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To Prisoners

Lyric poetry carries the expression of the solitary human voice. Does it then follow that solitary confinement is a school for great poetry? This episode brings together a group of interpreters who learned in prison to hear poetry’s “call.”  Learn from Senator John McCain, playwright and activist Anna Deavere Smith, poets Reginald Dwayne Betts and Li-Young Lee, and four exonerated prisoners about poetry’s special resonance for those behind bars.

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Read the Poem

To Prisoners

I call for you cultivation of strength in the dark.
Dark gardening
in the vertigo cold.
In the hot paralysis.
Under the wolves and coyotes of particular silences.
[…]

 

Text of “To Prisoners” by Gwendolyn Brooks taken from To Disembark, Third World Press Foundation, 1981.

Read the full poem