The Importance of Prisoner Authorship

There is a divide imposed by society on everyone that puts pen to paper. Should the writer as artist speak to the oppression that they face, or be curiously mute on the subject? This question comes up at the beginning of each writing project and in regards to their career overall. To do one, the other,  both, or neither, each individual has to find their own answer.

This question is especially pointed for people in prison. To be a prison writer, one is expected to describe in infinite detail the conditions of one’s confinement. Whereas, to be a writer in prison comes with the difficulty of not being able to find a venue to be published in. In this project, I have decided to be a prison writer while still working on other projects where I am a writer who happens to be in prison.

Thankfully, these efforts are supported by other people here at Monroe who are also prison writers and writers in prison.

Specifically, one of my fellow writers, Michael J. Moore, has recently finagled himself a book deal. His new novel is called After the Change and follows three friends as they attempt to survive the zom-poc. In this novel he manages to critique the toxicity of normative relationships between men and women by imagining what healthy interactions and care may look like and placing that in juxtaposition to toxic archetypes of masculinity and femininity.

As with everyone, Michael J. Moore is in process and this is reflected in some of the ways he has portrayed race, class, and formerly incarcerated people in his novel. This withstanding, I think he has done an admirable job of trying to complicate and subvert various cliches, which is exactly the reason we need to support writers who happen to be in prison. We need to support their dreaming of alternate ways of being in community so that, perhaps those dreams can help us find our way to a better way of being in the world.

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