This poem is a clarion call to action to confront our perceptions about what prison is and what it can be. The poem asks the reader to explore how they experience the “prison industrial complex” in their own lives, and how they might shift their views through perspective-taking to create a more holistically integrative prison experience for themselves and others. The value of the poem lay within the context in which it was created: written by person-first prison inmate Keoni Watson—during a three month performative workshop facilitated by Rivka Roccio at an Arizona State Penitentiary—to be performed as a spoken word poem for upper-echelon prison staff members and inmates “off the yard” sitting side-by-side with education staff from Arizona State University. Keoni challenges reader and audience to investigate their contribution to bridging the gap of their own “cultural, generational difference and bias” in regards to prison being a place of immensely underutilized transformational potential for individuals as well as communities.
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Watson, Keoni K.
"Prison Is Not…But It Can Be…,"
Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Journal: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/ptoj/vol2/iss1/3