The fall 2017 print issue of Schuylkill Valley Journal includes a special section of poetry written by men imprisoned at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia. Fran B. provides an introduction to the section entitled, “A Poetry Workshop at Graterford Prison,” which begins, “In January, 2017, I started a poetry workshop at Graterford Prison. I had wanted to do this for a long time, several years, and my semi-retirement enabled me to think that I finally had the time to devote to the project.” Fran explains how he worked with the Prison Literacy Project of Pennsylvania and a group called Lifers, Inc. in Graterford Prison to get the workshop started, building a rapport with the inmates, and developing guidelines for their sessions. Fran shares some of the prompts he developed and the responses these elicited from participants.
Contributing Writer Eric Greinke provides an editorial comment on the works selected: “Although all of the poems that were submitted have merit, this particular group of five poets display special talent and affinity for poetry. Poetic talent can appear anywhere, under any circumstances, because it is the result of the inner human drive to evolve and connect. These five poets transcend situational concerns and rise to a universal level that communicates to our shared humanity. Their poems have in common an emotional intensity but each poet sings with his own unique voice.”
Included are ten poems by five poets: Reginald L., Terrell C., Ben C., Aaron F., and Eduardo R.