Shine a light on writers behind bars!
The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project publishes writers incarcerated in the state of Iowa. It operates under the premise that strong writing deserves to be championed. Aiming to amplify the voices of writers behind bars, the project has produced beautiful quotes from writers who may otherwise be overlooked.
Angela Davis once said, “Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings.” In addition to bridging the gap between writers of both outside and inside populations, publishing the work of incarcerated writers can contribute to the greater literary landscape.
Here are 15 beautiful quotes from The University of Iowa Prison Writing Project.
1. “I came to know the stranger as me and became a stranger to myself.” — Josh. L, from his poem “Finding Freedom”
2. “I walk down this road, with my thoughts alone. This plane of existence, I call home.” — Kyle M., from his poem “It’s What I Know”
3. “Black or brown a hog is a hog — Hog is Boss, Render that” — Clifford A.J., from his poem “Squeal”
4. “I miss my Mama blue. She thinks this be her fault. As I miss Mama blue. No way this be her fault.” — Clifford A.J., from his poem “Holding Hand’s Blues”
5. “One moment is our history . . . the future is now and still to be. The now is all will ever be . . . forever throughout eternity.” — David W.M., from his poem “The Maker”
6. “I see the light up above, yet it’s so far away! I look, I feel, and I can’t find my way.” — Daniel H., from his poem “My Life in the Darkness”
7. “Now I apologize for all the times I had to watch you cry. And all the times I didn’t call you when you crossed my mind.” — Robert L.N., from his poem “Apologies”
8. “You see, like all things, Hope cuts both ways. Some Hope is needed, but left unchecked, and he just consumes too much.” — Rodney B., from his short story “The Seed”
9. “I seclude myself/ into tha Depts-/ of thinkin/ glancen out/ of a window plane/ wondering/ if you could hear/ my deepest thoughts.” — A. Hudson, from his poem “Pebbles”
10. “Will I kick my shoes off one day, will I peel my socks down and wiggle my toes in the dewy grass, as I walk in the mist, or will I laugh my ass off and then collapse on the ground, as the mist melts away from the hot morning sun abandoning me once again.” — Jason R., from his poem “Will I Be Free to Walk in the Mist?”
11. “History doesn’t repeat itself, it just never changes.” — Christian M., from his poem “A Specific Gravity”
12. “Within the confines of prison you have many opportunities with regards to time toward successful thinking.” — R.A. Williams, from his personal narrative “Success While Out of Life’s Element”
13. “My proof is simple, God’s existence is true. I needed a mother — He gave me you.” — Michael W., from his poem “GOD?”
14. “We are all related in our diversity, in that each of us has something that separates us from the herd; it’s in these differences that we are all related.” — A.Rhodd, from “I Became Native”
15. “The first eight years of my bid were like a barren desert of torturous reruns, day after day of nothingness, repeated on a never-ending loop. When compared to my experience of college in prison, those first years seem like a different planet.” – Matt H. from “Experiencing COVID-19 in prison.”