New Volunteers: Orientation this Sunday, October 26

It’s easy to make a difference in a concrete, personal way in the lives of incarcerated women looking for the self-empowerment, education and entertainment that reading provides.

Join us for our next orientation session, led by one of our experienced volunteers. It takes place the last Sunday of each month, 1–2pm, right before our regular 2–5pm work session. Get the details here.

If you can’t make it this week, plan now to join us for the November 30 orientation. Not available on Sundays? There are lots of other ways to get involved and help get books in the hands of women in prison. We hope to see you soon!

“I, Junkie”—a Correction and the Poem

In 2007 we published Bound Struggles #6, our occasional anthology of writing by prisoners, including two poems submitted by Elizabeth Cardona titled “Junkie” and “Prisoner”. Recently we learned of a poem by Jeffrey Bardo, “I, Junkie”, that appeared in the 2005 Journal of the Prison Arts Program, published by Community Partners in Action, a Connecticut organization. (See below for the cover of this edition and the page on which his poem appeared.) In comparing “Junkie” and “Prisoner” with Mr. Bardo’s poem, it is clear that his work was plagiarized.

IJunkiePhotos

We are glad to give Mr. Bardo the credit he deserves and to publish his poem.

~ ~ ~

I, junkie

  1. I, junkie
    Hopeless, Godless Hollow eyed and Gaunt
    Under cold violent moons, suns that always seemed too bright
    I was rabid.
    Foaming at the nose, chasing dragons, in search of the land of nod
    and the place where the angels sleep.
    Running, racing against myself
    and time and everything else.
    Telling, lying to myself that today I’m fixed but tomorrow I’ll quit —
    everyday until weeks turn to months to years
    yet tomorrow never comes…
  2. I, suspect
    But the police do. And sirens and the sound of keys. And the
    click click click of cuffs. Tomorrow has arrived with pain
    and so much more pain.
    And God. And Hope. So bittersweet.
    The cell is as cold as I am scared.
    In hindsight, God has me. The junkie’s dripping nose and
    runs are with me and I want to die.
    Close my eyes and never open them again.
    Just black.
    The cops are proud “well guys we sure made the streets safe
    from another drugdealing shoplifter.”
    The nights at the P.D. are hungry and
    all echoes.
    There is despondency yet God has my hand
    as he guides me to my larvae
    to mutate in my cocoon.
  3. I, prisoner
    My awakening to the prison.
    This place, a purgatory between never never land
    and the real world.
    Down in the gutter among
    the freaks, hustlers, faggot, dealers, murderers, thieves,
    Only those who were caught,
    I found myself. found truth, kindness, compassion.
    In with the Muslims, Nazis
    is where I began to listen to life’s poetry
    Calling, calling, calling.
    in the walls I was never alone
    yet lonely always.
    I became a man again. A son again. A father.
  4. I, father, I son
    The cocoon is opening. I am struggling
    to free myself. To mesomorph. The shedding
    of skin is painful. These new scales feel
    so foreign. Yet that’s good.
    I see my family,
    over the border of an endless table.
    My father and son are there
    and I am Icarus and Daedalus at once as they are.
    Even though my wings melted so close
    to the sun, I will one day soon give my
    boy his own. Am right now readying them,
    In my father’s soul is the epiphany
    that the gift is not the waxed feathers
    but in letting the child fail in his flight.
    My mother cries and I hold her hand
    as I dream silently of the day
    I rejoin the butterflies.
    After, as they drive, I go back to the cocoon
    to shed more skin.
  5. I, poet
    Fluttering, my wings feel incredible.
    Gorgeous they are. I say this not
    out of conceit, but wonder.
    I have exited the keep of the cocoon.
    From darkness to the brilliance of the garden.
    I am now alive.
    I junkie, I suspect, I prisoner,
    I father, I son, I man am now here.
    Everything before, the anguish, despair, the memories
    are all a requiem of my former life.
    From within the soot and ashes of
    this mass I am resurrected as a
    muse, jongleur, bard, Apollo.
    if ever I publish a word has no relevance.
    I now can see the songs in all things.
    The hymn of the sky
    The verses of light
    The ballads in the hands of all.
    I hear and sing the song of myself.
    I fell therefore… I love therefore…
    I hope therefore… I believe therefore…
    I am.
      – Jeffrey Bardo

Sunday, October 19—Books Behind Bars at Uncharted Books

Learn more about what we do and the difference it makes to the women we serve. We love Uncharted Books—they’ve been a good friend by helping us get hard-to-find books—and we appreciate Tanner’s support. Join us for:

Books Behind Bars
Hosted by Uncharted Books

Sunday, October 19, 6 p.m.
2620 N. Milwaukee (Kedzie & Milwaukee) in Logan Square
Light refreshments served

  • Hear guest speaker Reynolds Wintersmith—whose sentence was recently commuted by Presidential pardon after serving 20 years—on his experience and the importance of books for him in prison
  • Browse at Uncharted and buy books requested by the women we serve
  • Learn from our volunteers all the ways you can help provide books to people in prisons

Download event flyer

New Volunteers: Orientation this Sunday, September 28

If you’ve been thinking about getting involved, now’s the time. Join us for our next orientation session, led by one of our experienced volunteers. It takes place the last Sunday of each month, 1–2pm, right before our regular 2–5pm work session. Get the details here.
If you can’t make it this week, plan now to join us for the October 26 orientation. Not available on Sundays? There are lots of other ways to get involved and help get books in the hands of women in prison. We hope to see you soon!

“The End of Juvenile Prison” — Book Talk & Discussion — Sat., Sept. 13 in Evanston

Burning_Down_the_House

In her new book, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison, award-winning journalist and advocate Nell Bernstein presents a critical look at the juvenile justice system. Continue reading ‘“The End of Juvenile Prison” — Book Talk & Discussion — Sat., Sept. 13 in Evanston’

Poem from Florida

Forgotten and Alone in Prison

Here I am locked up again,
with no family or loved ones near.
All that’s left inside of me
is the sadness and fear.
I pray to God for salvation and
to lead me in his precious grace.
As I beg him to show me mercy
as tears roll down my face.
As I lay here in my cell sitting on my bed,
I shed another tear, because I feel
I’ve been forgotten
by those I love so dear to me. Continue reading ‘Poem from Florida’

Letter from Florida

To the Book Angels —

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I recently received a package of books and they were wonderful. I live in an open quad with 70 other women and 10 Greyhounds (we do rehab training for retired racing Greyhounds to help with their adoptions) and everyone gets excited when we receive books. Everyone is usually good about sharing, as it is hard for some to get to the compound library. The latest editions were all from popular authors so they are making the rounds.

Once again I’m gong to request any of the latest bestsellers. Other popular titles have been requested too. Please send authors like Nora Roberts, Fern Michaels, Danielle Steele, Susan Monk, Meg Cabot, Southern authors, Patterson and Grisham, any vampire books and cookbooks. Believe me, any sent will be shared and enjoyed.

Sincerely,
Cathy C.

Special Requests and How You Can Help

See our Amazon Wish List for hard-to-find books that are often requested
The next time you place an order, why not select one (or more!) of the books on the list for us? This will help you meet the $35 minimum for free shipping and it’s easy to have the books for prisoners sent directly to us.

Check out our most recent special requests
Here are just a few of the hard-to-find books we could use right now. (Some are also on the wish list. Some may be on your shelves or in that box in the corner of your basement.) We’ll be updating this list as needed, but for starters: Continue reading ‘Special Requests and How You Can Help’

New Volunteers: Orientation Sunday, August 24

To avoid possible conflicts with Labor Day weekend, we’ll be moving up our monthly orientation session one week in August.
Every week we pack and send books to more than 60 prisoners. If you’re interested in prison issues and would like to help make a significant difference in the lives of prisoners, we’re the place to be.
Join us Sunday, August 24, at 1pm. (Our volunteer orientations take place 1–2pm, right before our regular 2–5pm work session.) Get the details here. Of course, there are always other ways to get involved and help get books in the hands of women in prison. Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Wanted: Brown Paper Bags

PackedBooks

Every week we pack and ship more than 60 packages of books. To keep our costs down, we recycle brown paper bags—and now we’ve run out of bags.

So we’ll be happy to take that pile of bags off your hands. Just drop them off any Sunday afternoon, 2–5pm at 4511 N. Hermitage Ave. (Sunnyside and Hermitage). We’re only two blocks from the Montrose Brown Line stop and there is plenty of free street parking. Look for our doorbell at the top left of the church entrance. Continue reading ‘Wanted: Brown Paper Bags’


Interested in donating books?

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Learn what we're looking for now (updated 10/4/14)

• Check out our Amazon Wish List

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