The Law Office of Jeremy Gordon is very different than most other organizations that work with federal prisoners. We are different because we care deeply and genuinely about the plight of the federal prison population. We are also different because we believe in the importance of giving back to our community. Who is our community? The answer may surprise some, but it is each and every one of you. All federal prisoners.
Thus, it is with great pleasure that the Law Office of Jeremy Gordon offers its “Commitment to Change” college scholarship. Through this scholarship, one lucky person will receive free tuition and books covering one three credit semester hour college course from Adams State University, an accredited U.S. university that offers Associate, Bachelor, and Master level degrees to the incarcerated. The scholarship is awarded four times a year via a contest.
To be eligible for the scholarship, you MUST meet the following criteria: (1) Be incarcerated in federal prison; (2) Have a GED or high school diploma; (3) Not already possess a Bachelor’s degree; and (4) submit a recorded piece of spoken word poetry, not longer than 1 minute and 30 seconds by calling 972-483-4865 and asking for Chris.
Prisoners have long written poetry from inside the prison walls. For incarcerated men and women—as for all who have the urge to write poetry—Robert Frost’s words ring true: the poem “begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.” Poetry is the need to express what’s locked up inside, and for the prisoner, the bars are real.
Sending a poem into the blogosphere is, however, a relatively new way for prisoners to find their voice. Boston University’s Robert Pinsky, a former U.S. Poet Laureate, says in an interview on Big Think that prisoners serving a life sentence often write the best poetry since they have a lot of time to reflect and read. While many poems by prisoners wouldn’t make it past your high school English teacher, some talented jailed New England poets are emerging online.
The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild publishes poetry once a month from those first published in its Mass Dissent magazine. The power of poetry is what helped Douglas Weed, incarcerated at MCI Norfolk, to dig deep into his crime and his subsequent remorse is not unlike Raskolnikov’s soul searching in Crime and Punishment. Here is Weed’s Ode to a Prison Prophet from October 2012: