This edition of the Prisoner Express Poetry Anthology stands alone, as all of the entries were received during the pandemic. Those of us on the outside have a better understanding of the effects of isolation on our well-being. In prisons everything shut down and prisoners often watched the virus spread in their ranks. Many suffered, and reading, writing and reflecting were some of the only tools available to incarcerated men and women to help them understand the times and experiences they were living through.
PE was fortunate to have Kimberly edit of this volume of poetry. She along with other PE volunteers read through thousands of poems from four hundred and fifty participants to select the poetry in this volume.
Below is the introduction Kimberly wrote for this edition.
“This 24th volume of Prisoner Express’s poetry anthology is a special one. This past year we’ve experienced a global pandemic that took so many lives, as well as a racial reckoning across the country in response to the killings of unarmed Black people by the police. The tragedies and traumas of these events are expressed so beautifully within these pages.
I am in awe at the amount of talent and introspection apparent in all the poems received. Every one of you is an artist, a poet. We received hundreds of submissions, but with only 28 pages our team could only choose so many. We mostly sought poems that touched on themes surrounding injustice, love, life in prison, and spirituality for this volume. Congrats to everyone whose poems were selected! Even if your poem was not selected for this anthology, I’d like to encourage you to continue writing and submitting your work to Prisoner Express. Not only is the next anthology right around the corner, but you all have gifts that deserve to be shared with others, and your voice deserves to be heard.
I feel eternally grateful to have been entrusted to put together this anthology for you. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.
Until next time, Kimberly”
I hope you can find the time to read some of the poems and consider writing a letter to one of the prisoner `poets. https://prisonerexpress.org/prisoner-express-online-volunteer-guide/
Welcome by Grady Harris
Welcome to Prison let your sentence begin
There’s plenty to cover once you get settled in.
You’ll get three outfits some old prison blues.
And the footwear comes standard with holes in the shoes.
They’ll give you a job. You must work everyday.
Yes, They’ll put you to work but they’ll give you no pay,
Now it’s off to the chow hall where in line you wait.
They’ll feed you three meals, but the food’s not that great.
Back in the block you can still sit in your cell,
You can think of what you bought in this little corner of hell.
The worst thing you’ll notice, Are the tricks of the mind, And how ever so slow goes the passage of time.
Each minute is an hour, Each hour is a day
So soon you will wonder how you’ll live life this way.
Excitement is high at mail call each night
For some hope is shattered… When loved ones don’t write.
Now it’s time for lights out, what a strange day it’s been.
It’s like living a nightmare, that won’t ever end.
When you wake up tomorrow. You’ll start it over again…
So Welcome to Prison let your Sentence Begin
Knowing that people on the outside are reading their words inspires these poets to look deeper and share more of their experience. If you want to get involved and want some help getting started email us at firstname.lastname@example.org