INK Announces Finalists in Prison Writing Contest

Ink RedoINK, the country’s most ambitious prison writing program, announces finalists in its first nation-wide prison writing contest. Vidahlia Press and Publishing House, Inc., an independent book publisher, launched INK in 2013 to provide a literary outlet for those who are incarcerated in federal, state and county institutions. Thousands of incarcerated writers across the U.S. responded and the finalists exhibit exceptional literary talent and promise as literary artists.

“History has shown that many of America’s greatest writers have penned their work while incarcerated, often in deplorable conditions,” said Roy J. Rodney Jr., Publisher and President at Vidahlia Press and Publishing House, Inc. “INK is a combination of the company’s desire to pay it forward and its belief that the mass incarceration of almost three million citizens in the Unites States includes many exceptional literary artists.”

Winners will be announced on October 22, 2014 to coincide with the 19th Annual Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. This event is part of the National Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, an effort that aims to stop the unjust incarceration of nearly three million people in the United States; the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Vidahlia Press and INK join the fight to strike a blow against mass incarceration by shedding a new light on talent in prison and offering these individuals an opportunity to become successful literary artists.

The first place winners of the INK: Prison Writing Contest will receive either $500 or a correspondence course at Adams State University in Colorado. Adams State University has generously offered to provide at least one scholarship for our contest winners. The top three in each category and several others will be featured in the upcoming publication, From These Many Rooms: An Anthology of Selections from the INK Prison Writing Contest.

Selected literally submissions will be included in an anthology called From These Many Rooms which can be preordered at

Poetry Finalists

  • “A Poem in Five Chapters” by Christopher Myers
  • “Antonio Machado Wrote the World” by Francisco Wills
  • “Bird’s Eye View” by Sydney Duff
  • “Poem”, “Song of Body Healing”, “I don’t know what I expected”, “Random Tuesday”, and “Involuntary Monk” by Edward Ji
  • “Introspection” by John Griffin
  • “Sunrise on Tuesday” by Darren Garner
  • “The Danger”, “Destitution Institution”, “Future Understanding” by M. Berniece Johnson
  • “A Memory” by David Layman
  • “A Forge of Slugs” by Kenneth Meyers
  • “Words Are Weapons” by Terrance “Boo-Boo” Tucker
  • “Aegri Somnia” by Rafael Vasquez
  • “Cholo Was the Best” by Stephen Wilson
  • “I Was a Husband” and “Madness” by Jessica Woudstra
  • “Every Hour Is Fifteen Degrees in a Prison Cell” by John Fenton
  • “Twin Towers “by Ocie Lee Wilson III
  • “here i am” by Sid Pair O’Dice
  • “Mom, Can You Leave the Light On?” by Donald Brown
  • “DmB” by Perry Cadue
  • “Thinking Back” by Phil Elliott
  • “What I See with My Eyes” by Robert L. Guillory
  • “Where Is Heaven?” by Nathaniel Harris
  • “Who Spends the Night Alone?” by Sumwan Bey-Xo Nierrhu
  • “Evil” by Patrick A. Kennedy
  • “Life Exchange” by Yamiley Mathurin
  • “The Epiphany” by Tony McAfee
  • “The Details”, “The Why’s of It”, and “Shock and Awe” by Juliette McShane
  • “The Last Poem” by John Purugganan
  • “Re-Creation” by William B. Whiters “aka Red Night
  • “Stardust” by Marcus Wilder
  • “Noise” by Robin Yeager
  • “Scars” by Damien M. Guerrero

Drama Finalists

  • One-Man Show (or “Asher”) by Christopher Myers
  • Oldhead by John Griffin
  • High Risk by Roy Gutierrez
  • The Canton Experiment by Benjamin Frandsen
  • Tryin to Change by Trent Kilgore
  • Maggie by Lyle May
  • Let Me Count the Ways by Keith Sanders
  • A Family Reunion of New Beginnings by Sandra Stamey
  • Love, Money, Family by Tevin Wilson

Fiction Finalists

  • As Close as You Get by Scott Gutches
  • Snowless Inside by Patrick Kinney
  • Careful What You Wish For by Ransom Scott
  • The Prophet Otis by Wendell Lindsay
  • The Awakening by Michael Drankus
  • A Dog Named Cat by Michael Fletcher
  • A Perfect Game by Robert Castilgia
  • 86’d from the Hellshine Lounge by Andrew Conde
  • Just Plain Nuts by Bryan Picken
  • The Movement of Sound by Chelsea MiMicheal
  • Stairway from Heaven by Dennis Isbell
  • Heartland by Jacob Silva
  • The Boy with the red ball by Jimmy Devaugn
  • The Contingency Plan by Michael Washington
  • Alpha Wave by Nicholas D. Seidel
  • The Last Criminal by Roy Gutierrez
  • Warrior by Tywana Hines
  • Silver and Gold by David Layman
  • Hawks by James Lavigne
  • The Tower by Jason Gonzalez

Nonfiction Finalists:

  • For Shame by Sonya Reed
  • Cotton Patch Kid by Thomas Miller
  • Come Break Me Down by Chris Dankovich
  • Superman by Paul J. Reed
  • Perspectives on Firewood by Josiah Ivy
  • Making the Transition by Darron Williams
  • Wood, Dirt, and Corn by John Rodriguez
  • When the Numbness Goes Away by Adam Fuller
  • The Birth of My Shadow by Adam Hinds
  • It’s so Hard to Take a Piss in Jail and Halloween Call by Andres McKenzie
  • Flats Fiasco by Antonio Renteria
  • Velvet Jesus by Barbi Brown
  • How to Turn a Double Play by Bernie Augustyniak
  • Dog of My Dreams by Carla A. Serafin
  • What Tony Saw by Christopher K. Williams
  • The Saddest Day of My Life by Danate L. Shaw
  • Heidelberg Solitude by David J. Collver
  • Meal Ready to Eat by David P. Rhoades
  • Road Trip 1969 by David Ward
  • The Self-Destruction of America: Our Role in Undermining the Progress of the Nation by Demetrius Evans
  • Penned Behind Bars by Ethan Van Sice
  • Ants: the moral of a story by Gary Gilbert
  • Calamity on Logan Mountain by Heidi Hatcher
  • A Father’s Birth Story by J. Dallas Lockhart
  • Encountering Administration Segregation by Jeremy Busby
  • When We Were Cowboys by Jesse Sorrells
  • Letters by Johnny F. Adams
  • Death without Parole by John Purugganan
  • Spoils of My Misspent Youth by Joshua Bunn
  • The Importance of Being a Father in Prison by Larry Stephenson
  • A Soul on Fire: No Fairy Tales from This Young Black Males Coming Up in New Orleans by Lawrence Youngblood
  • Stan and Hell of a Holiday by Natasha Hodge
  • The Bull Ride by Timothy D.V. Bazrowx

Graphic Novel Finalists:

  • Untitled by Malcom Moore
  • Untitled by Martin Robertson
  • Like A Jungle by Javon Woodall

About Vidahlia Press
Vidahlia Press & Publishing House, Inc. is an independent publisher committed to giving a voice to artists from all walks of life and to nurturing talent from unexpected places worldwide. An open-minded publisher with a soul, Vidahlia is interested in taking individual stories and ideas and presenting them in beautiful and creative ways to a global audience via a wide variety of media.

[1] The INK contest was sponsored by: Adams State University, Pubsoft a division of Kbuuk, LLC, The American Correctional Association, GMc+Company Advertising Alliance Print & Graphics, Jita Printing, Jail Guitar Doors, Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), American Construction Management Services, Inc., Aqua Creative PR, Metro Disposal, Inc., Booth & Booth, APLC., Davillier Law Group, LLC., Mr. Benjamin Walker, Mr. A. Ricky Smith, Mr. William Cranston, Mr. Charles M. Trippe, Mr. David Andy Lang, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, BVB Ventures.


INK: Prison Writing Contest Finalists Celebrate

July 4th AnnouncementAs we celebrate our nation’s freedom, Vidahlia Press is prepared to release the INK: A Prison Writing Contest Winners! Over one hundred talented writers from across the nation were identified as finalists. As you might surmise awarding prizes to the incarcerated can be a complicated matter. So we are still awaiting all the permissions necessary to ensure that we are able to provide the prizes to the winners.

We are working tirelessly on the anthology, From These Many Rooms, an inspiring collection that offers stories full of hope while teaching lessons in resilience, compassion, and redemption. These compelling, creative, and authentic works will inspire us all to live beyond boundaries and to visualize that the imagination is larger than any restraint or confinement. I hope you will agree.

We have included a randomly selected poem from a finalist who has already given permission, “Bird’s Eye View” by Sydney Duff.  Please stay tuned for the announcement of our 2014 INK Winners coming soon!

Bird’s Eye View

here we have all
the familiar images
of incarceration:
walls and bars, calendars and clocks
and so much fear

but what about the smell
of morning on a Sunday?
the white crescent
of a benevolent moon?
who notices a sky so blue
that it pierces, splits you open
like a ripe piece of fruit?

here we speak
in riddles and loops
parables of purgatory,
terrestrial half-truths

but what of the singing sparrows
perched on the razor wire,
the paper rustle of the trees?
what of the ballet
of the circling hawk,
the waddling arcs
of Canadian geese?

do the birds know
this is prison?
do they care?
do they distinguish
between greenness
of this grass
and that which grows elsewhere?

here we walk long circles
orbiting what little we see
wearing out our hamster wheels:
“when I’m home…
when I’m free…”

do the birds sit
and stare at the bars?
or do they flit through
the space in between?

Sydney Duff, Vidahlia Press & Publishing House, Inc.



Article About INK

The Search For Talented Writers In The Prison System Is Changing It, Too 

By Adam Popescu via FastCompany Labs

A digital publishing house is conducting a semi-legal, large-scale search for the next great incarcerated author. The reaction from authorities isn’t what you’d expect.

Jack London, Ken Kesey, William Burroughs, Oscar Wilde, Malcolm X, Voltaire, Cervantes, E.E. Cummings, Martin Luther King, Mark Twain–all literary legends who spent time behind bars. Some only a few nights, others years. A few even penned classics while in the joint.

Unlike those lucky standouts, most incarcerated art doesn’t make it outside the confines of a cell. But that may be changing. Random House recently paid six figures for the rights to a handwritten prison memoir titled “The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict, or the Inmate of a Gloomy Prison.”

Now a Texas publishing company is searching for the next great incarcerated writers–something never possible before software, thanks to strict laws about communicating (and, of course, planning entrepreneurial creative efforts) with prisoners. Here’s how they’re pulling it off.

Brenda Marie Osbey

Vidahlia Press would like to introduce Brenda Marie Osbey as the distinguished judge for INK’s poetry category. She is an accomplished poet and professor. A native of New Orleans, Brenda Marie Osbey was appointed the first peer-selected Poet Laureate of the State of Louisiana in 2005.

Brenda Marie Osbey

Professor Brenda Marie Osbey teaches Africana poetry virtual seminar with University of Kansas/NEH special online institute.  On Friday, November 15, 2013 she will be reading from History and Other Poems and then discussing Africana poetry for the remainder of the hour.

Below is the audio recording from the webinar.

Selected Honors and Awards:

  • Louisiana Board of Regents Award to Artists and Scholars (ATLAS)
  • Manship Summer Fellowship

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Today is World Read Aloud Day! Worldwide

Today is World Read Aloud Day! Worldwide people will #readaloud for the transforming power
of literacy & story.


March is National Read Aloud Month!

Does reading aloud really matter?


Pubsoft Breaks into Non-Profit Sector with Vidahlia Press and Publishing House Deal

Pubsoft Breaks into Non-Profit Sector with Vidahlia Press & Publishing House Deal — HOUSTON, Feb. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ –.

I am part of the worldwide movement for

I am part of the worldwide movement for global literacy. I hope you’ll #readaloud on World Read
Aloud Day too:

Only 5 more days until World Read Aloud

Only 5 more days until World Read Aloud Day! There’s still time to register and gather family &
friends for a #readaloud party:

The power of story belongs to everyone.

The power of story belongs to everyone. #ReadAloud on March 5 for the 793
million people who cannot read or write.

Let’s get the whole world to #readaloud

Let’s get the whole world to #readaloud for a literate world on March 5. Register for
World Read Aloud Day today:


33 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer | Thought Catalog

33 Unusual Tips To Being A Better Writer | Thought Catalog.

I will read aloud on March 5 for World Read Aloud Day, will you?

I will read aloud on March 5 for World Read Aloud Day, will you?
#readaloud #wrad


Every year on the first Wednesday of March LitWorld’s advocacy campaign for the human right of literacy calls worldwide attention to the importance of reading aloud and sharing stories.

Imagine a world where everyone can read…

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.

- See more at:

Google Doodle Celebrates John Steinbeck

Originally posted on NewsFeed:

Today’s Google Doodle is one big, interactive birthday card to Pulitzer Prize winning author John Steinbeck, who would have turned 112 today.

Google Doodle John Steinbeck

After clicking on the Doodle, users get transported to a click through animation that highlights his greatest works, starting with The Grapes of Wrath.

Google Doodle John Steinbeck Grapes of Wrath

Clicking the image prompts illustrations based on the Pulitzer Prize and Nation Book Award winning novel to appear on the screen along with famous quotes.

Google Doodle John Steinbeck

Other books featured included Cannery Row:

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 7.56.56 AM

Of Mice and Men:

Google Doodle John Steinbeck of mice and men

The Pearl:

Google Doodle John Steinbeck The Pearl

and Travels with Charlie in Search of America:

Google Doodle John Steinbeck travels with charlie

Steinbeck died in 1968 at 66.

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“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

[Letter to Max Brod, July 5, 1922]

― Franz Kafka


Fun Infographic from goodreads



The Horrifying Love Lives of Famous Authors

Vidahlia Press:

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is an article about the less than perfect love lives of famous authors. This should cheer anyone up about their own situation.

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

In the abstract, everyone would like to fall in love with a famous writer. It holds out the promise of fabulous love letters and, if one is very lucky, immortalization as the subject of a super-romantic poem. I mean, Keats’ beloved Fanny Brawne really lucked out, I think, with “Bright star, bright star / would I were as steadfast as thou art.” I would be thrilled if someone would write that about me.

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The City Inside

Vidahlia Press:

Hakim Bellamy at the Monroe Correctional Facility

Hakim Bellamy at the Monroe Correctional Facility

Originally posted on The Prison Arts Coalition:

By Hakim Bellamy

About the guest blogger: Hakim Bellamy became the inaugural poet laureate of Albuquerque on April 14th, 2012, at age 33. He was the son of a preacher man (and a praying woman). His mother gave him his first book of poetry as a teen, a volume by Khalil Gibran. Many poems later, Bellamy has been on two national champion poetry slam teams, won collegiate and city poetry slam championships (in Albuquerque and Silver City, NM), and has been published in numerous anthologies and on inner-city buses. A musician, actor, journalist, playwright and community organizer, Bellamy has also received an honorable mention for the Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize at the University of New Mexico. Bellamy is the founder and president of Beyond Poetry LLC. For more information on the author, please visit

The City Inside Me

I want to think about my future.
I want…

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“The Race to Incarcerate: Locking Up Poor Blacks and Latinos ” via Newsletter

The Race to Incarcerate: Locking Up Poor Blacks and Latinos

Most prisoners are people of color. That is not justice.

by Scott A. Bonn, Ph.D.

 The number of persons in U.S. prisons is more than 2 million-roughly equal to the entire population of Houston, Texas. The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society or the actual patterns of crime. In fact, there is a stark pattern of racial disparity in the prison population that is the result of racial profiling by authorities.The vast majority of U.S. prisoners are poor, uneducated, unskilled, emotionally or psychologically troubled, drug and/or alcohol dependent, and either Black or Latino.The racial disparity between prisoners and the general population is particularly profound. Blacks and Latinos together comprise less than 30% of the general population but nearly 70% of the U.S. prison population. How can this be?Conventional – that is, uninformed – wisdom suggests the reason Blacks and Latinos represent the majority of the prison population is that they commit the majority of all crimes in the U.S. That is simply not the case.Top of FormBottom of FormThe reality is that Blacks and Latinos are differentially targeted and processed throughout the U.S. criminal justice system. The tremendous discretion afforded the police, prosecutors and judges at all stages of the criminal justice process – from arrest to incarceration and parole – allows Blacks and Latinos to be given harsher treatment than Whites who commit the very same crimes.

 This is largely a result of “racial profiling.” According to the ACLU, racial profiling “refers to the discriminatory practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the individual’s race, ethnicity, religion or national origin.” Stated differently, racial profiling is the reliance of criminal justice authorities on a group of non-legal personal characteristics they believe to be associated with crime.

Consider these facts: Blacks make up 12% of the U.S. population and comprise 14% of all illegal drug users, but they represent 35% of all drug arrests, 55% of all convictions for drug crimes, and 75% of all those who go to prison for drug crimes! This is clearly not equal justice for Blacks relative to other races.

 Disturbingly, racial disparity in the criminal justice process exists for most other crimes, including murder and rape, as well. The startling crime statistics reveal that racially biased patterns of processing are very common throughout the criminal justice system.

 It is time to pull the blindfold off of lady justice and admit that she is not blind after all. She sees quite well, indeed. Her acute but sometimes prejudiced vision unfortunately leads her to differentially profile, target and incarcerate many poor Blacks and Latinos.

The result is a prison population that does not fairly represent the true picture or color of criminal activity in the U.S. It’s time to put an end to such practices and deliver justice fairly to all U.S. citizens.

10 Must-Read Books for February

Originally posted on Flavorwire:

It’s only the second month of 2014, and we already have a bunch of books to jot down for end-of-year list consideration. We’ve still likely got a month or more of winter cold to look forward to, and thankfully, the pile of great reads (including a stellar selection of short-story collections) due out in February provides plenty of reasons to stay inside until things start to thaw out.

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