Make A Poem Cry
Creative Writing From California’s Lancaster Prison


Poetry Reading & Discussion

McCune Conference Room, 6020 HSSB

Make-A-Poem-Cry (pdf)

Make a Poem Cry is an anthology from one of California’s high-security prisons brought to us through the creative writing classes of Luis J. Rodríguez. Rodríguez and formerly incarcerated writer Kenneth E. Hartman have selected work penned from 2016 to 2018. These are poems, essays, stories, and more mined from the depths of familial, racial, and economic violence. They are imaginings for how to address trouble and crime without punishment, dehumanization, and violence in return. Here’s restorative/transformative justice in action. Here’s redemption in the flesh. Here are voices and viewpoints needed for a just and equitable world for all. In this TMI series event, Hartman and Rodríguez will discuss how the project makes visible the experience of incarceration–about which there is too little information–as well as read selected works from the anthology. A reception will follow.

Kenneth E. Hartman was convicted of murder at nineteen and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. After he had served thirty-eight years, former California governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. commuted his sentence, and Hartman was paroled in 2017. He’s presently a freelance writer who is also working as a development coordinator and prison programs specialist for a Los Angeles-area nonprofit. His 2009 memoir, Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars, won the 2010 Eric Hoffer Award. Hartman edited Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough, a collection of prisoner writings about life sentences without the possibility of parole, which won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award. His work has appeared in the New York Times and Harper’s.

Luis J. Rodríguez was the poet laureate of Los Angeles from 2014 to 2016. Across forty years, he taught creative writing as well as conducted poetry readings, lectures, and healing circles in prisons, juvenile lockups, and jails throughout the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Europe. He is the founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and cofounder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles. Rodríguez is the author of sixteen books of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction, including the best-selling memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Too Much Information series and the Hester and Cedric Crowell Endowment

TMI Talk: Make a Poem Cry: Creative Writing from California’s Lancaster Prison

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