Rei and Rey talk Prisoner’s Poetry on the Statesman Journal!
Pretend by R. Miranda
About the author: R. Miranda has been featured in the second poem, “Seesaw.” In person, he is a large, barrel chested man who beat Danny Trejo during a bench pressing contest. His introspective poems about prison life were brought to life when he performed this poem for the Prisoner’s Poetry group at the Oregon State Penitentiary Poetry Slam night.
About the Author: Alfredo began our class this spring semester. As soon as we began discussion, he was the one who was always willing to share his opinion and view. If one were to describe him in one word it would be ‘analytically’. He would not just talk about the definition of the word, but he would also elaborate, to the best of his ability, of the implications it brought to the global structure of a poem.
The Price of Ivory by Shawn Martin
About the Author: Shawn is an old student and very lovable ( a direct quote from Rei!). On that note, Rey describes him as a “teddy bear.” He is currently taking college courses with Chemeketa and is dedicated to being a life long learner. He is interested in pyschology and sociology. He really loves elephants, and nature and all its glory.
I think it was sometime during Bill Clinton’s second talk that it hit me how awesome this event was. I looked up at the blue stage and saw the bright lights, looked to my right and left and saw all the young, attentive faces. I was in a room full of people who were not only hungry to make a difference, but who had turned that hunger into something awesome, something that was already changing the lives of those around the world.
I met students from Greece, Iran, Cameroon and a smattering of people from different states all across the U.S. They were some of the most impressive young men and women I have ever had the privilege to meet. Some of them were interested in creating their own chapters of Prisoner’s Poetry at their schools, and all of us on the Prisoner’s Poetry team are excited at the thought of spreading our mission of rehabilitation through self expression to other parts of the U.S! I felt honored and amazed–not even a year into this amazing project and already Prisoner’s Poetry was being accepted and invited to something as inspiring as the Clinton Global Initiative University. It gives me so much hope for the future of our budding organization, so much more to look forward to. I know our influence and scope is set to become larger than any of us can even dream.
In the end, as cool as attending the CGIU was, it’s more awesome to think about the lives we’ve touched with our work. To measure success in how many men feel like the outside world actually cares about them, how many voices were given a platform to express their innermost feelings, how many community members can go online and see the work of brilliant and honest individuals. These men have shared their souls with us, stanza by stanza, word for word, and we at Prisoner’s Poetry are committed to sharing their artistic souls with the world and changing the perception of the prison community. After attending the CGIU, we have nothing left to do but work even harder to spread our mission. We owe it to these men and we owe it to ourselves, for the greater good of the world, for the greater good of the never ending quest for social justice.
I was blown away by the energy of the night. From leaving behind everything that could tie you to the outside world in the visiting room, to hearing all the gated doorways open and close, and finally getting to meet the students. I was transported into another world, and I felt welcomed. Even though I didn’t have a nickname that was more than my name, they all smiled and opened themselves up in that classroom. The quality of poetry and camaraderie we felt by sharing bits and pieces of ourselves left me in a shock by the end of it all. I still can’t fully describe how it felt, but I’m left with a spring in my step and a greater love for what we do here at Prisoner’s Poetry.
President Clinton launched the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses, and Rey is there to bring Prisoner’s Poetry to a greater audience!
There is Bill Clinton himself!
And Will Allen!
Excuse me for the excess of exclamation points, it’s just really exciting to know that what we’re doing is reaching people on an international level.
Fun fact: Rey met Stephen Colbert in the restroom. Celebrity sightings all over the place!