A searing volume by a poet whose work conveys “the visceral effect that prison has on identity” (New York Times).
Felon tells the story of one man in fierce, dazzling poems― canvassing his 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 post-incarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person’s life. Challenging the complexities of language, Betts animates what it means to be a “felon.”
What she tells me: prison killed you
my love, killed you so dead that you’re not
here now, you’re never here, you’re always.
Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet, legal scholar, educator and prison reform advocate. At age 16 he committed an armed carjacking, was prosecuted as an adult, and sentenced to nine years in prison. He started reading and writing poetry during his incarceration.