This talk discusses a number of poetic works that have emerged from maximum security prisons in the contemporary United States, both by imprisoned poets and by visiting artists, to explore some of the tensions between institutions and individuals, solitude and solidarity, in this large and diverse body of work. Prisons have long been sites of prolific poetic productivity, and contemporary creative writing can take different forms: from programmes provided by prison governors to enforce order and docility, through autonomously organised groups driven by shared political beliefs.
The form of the prison poetry workshop is also collaborative. As such, it challenges the penal disciplinary regimes whose most intense enforcement of separation is embodied by solitary confinement. I’ll discuss how writers respond to solitary confinement, as part of a longer history of the relationship between solitude, solidarity, and poetic reflection in the American prison-industrial complex.
No registration required for this seminar – all are welcome.