Kathie Klarreich and the Prison Poet Laureate program


In Florida, the Exchange for Change program teachers prisoners the art of the written word, whether in essay, novel, or poetry. And, yes, there is good reason that those of us who are not, and likely never will be, in prison should care. (See an example of Florida Prison Poet Laureate Christoper Malek's poetry below.)

Kathie Klarreich — Exchange for Change

The Luis Angel Hernandez Florida Prison Poet Laureate is an honorary two-year position awarded by Exchange for Change and O, Miami Poetry Festival to a poet incarcerated within the Florida Department of Corrections.

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Missed Takes

All things considered

drugs are people too;

there are never any around when you need them

or a shared coincidence portrayed at least;

better in small doses if you take them at all,

and sometimes better to quit both altogether

I still feel like truth can be found

at the bottom of any liquor bottle

and momma ain't raise no quitter

I tried once, but I quit quitting

she'd be proud

....

I kinda thought I was tripping

when the last thing written went to spinning

two different ways in the back of my brain

as if tucked in a chamber

of the happiest barrel to ever

prep for Russian roulette

my own hollow points

pointlessly blow any sensibilities

through illusions printed in philosophy texts

or were there better ways to burn them?

denser propensities hope the smoke reaches other planets

to make up for the shooting stars I never managed to catch

though every light I caught sparked prolonged stays in the dark

climbed down xanny bars into the deepest contents recalled

to settle on justifications jump-starting impulses to rob

and drove them past every red light screaming "Cynic!"

gotta yellow-light self-induced meditating of the past on heavy nights

and pushing the resin all the way to the tip of my mind's pipe

because lately it seems like my poems are my only friends

even though they hurt

they sting

they murder

it ain't never their intention; they're people too,

they just ain't got a lot of pride

started vibing with mine in society's basement

after someone locked the hatch from above

plus, they accept journal thoughts like these

entries for third-personing who I used to be

life is a movie

we all miss takes

but hey, we're people too

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES