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All Day

A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island

By Liza Jessie Peterson
Narrated by Liza Jessie Peterson / 9 hours 34 minutes

ALL DAY is a behind-the-bars, personal glimpse into the issue of mass incarceration via an unpredictable, insightful and ultimately hopeful reflection on teaching teens while they await sentencing.

ALL DAY is a story of my journey finding love and purpose in an unexpected, dark place. Like most New York City transplants, I came with a dream of doing something extraordinary-becoming a supermodel. I did the Paris-New York-Milan couture romp, not achieving supermodel status, but I managed to walk the runway for some of the fashion industry's best designers. The luster and glam quickly lost their shine. I was searching for my identity, my voice, my calling. When I took a theater class, I discovered a passion for acting and journaling. Then I landed roles in several independent feature films. The renowned Nuyorican Poets Cafe nurtured my calling as a poet and playwright. I performed on HBO's Def Poetry Jam and on PBS's Between the Lions. My poems evolved into monologues, then plays, and when I looked up I had a one-woman show.

When I stumbled into teaching incarcerated boys at Island Academy-the high school for inmates detained on Rikers Island-I was merely looking for a steady job that paid more than poetry gigs, to pay my rent and get on my feet financially.

I started as a teaching artist, conducting poetry and creative writing workshops. It was supposed to be temporary. But a funny thing happens when passion meets purpose. So it's been 18 years and counting that I've been working with incarcerated youth in multiple capacities. This book is about experiences during my first year as a full-time GED teacher for incarcerated boys. My hope is that it will give you insight into a draconian subworld where so many of our children languish. May it allow you to understand the plight of young adolescent boys behind bars and feel, as I do, that they are worth our love and attention.

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