prison poetry contest
i've been reading and hearing as much prison poetry as non-prison poetry lately. i just got word of a contest offering both cash prizes and publication possibilities. the shot caller press prison poetry contest is open to all prisoners, ex-prisoners, family members or friends of prisoners, prison guards, prison volunteers, and prison workers.
i've never heard of the press, but they can sign me up for the forthcoming anthology. below the official rules, they offer advice that might benefit any poet:
Additionally: We do not look for literary merit. What we are looking for is creativity and originality. The correct usage of words or grammar is not a criterion in this contest; sometimes it is a plus. ... What makes a poem stand out is the use of language to create strong images, a topic that shows a unique awareness of prison life and a creative approach that shows originality.
amen to that. here's an excerpt from dietrich bonhoeffer's Who am I?, written in tegel prison in 1944:
...struggling for breath, as though
hands were compressing my throat,
yearning for colours, for flowers,
for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends
at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying,
at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.
Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once?
A hypocrite before others,
and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still
like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder
from victory already achieved?