Prisoner Express Poetry

From the very beginning of Prisoner Express, we have received poetry from prisoners. As we received more submissions we took the hint and began to feature prisoner poems in our newsletter. With the help of volunteers we have staged a number of public readings of prisoner poems, as well as conducted poetry contests for prisoners who wish to participate. Poetry provides a means where the prisoners we work with can freely express themselves. We invite you to read their writings and step into their world.

Click here to see the anthologies, and see recent posts below.

Community Across Cells

May 4, 2020

The two following poems are some of the first to be chosen for the Volume 23 of the  Prisoner Express Poetry Anthology.  Jointly they expose the painfully obvious and the obscured realities of what living life—for whatever amount of time—between the walls of a cell are like. Thank you to all who have contributed to…

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Poetry Anthology #22

February 5, 2020

Prisoner Express Poetry Volume 22 are now available! Prisoner Express has just published two volumes of poetry submitted by incarcerated authors across the US. A team of PE volunteers read through thousands of poems to find the poems for each anthology. Each volume had over 500 writers submit poems for consideration. Every prisoner who sends a…

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Poetry Anthology #21

August 6, 2019

Prisoner Express [PE] showcases some of the poetry submitted by the men and women who participate in our poetry writing program. A new volume is published every six months. More than 400 poets submitted entries for consideration, and our team of volunteers read through the submissions and create a volume that speaks to them. As…

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Poetry Anthology #20

March 30, 2019

Over 400 prisoners sent in poems in hopes of being included in this anthology. Volunteers at Prisoner Express read through all the poems and selected an assortment that they found meaningful. Now we are reading through another round of poetry as we gather poems for our 22nd anthology. Already 456 individuals have submitted entries and…

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Poetry Anthology #19

October 5, 2018

This poetry anthology #19 was mailed to 412 participants who submitted thousands of poems for consideration. Amber read through them and selected the following for inclusion in this edition. Below are her thoughts on the project. Click here to Download Poetry Anthology #19 “Putting together the poetry anthology has been one of my favorite projects so…

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Poetry Anthology #18

October 3, 2018

Poetry anthology 18 was compiled by Jennifer at Prisoner Express. It was her last big project before she graduated. She edited 2 anthologies in her time at Prisoner Express, reading many thousands of poems from 400+ participants and selected these to print. All of the prisoners who submitted poems received a copy of the newsletter. Download…

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Photo by Jon Asato on Unsplash

“Where Dreams are not Welcome,” by Taj Mahan-Haft

September 14, 2017

Dreams are an essentially human thing and having them taken away steals life. This piece is a subtle shout to Langston Hughes and his many references to dreams deferred. Here they are not just deferred but kept out at all costs, by the structure of the environment and by the culture inside. I wrote this…

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“I’m Here,” by William Spaulding

August 31, 2017

My poem is about my mom. I was in prison and lost her to an overdose. She was my best friend and for the longest time I felt like my life was over. I am an impulsive writer and one morning I woke up and grabbed the pen and paper and wrote this poem. I…

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“The Scent of Spring,” by Dennis D. Thomas

August 24, 2017

This poem is an attempt to describe to someone who has never done a “bid” or what is most commonly known as hard-time. It is very…

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“The Adam,” by Adam Baird

April 22, 2016

I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time But I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah I watched the world float to the dark side of…

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Journal Program
Theme Essays
Prisoner Art
Book Packages

Current & Past Poetry Anthologies from Prisoner Express

Here's some of the past anthologies we've printed and mailed to prisoners enrolled in our poetry programs. All of these anthologies are available for download and printing (see our copyright statement below) – simply click the PDF you'd like to download.

Terms of Use & Copyright:

All of the work collected and available in this archive is owned by, and all rights reserved, to the author. If you would like to use, distribute, or change any of the work presented in this archive you must have explicit permission from the author.

Please notify us if you would like assistance contacting any of the authors featured in the Prisoner Express Archive.