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Prison Poetry: An Active of Resistance | Interdisiplinary Programs

Mar 23, 2017
4:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Williams Hall - Herbert A. Roemmele Global Commons
31 Williams Drive
Bethlehem PA 18015

Jeanne Kassis Office of Interdisiplinary Programs

Sit in any prison classroom or juvenile center and ask: How many writers are in the room? How many people are writing rhymes or poems? From pockets, carefully folded pieces of paper will emerge, each with words upon them written in precise, tightly composed handwriting. They are written on the backs of grievance forms and scrap paper, and each week, they are mailed off to loved ones. Considering our country’s two-million-plus prisoners, these exchanges constitute one of our largest literary movements to date. Taken individually, these poems are powerful testaments to highly individual struggles. Collectively, they are also part of an important literary practice involving citizens speaking from and representing their humanity despite being behind bars – from Voltaire to Martin Luther King, Jr.

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