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Join us at the Pratt’s Central Branch to hear Reginald Dwayne Betts in conversation with Lady Brion about his new collection of poetry, Felon.
Felon tells the story of the effects of incarceration in fierce, dazzling poems—canvassing a wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace—and, in doing so, creates a travelogue for an imagined life. Reginald Dwayne Betts confronts the funk of postincarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person’s life.
The poems move between traditional and newfound forms with power and agility—from revolutionary found poems created by redacting court documents to the astonishing crown of sonnets that serves as the volume’s radiant conclusion. Drawing inspiration from lawsuits filed on behalf of the incarcerated, the redaction poems focus on the ways we exploit and erase the poor and imprisoned from public consciousness. Traditionally, redaction erases what is top secret; in Felon, Betts redacts what is superfluous, bringing into focus the profound failures of the criminal justice system and the inadequacy of the labels it generates.
A poet, essayist and national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, Reginald Dwayne Betts writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society. He is the author of three collections of poetry, Felon, Bastards of the Reagan Era, and Shahid Reads His Own Palm, as well as a memoir, A Question of Freedom. A graduate of Yale Law School, he lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and their two sons.
Lady Brion is an international spoken word artist, activist, and 2015 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow. She is a national poetry slam champion and the author of With My Head Unbowed. She received a bachelor's in communication from Howard University and a MFA in creative writing from University of Baltimore. She serves as a board member of DewMore Baltimore, the cultural ambassador for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and the founder of the Pennsylvania Ave Black Arts and Entertainment District.
TIME & DATE
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 - 7:00pm