Category Archives: INK: Prison Writing Contest

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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.

 

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/ —.

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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.

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The City Inside

Hakim Bellamy at the Monroe Correctional Facility

Hakim Bellamy at the Monroe Correctional Facility

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 www.hakimbe.com.

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 sync504.com 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.

PRE-ORDER From These Many Rooms: The 2014 INK Prison Writing Contest Anthology

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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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The Prison Arts Coalition

Below is a message from Vidahlia Press and Publishing House.

Vidahlia Press & Publishing House announces its first literary contest for those incarcerated in federal, state, or county prison. Approximately 2,000 federal and state correctional facilities in the country are participating in the Contest. The Prison Writing Contest will offer prizes including one year tuition payment to an online or correspondence fine arts or creative writing program at a selected college to the first place winners. Submissions can be in any of the following categories: Poetry, Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction and Graphic Novels. The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2014. Winners will be announced on May 17, 2014.

Historically, great works of literature have been produced while the authors were in prison including essays like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”, Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience, Nelson Mandela’s “Conversations with Myself”; novels like E.E. Cummings’…

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Random House Acquires 1800s Prison Memoir

Random House Acquires 1800s Prison Memoir