Writing in Prison


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. However, prisoners are basically poor. As a result, typewriters are not too common and someone investing in one is not suspected of taking it apart to make shanks — much easier to simply use a can top.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →