Society’s View by Troy
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About the Author: Troy has a dry humor and contributes a lot of positive energy to the class Amy and Jameka have taught. He has a firm grasp of poetry, and also a daughter he loves. What better poem to start of Black History Month with?
I was very excited by the opportunity to teach poetry to inmates at the Oregon State Penitentiary this past fall. I had never interacted with inmates before and had not heard much from many people that had. I talked to Rei about his experiences but he always just seemed so cool about what he was doing – like working with inmates inside a penitentiary was no big deal. Because I really didn’t know what to expect interacting with inmates, Rei’s relaxed attitude toward his experiences gave me confidence going in.
My emotions shifted as going inside the penitentiary become more real. I will never forget the moments leading up to entering the prison for my first time – going through security, waiting in between barred doorways, checking in at various identification points – my excitement turned to nervousness. Standing locked between doorways with no way out, I realized that once I was in, I was in. I was most concerned by the realization that I’d be trapped inside the facility; I felt claustrophobic. This made me anxious and I nearly panicked out of control. I focused on breathing deeply and stabilized my thoughts. Rei was right there to comfort me with his confidence. We entered the penitentiary.
Once inside we made our way up to the recreation floor and waited for class to begin. Inmates began coming in one-by-one. Before I knew it they were introducing themselves to me and seemed excited to see a new face in their class. I was blown away by the kindness I felt in the room. Everyone was respectful and the inmates enjoyed spending time with each other in class. And their poetry was incredible! It was absolutely amazing to hear and even feel the inmates passionately recite their poems!
I’ve since gone back in one more time and look forward to learning more about poetry with these wonderful human beings in the future!
Education by Troy Ramsey
About the poem: The use of the number “2” instead of the word is an interesting stylistic and thematic choice. It reminiscent of phrases like, “2 kool 4 skool” and what is considered “uneducated”, making you take a step back and reevaluate your view of education.
R.A.W Knowledge 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 and other topics shine, whether spoken aloud or read on the page.
Love by Anonymous
This sonnet is an interesting view on the struggles of love, and leaves you with a heart-less message. The spelling and capitalization is notably divergent from the grammatically correct, and this leads to some deeper probing in the word choice.
Change Your Ways by Jacob Greenlee
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About the Author: Jacob “Creeper” Greenlee has been a part of Prisoner’s Poetry since the start. He has truly embraced poetry as an art form of self expression. He has been featured in Willamette University’s Prisoner’s Poetry video. Currently, he is a continuing student and hopes to incorporate poetry in his life after his time in the Oregon State Penitentiary.
My Mother, My Inspiration by Shawn Martin
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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 nature and previously showcased a poem about elephants.