was allowed. Genis spoke with The Airship, describing what it was like writing from prison:
A typewriter contains enough metal rods and plastic shards to murder a fair amount of people, so one would think that this would be an issue.