Tuesday, October 18, 2016


You feel like a peeled kiwi, your prickly skin removed, your underbelly exposed to the hot sun. You suck in a breath and want to bolt, run, and run, and never look back. But you hold your ground in spite of the fear, and prepare to speak the first words of the story that is your life, the one in which you might become the hero, not for your own glory, but the hope of your tribe. They are rooting for you, but are afraid too. They fear their own potential that has been canned and put on the shelf. You remind them of their complicity in framing their walls of possible, of taking what was handed to them. A chorus whispers in ambivalence: fear and hope. The trees pause in abeyance. The coyote snaps into alertness. A hawk perches to stare you down. This is it. Now or never. Life or another can down the road. Now. You die to silence and take your shot, your place on the stage.


  1. You write that inmates are good at asking questions that provoke deeper thought such as 'what is the difference between poetry and prose.' Seemingly simple, yet difficult. I think this post captures the poetic nature of capturing a feeling that is difficult to articulate in argument-driven prose.

  2. You are right, Cruz. And this is also about risk. Writing that is worth reading, to me anyway, is writing that puts something at stake, has the investment of the author at its heart. When inmates ask a seemingly simple question like what the difference is between prose and poetry it shows that they are thinking, want to know the answer, and are risking looking "dumb" in the workshops. I love it when they, or any student, "gets it," and discovers for himself (in this case men) that different genres of writing fulfill different purposes. When they then enter the conversation, they have a better sense of how they can best achieve what they want to achieve. Adelante!